Retrial: Spectre (2015)

Well, now we know what ‘C’ stands for. Correction…

The opinions, they have changed! Well, slightly. If you still buy physical media it may have been brought to your attention that the latest 007 instalment, Spectre, has been released on BluRay with all the eye-wateringly lacklustre special features you weren’t anticipating. After revisiting the film, I’m here to revaluate my original opinions of it. Obviously, this is not a full review so give the original review a quick once over before you read on.

Beginning with the cast, I still stand my appreciation of Craig’s comfortable performance and ever-so-slight sense for comedic timing. Craig also manages to retain the balance of moody coldness and pumped furiousness that his Bond seems to walk the line between, from previous films. All around, a great performance. Even revisiting the film since seeing it opening night, Léa Seydoux still falls flat. Maybe it’s the writing, but if we’re going to talk about Bond girls with “daddy issues”, For Your Eyes Only (1981) has still to be matched.

A Bond film is only as good as its villain. Waltz is delightful as Oberhauser, but one never seems to escape the fact that it’s Christoph Waltz onscreen. Deliciously evil viewing, nonetheless. I originally moaned that Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx never delivered on his build-up, but considering the wonderful fight on the train, he leaves a lasting impression.

The MI6 crew all do a fine job, with Ben Whishaw placing his hands on his hips in an almost Desmond Llewelyn style manner. A nice nod to the original Q, but I’m disappointed he didn’t say “Oh really, 007!”. Luckily the scriptwriters didn’t give Naomi Harris much cringy shaving scene/trailer-fodder dialogue to share with Daniel Craig. Her lines seem more natural, which adds to her likability onscreen.

The film’s opening remains one of its highlights. What I failed to mention is the incredible elongated shot at, making for an amazing spectacle. The action through Spectre is thrilling, although the shootout at the villain’s base is rather quick and misses out on a chance for creativity in such a interesting location. Overall, Spectre features some dazzling action, especially the car chase in Rome.

The story still remains Spectres’ biggest flaw. Upon revisiting, Bond and Swann’s is dreadfully developed and the idea that she is the one this tortured spy will fall in love with is laughable. The sub-plot featuring Andrew Scott is rather underwhelming and suffers from techno-spy fatigue, by which I mean it’s all about dull technology. The film’s conclusion is remains to be questionable. It manages to be far too complex and convenient. I stand by that a more satisfying conclusion would have featured a tense shoot-out and at the villain’s lair.

One may notice that the film looks very warm, as if the person in charge of colour correction accidentally forgot to remove his blue-tinted sunglasses. While it works for the pre-title sequence, it becomes noticeable in later portions of the film. Finally the filmmakers have come to their senses and have placed the gunbarrel at the front of the film. It definitely gets you excited for whats to come.

Looking back, Spectre remains a slightly average Bond film. It is enjoyable, but flawed. However, with more humour and creativity thrown into the mix, one can only hope for greater things in the future…

 

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Deadpool (2016)

Ryan Reynolds’ redeems himself in the world of cinematic superheroes…

I won’t bore you with a comic book nerd’s hyperventilating review of this film. Personally, I’ve never harboured any deep-rooted love for MARVEL films. Usually, there is something unpalatable about the formulaic stories and money-shot-laden direction. But there are some exceptions, like the Iron Man films (no, not the second one) and The Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). But, after the horde of Avenger sequels and spin offs, another film makes my list – Deadpool. Continue reading “Deadpool (2016)”

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)

The apocalypse is upon us! Michael Bay has made a decent film…

Ah, Michael Bay. For years many have doubted your credibility as a serious filmmaker. With obnoxious tough guy characters, the objectification of women and big Transformers hitting each other in a CGI mess of noise and explosions – it seemed all hope was lost. However, 13 Hours goes a little way to redeem the often criticised director. Continue reading “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)”

The Hateful Eight (2016)

It’s a long journey to sit through Tarantino’s eighth instalment, but worth every second…

Say whatever you will about Mr. Tarantino, but it’s near impossible to deny his talent as a filmmaker. Known for his auteur style of filmmaking and reinvigoration of the genre’s that inspire him, Tarantino is something of a household name. Because of this, The Hateful Eight has a lot to live up to. Luckily, for the most part, it surpasses expectations. Continue reading “The Hateful Eight (2016)”

