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Non-Review Review: Spectre

Second acts are always tough.

This is very much the case with Spectre, whether in terms of the film itself and its relationship with Skyfall. Despite the considerable backlash that Skyfall has generated since its release – an inevitability in this era of hype – it remains one of the best-loved and best-received James Bond films. It makes sense for the follow-up to try to capitalise on that success, in much the same way that Tomorrow Never Dies attempted to up the ante from GoldenEye and that Quantum of Solace attempted to build upon Casino Royale.

Spectre will suffer in the inevitable comparisons to Skyfall. The film doesn’t have the same clarity of purpose, revisits a few too many of the same things, and lacks the sheer beauty of Roger Deakins’ cinematography. Any direct comparisons between the two films will see Spectre coming up short. This is a shame as, taken on its own merits, Spectre is a remarkably successful James Bond film. Indeed, with three out of his four films firmly in the “hit” category, Daniel Craig assures his place as a James Bond for the ages.

Spectre is perhaps a little over-extended and gets a little lost in its own extended middle section. It perhaps falls a little too heavily into the “origin story” territory teased by Skyfall. However, it is stylish and confident, with charisma to spare. Spectre retains the energy and verve of its predecessor, capitalising on a script that knows what it wants to be about and perhaps the franchise’s most artful director. Spectre is one of the better Bond films, but it suffers from having to follow one of the very best.

A nice ring to it...

A nice ring to it…

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Infinite Crisis: Day of Vengeance (Review)

This month I’m taking a look at DC’s massive “Infinite Crisis” Event. Although it was all published in one massive omnibus, I’ll be breaking down the lead-in to the series to tackle each thread individually, culminating in a review of the event itself. Check back for more.

It seems like, within the last decade or so, DC has had a great deal of difficulty organising its “magic and mystic” books. DC generally provided a nice home for books like Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing or John Ostrander’s Spectre, but it seemed like there wasn’t really an abundance of successful magic-themed books in the early part of the new millennium. DC would consciously attempt to remedy this with their “dark” line as part of the “new 52” relaunch, but Day of Vengeance feels like something of an awkward earlier attempt to streamline that corner of the shared universe and to prepare it for some sort of creative relaunch.

One for sorrow, two for joy… What for a few dozen?

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A View to a Bond Baddie: Ernst Stavro Blofeld

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

Blofeld is unique among the Bond villains for his capacity to keep turning up. He’s appeared in more on-screen adventures than any other Bond baddie, and he survives in the popular imagination, with a lot of gossip about the next Bond film likely to debate whether or not they’re bringing Blofeld back. The character has endured in the public imagination as the Bond baddie, and he’s perhaps best immortalised as Micheal Myers’ Doctor Evil from the Austin Powers movies. However, watching his appearances again, I’m actually struck by how little consistency there is in the portrayal of his character, and I can’t help but wonder if the reason he endures is because of his versatility as an adversary.

Bond movies have a remarkable adaptability. They can be serious, campy, ridiculous, sombre, mature and juvenile, often all at the same time. As far as Bond villains go, Blofeld’s really the only villain who can compete with that.

He looks like the cat who got the canary…

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Final Crisis: Revelations (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

I have to admit, I’ve always preferred DC’s approach to big comic events, as opposed to the approach at Marvel. While Marvel’s events (like Civil War or Secret Invasion) seem to exist to encroach on a writer’s comic book run (Ed Brubaker’s Captain America or Matt Fraction’s Iron Man), DC’s events tend to allow writers to tidy up loose ends. Or, to be fair, that’s what Final Crisis appeared to do. The major tie-in miniseries didn’t seem to exist to fill in gaps with the main book. Instead, they allowed the writers to resolve or move forward their own plots. For Geoff Johns, Rogues’ Revenge allowed him to segue between his first Flash run and Flash: Rebirth, while Legion of Three Worlds allowed him to sort out some outstanding Legion of Superheroes continuity.

Revelations exists to serve as a coda to Greg Rucka’s superb Gotham Central and his Question series, as well as tying in a bit to his upcoming Batwoman work. While I’m not the biggest fan of “comic book events” in general terms, I do respect that they allow writers to tell stories they might not otherwise get a chance to.

Shine a light…

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Non-Review Review: Thunderball

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

Thunderball perhaps gets a bit of a bad wrap because it’s perhaps not quite as good as From Russia With Love or Goldfinger. I’d argue that very few Bond films are. Thunderball perhaps represents the first moment that the series came to a rest – the first three installments had been built around establishing the character, his world and the tropes and clichés that viewers could expect from movie to movie. Sometimes concepts evolved gradually (for example, the novelty henchmen grew from the three blind assassins to Klebb and her knifey boots to Oddjob), while sometimes they were introduced suddenly (Bond’s Aston Martin), but by the time the fourth film came around, all these elements had been fairly firmly established. As such, the fourth film seemed to be more intent on consolidating the series than in breaking new ground. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.

Bond isn't washed up... yet...

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