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James Bond

Spectre (2015)

spectreDIRECTOR: Sam Mendes

CAST: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

REVIEW:

After taking iconic super spy James Bond back to the nitty, gritty basics in 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace, the “new” rebooted 007 film series slowly worked familiar Bond ingredients (Q, Moneypenney, the Aston Martin, more liberal use of the Bond theme) back into the mix with 2012’s Skyfalland now with Spectre, director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig, reuniting from Skyfall, have brought Craig’s Bond full circle with his most “traditional” outing yet.  Of Craig’s four Bond films, Spectre has the most “classic Bond” feel, but admittedly part of the strength of Casino Royale and Skyfall was that they eschewed the conventional Bond formula, or at least used it with restraint.  Spectre is entertaining, but it lacks the freshness of Casino Royale and the emotional depth of Skyfall.  In resurrecting the shadowy global domination organization Spectre, last seen as a recurring villain in Sean Connery’s Bond films of the ’60s, the “classic Bond” pieces have nearly all clicked into place, but the movie lacks a certain spark.  There’s a by-the-numbers feel here that makes Spectre an entertaining Bond adventure but, unlike Casino Royale and Skyfall, not one that transcends the genre. Continue reading

Skyfall (2012)

DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes

CAST:

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory, Ola Rapace

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL DISCUSS SPECIFICS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

While Martin Campbell started the process in 2006’s Casino Royale, with Skyfall, Sam Mendes has truly finished what Casino Royale started—rebooting James Bond as Christopher Nolan did with Batman and J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek, taking the series back to the starting gate as if the previous films never happened. Casino Royale, star Daniel Craig’s debut—which was well-received—took 007 back to the basics, whittled down to the bare bones, with no gadgets, no Moneypenny, no Q, the quipping and sexcapades kept to a restrained minimum, and 2008’s Quantum of Solace—which was generally regarded as a disappointing follow-up—continued in this vein, but Skyfall truly completes the circle of the old and the new, keeping the “new” series’ restraint and seriousness (by Bond standards, at least), while adding a few familiar ingredients that were MIA in its two predecessors back into the mix. Most notably, Skyfall can stand on its own as an individual film. Familiarity with the events of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace is not necessary. Continue reading

Casino Royale (2006)

DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell

CAST:  Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino

REVIEW:

With Casino Royale, Martin Campbell has done for 007 what Christopher Nolan did for Batman with Batman Begins the year before: reboot a floundering film franchise back to the basics and start afresh, as if none of the previous films happened. This is Bond stripped down to the nitty gritty. There are no gadgets, no Q, no Moneypenny, restrained sexcapades, and a Bond who’s the most serious he’s been in decades. The iconic line of “Bond, James Bond” isn’t uttered until the closing scene, and the James Bond theme is only heard in brief, subdued snippets until finally playing in full over the ending credits. Even the opening sequences’ conspicuous lack of the expected naked women indicates this “new” series’ direction. This Bond still enjoys attractive women and Aston Martins, he still drinks Martinis, and he still occasionally slips into a tux in glamorous international locales, but the mission holds most of his steely-eyed attention. Those who grew up on the campy tongue-in-cheek charm, nifty gadgets, and wildly over-the-top action of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan’s outings may find this Bond disappointing, but others welcomed it with enthusiasm as the first since Sean Connery, and maybe the first ever, to truly portray the cold-blooded professional killer from Ian Fleming’s original novel series (it’s based on Fleming’s novel of the same name, and while other Bond films have used the names of Fleming novels while jettisoning most of the plots, this one follows its namesake fairly closely), before that perception of 007 was overtaken by the ultra-suave super-spy action hero and ladies’ man.

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