Foxcatcher (2015)

Captivating performances help ignite this slow yet striking adaptation of real events…

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is an Olympic wrestler. Living in the shadow of his brother and fellow Olympic wrestlerDave (Mark Ruffalo), Mark agrees to train under wealthy philanthropist John du Pont (Steve Carell). However, du Pont’s unstable nature and Mark’s issues make for a destructive partnership… Continue reading “Foxcatcher (2015)”

The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011)

Oh, the hype! This gross-out body horror sequel certainly makes you cringe…

Okay, so I’m a little late to join The-Human-Centipede-hype-bandwagon. And by “a little late” I mean that the bandwagon has rattled off into the horizon, crashed and sunk into quicksand. Needless to say, the third instalment has been released and forgotten. But, I thought I might as well give my opinion on this once infamously controversial gross-out sequel. Continue reading “The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011)”

Mistress America (2015)

 A film with genuine penchant for subtle comedy and incorporates a sense of reality…

Originally written for Forge Press: http://forgetoday.com/fuse/review-mistress-america/

A film can walk a fine line between originality and pretentiousness. Fortunately, Mistress America is more the former and delivers a valuable lesson in subtle comedy.

Mistress America follows the relationship of Tracy (Lola Kirke) and Brooke (Greta Gerwig), two soon to be step-sisters living in Times Square, New York. Tracy is a young college student and aspiring writer. When she meets the adventurous 30-year-old Brooke, she decides to help her achieve her dream of opening a restaurant. However, when an investor pulls out it is up to Tracy and Brooke to find a replacement.

Mistress America has a genuine penchant for subtle comedy. It is a far cry from the obvious tendencies of contemporary Hollywood comedies – the likes of Dumb and Dumber To and Unfinished Business are certainly put to shame. Aside from the larger-than-life Brooke, there are no zany, over the top performances. Rather, the characters incorporate a real sense of reality and that’s where the comedy shines through.

The script is ideal for Gerwig. Understandable, as she co-wrote it with with director Noah Baumbach. Gerwig has excellent comedic timing and delivers some of the film’s funniest moments. Kirke also provides a good performance with a dose of humour, if in a more reserved manner than Gerwig. Her role as a lost young woman trying to find herself is devoid of  the clichés or whinging tendencies that a lesser actress could have so easily fallen prey too. Both Gerwig and Kirke work fabulously. The remainder of the cast work well, especially Matthew Shear as fellow aspiring writer Tony.

The direction and look of Mistress America is not extraordinary, but this works to the film’s advantage. American filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s direction is unobtrusive. Shots aren’t devised in order to create a certain kind of impact. Instead, Baumbach’s direction skilfully serves to accommodate the substance created by the characters onscreen. He also makes the most of the New York location, using overcast grey sky and streetlight-studded night time to create a pleasing backdrop.

Mistress America is reminiscent of early Woody Allen projects, both in humour and direction. Comparisons can be easily drawn to Annie Hall or Manhattan. But, some may find that the Allen-esque element of significant character development is missing, which is surprising as the film is so focused on its characters. The narrative isn’t totally conventional, with revelations and contentions not really coming to a major conclusion. Rather, the characters are in a race to keep up the facade that is their lives. It’s a wonderful narrative, but may alienate some viewers who expect a more traditional story.

The film also features a very retro eighties inspired soundtrack. It’s not quite the level of Drive, but it is appreciated nevertheless. Plenty of synths and drum machines are thrown into the mix alongside tracks from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Paul McCartney. It complements the New York setting fairly well.

Mistress America is a refreshing alternative to the endless stream of “outrageous” summer comedies. It is a treat for the filmgoer desiring a film with a bit more substance and a knack for subtlety.

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Old and new combine in this spectacular new instalment in the Star Wars saga…

The cinematic universe of Star Wars has been a rocky road since the Rebels won the day back in 1983. But now, J.J. Abrams has breathed new life into the galaxy far, far away. Continue reading “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)”

Krampus (2015)

This supernatural Christmas horror shows the dark side of St. Nick…

The list of decent Christmas horror film is a rather short one. Then again, there isn’t anything particularly scary about the festive season. Luckily, Krampus incorporates creativity, fun and atmosphere to deliver some good Yuletide chills. Continue reading “Krampus (2015)”