Spectre instant review:

  1.  The theme song is crap I have no goddamn clue what they are trying to do. The title sequence is also godawful. I have never been a fan of Danny Klinemann’s C.G. heavy MTV aesthetic but this is not good even by his standards. May I suggest Garson Yu or Richard Morrison? Also, I think some of that imagery might play a bit differently in Japan. Even in the U.S. it’s heavily and I think unintentionally fetishistic.
  2.  The photography is super nice, but there are a few scenes where the anamorphic format is distracting or even results in objective flaws. There are two dodgy composite shots at different climactic moments.
  3. Duh, of course it’s Blofield! Nobody was fooled! The new concept for Blofield is excessively reminiscent of the last outing in that his motivation is personal animus against Bond for outcompet ing him for the affections of another. Retconning the previous 3 films into this does not work at all.
  4. The writing is also otherwise very mixed. There’s less of a “third act syndrome” than with Skyfall but it feels like we’re just retreading too much ground already covered. Additionally, while 007 films have never been about plot logic it is strained to the breaking point perhaps one time too many here.
  5. There are a few shots of Craig where he in visage and mien looks so much like Steve McQueen that I think they’re doing it on purpose.
  6. Why the F**** can’t anyone pilot a helicopter in this story? In the final-last-one-for-real climax one wonders why the pilot doesn’t respond to being shot at from a boat by steering AWAY from the river.
  7. Andrew Scott is now 100% typecast. I hope he’s O.K. with that. His character is the parallel-universe alternate of his Moriarty.
  8. Getting Q and Moneypenny out of the office was a good idea. Q in particular is a major strength of the film because he is the only character to have recognizably human motivations. We instantly and uncynically sympathize with him in the health-bar scene.
  9. Retconning Mr White sympathetically is such a baldly audacious idea that I actually admire them for trying. It still doesn’t work.
  10. I don’t really have a 10th point so here is a list of some of the more obvious recyclings.
    • The Thames boat sequence: Die Another Day.
    • The base in the crater: You Only Live Twice.
    • The title-sequence Octopussy. (Or actually probably given how everyone is nekkid in it for no reason, we maybe should say Octop***y.)
    • Goldfinger is the obvious inspiration for the Aston Martin, the Rome chase scene and the Rolls Royce Blofield sends.

All this self-referential nostalgia is potentially lethal. This may seem like a bizarre tangent but recall the attack of bad writing in the 80s during the Colin Baker era of Doctor Who. That was the same problem just with way lower production values and it lead to the show being cancelled twice*.

Final thoughts: this movie is exactly what I feared would happen to Skyfall when I heard Sam Mendes (who never saw a simple idea he couldn’t wreck with layers upon layers of trite psuedophilosophy) was directing. If Skyfall is an A-, which I think is generous probably more B+, Spectre is a wobbly C-.

*It’s complicated…