Spectre Review

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     I don’t think I have ever seen a Bond film that was made by die hard fans of the series before. I seriously need to see Spectre again. To be clear, that’s not a slight against the film, not at fucking all. There’s just too much information packed onto the image, it feels like you need to study the shit out of the movie. It was like Skyfall for me in that sense; I just want to revisit the fuck out of this.
     007 (Daniel Craig) is in Mexico during the Dia De Los Muertos celebration on “holiday” while he’s actually out to kill the fuck out of somebody. Bond received a message that is leading him down a rabbit hole towards a secret organization, while M (Ralph Finnes) is dealing with bureaucratic bullshit, namely a little shit called C (Andrew Scott) who wants to discontinue the 00 program, and have everything go digital. Meanwhile Bond locates the key to finding out about the head of Spectre (Christoph Waltz) in Madeline Swan (Lèa Seydoux). But what Bond discovers could very well change how he views his past.
     With the previous three Bond films we had a bit of a build up to the classic cinematic Bond; it’s like we’ve seen 007 gradually become the Bond that we know and love. And here, we’re coming back to the spectacle of the James Bond movies. I knew from the amazing Pretitle sequence that some fans might be turned off because, holy fuck, it has humor in it!!! It worked for me, because it has felt like we got a four film origin story. Which it totally is.
     Not to seem like I’m sucking off this movie, it is far from perfect. There’s a subplot that’s introduced that made me go, “That’s going to tie in” (trying not to give spoilers but, yeah, its fucking obvious). And even the way it tied into the plot, it felt like old hat. To be fair to the movie, and to new fans, a lot of the movie is obvious. The whole movie is a fucking love letter to 60s Bond. Visual references up the ass to old films, which is a delightful treat to me.
      Daniel Craig by now has this fucker down pat. He is Bond at this point, and his chemistry with Lèa Seydoux is pretty damn good. I bought that they were falling for each other. Christoph Waltz was exactly what I wanted in a villian. Ever since I heard his casting, I pictured him exactly like I did in this movie. That made me happier than a pig in shit. But where the movie really makes its stride is how it handles the Bond supporting characters (M, Moneypenny, Q); namely that they actually have a role in the story instead of setting the plot in motion.
     I never thought I would have to give this warning in a Bond film, but you need to see the last 3 movies. I’m not fucking around here. I thought, “Oh a reference or two ain’t bad” to “Holy shit, this is a four part movie!!!” 007 pictures are episodic in nature; not this time that’s for damn sure. You can still enjoy the movie, just that the revelations of the connective tissue won’t mean as much. This is a fan movie. This movie is exactly what I hoped it would be: A thrilling, exciting, throwback to the 60s-70s Bonds. I mean, shit, what do you expect? It’s called Spectre.

The 50 Year Battle Over Spectre

     Pretty much since the James Bond novels were published, there have been attempts to bring the series to the big screen. We now know what a phenomenon it has become, and everyone knows that the first movie was Dr. No in 1962, but the journey to movies was a mess to put it mildly, and it was Ian Fleming who fucked up on that.

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                   Ian Fleming

     In 1958, Fleming was eager to have a film of Bond so he got together with screenwriters Jack Wittingham, and Kevin McClory to write a cinematic Bond script called James Bond of the Secret Service that involved Bond investigating hijacked nuclear warheads in the Bahamas. Sound familiar? It should, because when Fleming didn’t want to work with Wittingham and McClory anymore, he took elements of the script and incorporated it into his novel Thunderball.
     When McClory read an advanced copy of the novel, he was basically like, “What the flying Fuck??!!!” and sued the shit out of Fleming. In 1963, he won his case and while the novel was already released, it had to acknowledge the original screenplay and writers, while Fleming got to keep the rights to the novel, but McClory got to keep the rights to the story, the SPECTRE organization, and villian Ernst Stavro Blofeld

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            Not pictured: Dr. Evil

     After the massive success that was Goldfinger, producers Harry Saltzman, and Cubby Broccoli worked out a deal with McClory to co-produce Thunderball. They weren’t going to let this guy make a rival Bond movie and fuck up their cash cow. So, they make the movie, and it becomes the highest grossing Bond film ever. But by making the film, McClory was not allowed to make a Bond movie for ten years, including the use of Blofeld and SPECTRE.

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              SPECTRE Logo

     Once the ten years were up, 1975, McClory went about developing his own Bond movie called Warhead. This was pretty much an original story involving SPECTRE hijacking warheads and holding New York for ransom. EON productions sued for copy write infringement, leading the court to rule that McClory can only make a movie of his Thunderball screenplay and nothing else. He did end up doing just that.

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     The only notable thing was that McClory got Connery to come back. The movie was a success, but not as much as Octopussy which was released the same year. For most people that would have been the end of it, but not McClory. The thing is that he felt ownership over the cinematic Bond, feeling that the film series’ success was because of elements he felt he created. Basically he wrote the first Bond screenplay, so movie Bond was his creation.
     In the late 90s, when Bond was enjoying it’s resurgence, McClory teamed up with Sony as they owned the rights to the Casino Royale novel, to produce a rival James Bond series using elements of introduced in Casino Royale and Thunderball with Timothy Dalton set to return as 007. MGM and EON productions lost their shit, so they went to court where it was ruled that the cinematic rights to Bond belonged to EON and MGM. A trade was worked out that in exchange for the rights to Casino Royale, MGM would give Sony the rights for Spiderman. And that put an end to any chance for a rival Bond film series.

