Does It Look Like It’s Our First Time? Spectre

Well, this was rough

Hey there and welcome to the final entry in Does It Look Like It’s Our First Time? It has been a hell of a ride and I think I speak for everyone involved when I say that I’m proud of the work we’ve done and I hope you are too. So, without further delay lets dive into it with our last film, Spectre.

Before watching this, I was so excited, I mean you had Sam Mendes returning as director, Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, and Daniel Craig returning as Bond. It seemed like it could be a fantastic movie! However, I was without a doubt let down. I wasn’t mad, just disappointed. I can’t count the number of times I had to rewind the movie because I either zoned out or fell asleep watching, it’s that boring.

With Skyfall, we went a little more in depth to Bond’s past which is fine. It was nice getting to learn a little more about how he came to be who he is today. However, as the writers of Spectre hopefully learned, you really can have too much of a good thing. The character of Bond is straight forward. He’s a martini swilling, ass kicking, womanizing (for better or worse), spy with a license to kill. He’s not a character that you need to overthink. A little depth is nice but there comes a point where it gets too much and it begins to take away from the mystery and intrigue of the character. In Spectre we learn that after his parents were killed he was sent to live with a man named Hannes Oberhauser and his son Franz. If the makers had stopped there with Bond’s background then that would have been fine. They had a much more interesting sub-plot with the 007 program being dismantled and replaced with a surveillance program called Nine Eyes, led by Max Denbigh (a wasted role played by the incredible Andrew Scott). If the writers had focused on that instead then I get the feeling this review would be a lot more positive.

Through a seemingly convoluted (really its straight forward but made to look complicated because the writers were too lazy to put actual effort into the writing) plot, we discover that all the recent events in Bond’s life (M’s death, Vesper’s death, La Chiffe, Raoul Silva, etc.) were orchestrated by Franz Oberhauser who is now the head of Spectre and has adopted the named Ernst Stavro Blofeld.  Damnit! Just leave Spectre and Blofeld in the past. By having Blofeld be behind everything the writers undermine the motivations of the previous villains. While it’s nice to have callbacks to the previous films such as Q’s quip in Skyfall about not using exploding pens anymore or the ejector seat in this movie, they should be small otherwise you risk taking away from the movie as a whole and then some.

I think the thing that pissed me off the most about this movie isn’t the fact that Spectre is back, or that they had a weak plot, it was Blofeld’s motivation. What is his grand motivation you ask yourself? Is it money? Is it power? Is it a desire to change the world to how he sees fit? No, its daddy issues. Seriously, you didn’t read that wrong. Franz/Blofeld/Whoeverthehell felt that once his dad temporarily took in James that he became the favorite son. Because of this Blofeld killed his father, faked his death, and then formed Spectre. Right about now was where my disappointment with the film hit its all-time high. Going back to what I said about how these films are straight forward, this includes the villains as well. While a tragic or messed up backstory is fun once in a while, sometimes it needs to be superficial, providing us with only the bare minimum of information as to avoid disappointing motivations like the one above. The thing is, the Bond series did a great job regarding the villain’s motivation just one film before so we know this isn’t some foreign concept! In Skyfall, we were given just enough information about Silva to understand who he was, what his motivations were, and just how dangerous he was. That’s enough.

For whatever reason, mediocre seems to be the word that best describes some of the work put into this. Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux as the Bond girls are both disappointing. That’s not to say they aren’t talented actresses, they most certainly are. But the material they were given to work with just makes their character forgettable. Now I’m not saying give them ridiculous names to make them stand out like Pussy Galore or Christmas Jones, but actually write them interesting parts. It’s a simple concept.

While we’re on disappointing mediocrity let’s talk about the music. Thomas Newman is an incredible composer, I just sang his praises in the Skyfall review. But like, the roles of the Bond girls, nothing really stands out about the music for this. It feels like Newman just did the bare minimum to get his paycheck. If they bring him back for Bond 25 hopefully he’ll do a better job

Overall while this movie had some fun points (it was nice seeing M jump into the fray and Q is always good for a laugh) and Craig does a passable job as Bond (you can clearly see how tired he is with the role) it was disappointing overall. The plot was weak, the motivations were weak, the acting was alright, and don’t even get me started on Sam Smith’s theme (spoiler: it is perhaps the worst Bond song and is mediocre at best). Hopefully the next film in the series will be better.

