SPECTRE (2015)

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James Bond is back with Daniel Craig reprising the role for the fourth time. He is a great Bond showing us the character’s deep waters, but can only rise as high as the material in front of him and in this instance the material is shoddy, much less exciting or as well made as the previous film.

The job as a Bond director can NOT be an easy one, there is so much to contend with. Sam Mendes doesn’t quite do justice to the franchise with this film.

It seems like the writers tried to shoehorn the narrative (or certain plot points) from the last three films into this one and in doing so stepped many steps backwards from the heights and excitement of Skyfall. This is totally in response to the fact that Universal can now legally use Spectre(TM) and the characters relating to the organisation and in the process of ushering this in the quality diminishes SPECTRE-acularly (soz).

In 2013 a legal issue concerning S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and all its characters was finally resolved, MGM acquired the rights to characters and concepts of SPECTRE and the film-makers brought this to the script of this film, by trying to integrate this into the latest film, they have mis-stepped.

This film is like two episodes of the BBC series Spooks with more money, just a bit ‘meh’. The treatment of women in this film also seems so regressive after the strength of previous female characters, the wonderful Monica Belucci is wasted in her role as Lucia Sciarra, she is brilliant but the script gives her very little to play with. Léa Seydoux is also under-used here playing a damsel in distress, which is so old and tired now. The greatest aspects of Skyfall were the storyline that Dame Judy was given and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny seemed to have more dimensions than previous incarnations of this character. This ain’t the 60’s anymore, let’s catch up people.

The set pieces are better than Quantum of Solace but still seem tame, not as tight or engaing or exciting as the ones in Skyfall.
The whole film is marginally better than QOS, maybe slightly inferior to Casino Royale. The fantastic Christophe Waltz is also wasted, great as he is, also not afforded much chance to shine. Nowhere near as effective as Javier Bardem in Skyfall, this is not down to his talent, the fault lies with the script. Dave Bautista is a perfect Bond henchman, a force that will not be easily stopped and while his addition to the story and cast is welcome it comes too little too late amongst the confusion and damp squibby-ness of the journey.

Andrew Scott playing C is a little too smarmy and one dimensional for me, he is a decent actor, but the fault lies predominantly with the average material.
Ben Whishaw is settling into the role of Q nicely, although I much preferred his scenes from Skyfall. (Did I mention that I didn’t like this film as much as Skyfall already?).

Enough already with the old standards, let’s get back to the dizzying heights of the new that we have seen just recently. It’s much more interesting.

A wasted opportunity. :O(.

2/5.

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)

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In 1969 the first comic book version of G.O.T.G. was born into the Marvel universe. Then in 2008 they were rebooted and the main protagonists (and villains) that became the team, containing previous and new members, were brought together to protect the galaxy. We’ll call them the modern team. These are the Guardians that are featured in this fantastic film version of the comics.

Casting is key here, Chris Pratt is perfect as the Starlord, Peter Quill as are the rest of the team. Zoe Saldana, always excellent, is Gamora, Dave Bautista is Drax, Bradley Cooper brings the voice of a fantastic character, Rocket Raccoon and Vin Diesel uses his dulcet tones to bring to life another great character, Groot. The original serial killer, Michael Rooker is on tough guy duties as Yondu, the sometime collaborator of Quill. Lee Pace delivers the bad guy, Ronan the Accuser to life. Bringing up the support are John C. Reilly, Peter Serafinowicz, Djimon Hounsou, the beautiful Laura Haddock and the irrepressible Glenn Close. Special mentions go to Karen Gillan as Nebula and Alexis Rodney as Moloka Dar.

Now, with a cast like this, your acting duties are well taken care of. All you need is a great story, directing, soundtrack and the elements are all in place.
James Gunn directs this wonderful addition to the Marvel canon with aplomb.

Marvel just seems to be getting better and better at delivering brilliant, entertaining superhero films. The last venture being Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which showed that they are beginning to make films worthy of their pedigree. Although the previous films have made a shed-load of money, they have fallen short of artistic quality. With Guardians they are establishing a real understanding of how to do it properly.

This film ticks so many of the right boxes, the set ups, the characters, story, the humour and effects and one would surely be looking forward to the next film in this series.

This is a big budget film with great low budget sensibilities.
The Guardians are Iron Man and the Hulks geekier, less cool, younger cousins.
This one has come out of the gates racing ahead of the race with a rag tag group of reprobates truly kicking the door of the hinges of the Marvel film universe.

The Usual Suspects in space.

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4/5