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                 Kevin McClory

     McClory died in 2006, and was still proclaiming ownership of Bond till his dying day. Since 1971, Blofeld and SPECTRE haven’t been in an official Bond movie, and I never thought I would ever see Bond’s archenemy ever again. But in 2013, without many details released, EON bought the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE, finally ending this nasty, bitter legal fight after 50 years. I gave up hope for this resolution years ago, but when the title to Bond 24 was announced I lost my shit! (Talking about Spectre). Why is this such a big deal for me? I’ll leave you with just this image and fans will understand:

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The Bond Films That No Fan Talks About

     After reading through my 23 Bond film review I bet you were wondering, “Wait, isn’t there another Sean Connery one?” Yes there is foolish person, and we don’t discuss that outside of the Bond fandom. Why? Because it fucking sucks and is an embarrassment. Because I’m in a Bondian spirit, let me briefly introduce to you these monstrosities so I can move on in my life.

Casino Royale (1967):

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     Good god, where the fuck do I begin with this shit? This is a parody version of the novel of the same name. This happened because author Ian Fleming sold the rights to novel, which then changed hands to producer Charles Feldman and wanted to do a straight up adaptation. But he realized that the only way to compete with the EON Bond was to make a funny movie. Except it’s not. Fuck man, it’s not at all.
     Let me try to simplify it somehow: Sir James Bond (David Niven) is now retired, M (John Houston) is killed, and Bond is next. So he decides to have 7 people code named James Bond (the fucking fact that that fan theory started from this movie is something I can never ever forgive) in order to confuse SMERSH. The fact that legends like John Houston, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Orson Welles are in this poor excuse of a movie makes me sick. This thing had 5 directors on it. I’m not fucking around, 5 directors!!! I’m done talking about this, it’s not good, it’s not funny.

Never Say Never Again (1983):

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     I’m going to go more in-depth in another post about the legal shit behind Thunderball, but basically this is just a remake of Thunderball. Connery came back to do this movie out of spite for Bond film producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, and it shows. In a way, I recommend seeing this movie because you’ll learn to appreciate the standard Bond film elements: The Pretitle sequence, the gun barrel sequence, the fucking James Bond theme, all that stuff.
     In reality all that could be forgiven if the movie wasn’t so fucking boring!!! Everyone gives a half assed performance, and no amount of checking out Kim Basinger (when that meant something) can save it. There is a fun (dated) video game duel that’s fun, but that’s it. I can understand fans skipping this movie, but I say watch it so you don’t take the iconic Bond elements fit granted.

     That’s it pretty much, the two movies that I’m ashamed to have watched, and owned, for many years. They work as curiosities, but trust me that’s it. The behind the scenes stories on both movies are more entertaining than the films themselves, and that’s just fucking sad.

James Bond Reviews: #1: Casino Royale (2006)

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     For about 20 years, people have always asked me why I love the character of James Bond so much; the answer was never satisfactory to them. I always said that he was a flawed man who went through much heartbreak, and tragedy in his life. Except for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the films never helped in this argument. This was because I read the books, in particular the first novel Casino Royale. Now, after the producers were finally able to get the rights, I can finally show people this movie, and demonstrate why I love Bond so much.
     James Bond (Daniel Craig) has just recently become a 00 agent, and is sent to Casino Royale in Montenegro to take down terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Milkkenson) in a high stakes poker game. There he meets his contract Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and René Mathis (Ginncarlo Giannini), and they help 007 to get the upper hand on Le Chiffre.
     It may not seem that there’s a lot of plot to the movie, but there is. Actually, what I summed up what the plot of the book, which is the second act of the movie. The rest I’ll leave as a surprise for you. What seems to happen every so often is that the Bond films get outlandish after awhile, and they need to bring it down to basics. It doesn’t get much more basic than Bond at the beginning of his career. Yes, you get to see Bond become a 00 agent, and it didn’t take a trilogy to do it.
     The crucial element to the whole origin tale is Daniel Craig himself. The script presents a more human, flawed, rough Bond who isn’t assured in his actions. Craig shows the vulnerability in the character, the pain in his eyes, and the absolute believability that James Bond, yes James fucking Bond, can fall in love. Vesper is the rare Bond Girl were you believe that’s possible with her confidence, independence, and low tolerance for Bond’s bullshit. This was the first Bond movie that I’ve shown friends that actually see him as a person, and they’re afraid of what will happen to him, that alone separates this installment from the others.
     Before I would recommend interested people to check out a Sean Connery Bond film (mainly Goldfinger) to see if they like series enough to get invested as having over 20 films can be daunting for someone to handle. I now point to this movie, it sums up everything I cherish in the character. It took the difficult feat of turning an icon, into a living, breathing character that you worried and, more importantly, care about.

That does it for this list. Thank you to everyone one who joined me on this journey, and stuck with me to the end. Spectre will be reviewed soon, my appreciation holds no bounds.