Well, that’s all for this series. Got comments? Questions? Ideas about where you think the series should go? Comment below. As always, thanks for reading.

  • Thank you CJ, for your noble sacrifice.

  • People like to describe DIE ANOTHER DAY as the worst Bond movie, but I have to give that to SPECTRE. I realize it’s the latest, so it’s fresh in my mind, but this film is just so dishwater dull. For all its idiocy, there’s some enjoyment to be found in DIE ANOTHER DAY’s campiness. I would much rather watch that than this total slog of a movie. And that’s not even getting into the “author of all your pain” stuff.

  • YayMayorBee

    God help me, but I’m going to defend SPECTRE. I watched it for the second time recently and found it surprisingly enjoyable. Granted, I’ve barely had a single full night’s sleep in 3 months, and that might be relevant here.

    Anyway.

    The film has two principle flaws: (1) Sam Mendes can’t stop giving Daniel Craig Roger Moore-type direction in the action scenes; and (2) Thomas Newman’s score is flat out terrible. These two, working in tandem, rob each and every single action scene of all drama. I thought it was the editing the first time I saw the movie, but no. Watch it on mute–the editing is just fine. It’s Craig having these weird moments of levity that, while genuinely Bond-ish, don’t fit the tone of the scene at all; it’s Newman laying down limp, mismatched music (this is especially egregious in the Rome car chase). With the possible exception of the cold open, there’s not a single action scene that works 100%. (But, you know, in the grand scheme of things, mediocre action is pretty standard for Bond.)

    Everything else basically works, in my opinion.

    Is Denbigh too cartoonishly villainous? Not if you accept that his villainy isn’t actually a twist. Regardless of whether he’s working for S.P.E.C.T.R.E., he’s an antagonist to MI6. Would it really have been better for Denbigh to be played by another proper British chap who seemed harmless? I feel like that would be boring.

    Is Blofeld stupid? Yes. But so is every prior incarnation of Blofeld. He’s never had a good plan and he’s never really been anything but a laughable would-be criminal genius. Telly Savalas comes closest to making him a formidable villain, but most of the time he’s just a middle-aged weirdo. I’ll give Christoph Waltz this–he’s having fun with such a dumb role.

    As far as the “author of all your pain” stuff, on second watch, that seemed like an incidental thing. Like, “oh, all these people were S.P.E.C.T.R.E., by the way, isn’t that a funny coincidence?” I don’t get the sense from that exchange that they intended Blofeld to have literally been setting up these villains to specifically to get to Bond.

    As far as the secret brothers thing… I’ve made my peace with it. They’re doing a dark mirror thing, where Bond’s orphan status made him 1 kind of emotionally broken killer, while it did something else to Blofeld. It’s silly, but if you want SPECTRE with the idea that Blofeld and Bond coming into conflict again is a coincidence rather than some ridiculously orchestrated, 30-year master plan by Blofeld, it’s OK.

    Lastly, I think Lea Seydoux is actually pretty great. She combines Bond’s emotional isolation and hyper-competence (Craig’s reaction when he finds out she can handle a gun is priceless) with Vesper’s fear of violence and resistance to participating in a spy’s life. The chemistry isn’t as explosive, but on second watch I thought the relationship worked.

    P.S. “The Writing’s On the Wall” is bad in the way many, many Bond songs are bad. There’s only, like, 5 genuinely great opening songs (“A View to a Kill,” “Live and Let Die,” “Nobody Does It Better,” and “Skyfall”). The rest are various levels of OK to bad.

  • I’ve always felt that Spectre’s greatest sin is that it’s just kind of dull. We remember the great Bonds and the terrible Bonds, but this one is so middle of the road that it’s destined to just have the few pieces that worked remembered, while the rest of it gets mixed up with other films.