“Bond, James Bond”
My Reading List may have been created for books/films etc. that I want to get round to reading/watching but that doesn’t mean things can’t go on there before it’s possible to actually do that. Such is the case with SPECTRE, the latest James Bond movie.
I’ve never read any of the books, I haven’t seen all of the films so I can in no way really describe myself as a ‘real fan’ of them but I like James Bond, I like the action/spyness, and traditions eg. repeated lines and characters such as “Bond, James Bond” and Q. I’m always up for watching one when it’s on TV whether I’ve seen it before or not and for the past few films I’ve made the effort to go see them in the cinema (this means a lot, I don’t go to the cinema often).
I went to see SPECTRE (which is in all capitals, just to prove its cool) on Monday (26th October 2015) which was opening night here in the UK (not to mention the night of the royal world premiere in London). I’ve never seen anything on opening night before – not even Harry Potter, which is kind of ridiculous – and it was quite exciting to experience that vibe with a packed out cinema full of people who didn’t want to wait a day longer than necessary to see the film. I even saw a guy in black tie. It was also the first film I’ve ever seen in 4k*.
I really enjoyed SPECTRE, it had great action and good laughs. I loved the atmosphere and experience of watching it with lots of others in 4k, on a massive screen with great audio – like all Bond films, it’s one of those films that are on enough of an epic scale for the cinema setting to really make a difference. I think I preferred Skyfall overall but in some elementsSPECTRE was far better.
I’m now going to go down a winding path of musings in which I will be avoiding main plot details SPOILERS but there will be some broad, non-plotty stuff.
Was happy that the film opened with the classic walking-circle-turn-and-shoot bit, according to Wikipedia this is called the ‘gun barrel sequence’ which is perhaps a bit easier to say and a trifle more professional-sounding.
Onto the theme tune: I think Sam Smith was a great choice, such an obvious one that he had to move on from evasive non-committal, to flat out (lying) denial months ago. And while Writing’s On The Wall is no Adele’s Skyfall nor Paul McCartney’s Live And Let Die and we cannot all be Dame Shirley Bassey, it is still a really good song, and it not being in my opinion the greatest ever Bond theme song is much more testament to the calibre of the category than anything else. The music overall was really good, I have a deep abiding love for film scores – in fact I’m listening to the SPECTRE one as I write this (thank you Thomas Newman). The titles were completely bizarre, so it’s good to know they’re not breaking with that tradition. (All I’m saying is #tentacleporn.)
Of course one of the reasons people watch Bond films is for the cars and I am no exception. I was sighing over the Aston Martin DB10 from the first announcement and who cares about blatant product placement when it looks this good. Several other cars were also swooned over in the film. Speaking of cars I was impressed with myself for correctly identifying Blenheim Palace** as the exterior (with lots of supercars parked outside) of where Bond goes to that meeting as featured in the trailer.
Was also pleased with myself for spotting Bond straight off in the opening scene – that won’t mean anything unless you’ve seen the film and I actually have no idea how easy/difficult he actually is to identify but it felt quite Where’s Wally?-ish to me so…
I think the ‘Bond-women’*** roles were better in this film than Skyfall as long as we’re not counting M in Skyfall because Judi Dench was awesome. Anyone looking forward to seeing Bond with a woman of a similar age to himself should note that Monica Bellucci is very much the minor Bond-woman of the film but hey, baby steps. Léa Seydoux’s character said “What is that?”, instead of stating what you didn’t need to be a MI6 agent to figure out, a bit much for my tastes but was generally portrayed as an intelligent, fairly independent women.
Ralph Fiennes does admirably in his first proper outing as M, he’s different from Judi Dench’s one but that’s a good thing, it wouldn’t sit right if they just tried to make this M and Bond’s relationship a poor imitation of the previous one. It also meant by fangirl brain got to have this sequence of thoughts during a scene featuring Fiennes and Andrew Scott: “It’s Voldermort and Moriarty! Like nose to nose! Apart from this time Ralph Fiennes has a nose!”.
Also retuning were Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw’s Q. I thought Harris’ Moneypenny fit in far better this film and Whishaw’s Q continues to be glorious. I love Ben Whishaw, I really love his Q and I don’t want him to go anywhere but I was musing on the possibility of a female Q. We’ve had a female M and it would be good to see some lady scientist representation (Q is basically my dream job or at least who I want to be when I watch the films). Someone pointed out that that could introduce a weird new sexual dynamic between Q and Bond but they could just do what they did with M and have her be older or who knows get some more representation in there and have her be gay or asexual though I do get that might be hard to get across in a world where people mostly assume other people are straight and in a secret spy organisation where personal lives aren’t really discussed.
Christoph Waltz’s Bond villain is good but not exceptional, Dave Bautista does better with the return of the Bond-villain-henchman.
The film quite heavily played on call backs to past Daniel Craig Bond films so if you haven’t seen those but do watch SPECTRE when they act like something’s significant but you have no clue that’s what they’re referencing.
After long rambling I will end abruptly:
*I’ve been describing 4k as “ultra-HD” to those who ask.
**Stately home in Oxfordshire, England, seat of the Duke of Marlborough, birthplace of Winston Churchill, been in a lot of film/TV including Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but you’d be doing really well to recognise it in that as it is literally only used for the Hogwarts grounds as seen in Snape’s memories.
***If Judi Dench says that’s what those characters are called now, that’s what they’re called now – don’t argue with the Dame.