Spectre (2015)

maxresdefaultRoze-Rating: 3.25 / 5

Daniel Craig returns for his fourth and possibly last outing as Bond… James Bond. This time, he is faced against a menacing organisation, only known as Spectre. Using a message left behind by the late M (Judi Dench), he finds himself front and center of a mystery far more personal than he would have imagined.

We’ve heard a lot about how Craig would rather slit his wrists than think about doing another Bond film, and after finally seeing Spectre, I totally understand his sentiments. The scale of some of these action sequences would make any actor squeamish, and with the added torture of a long and grueling press tour, I’m sure not even the most patient of humans would endure its entirety with high spirits. So with all the speculation about his future in the franchise making the rounds on the internet, I’d definitely take it with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, Spectre may be a worthy send off for this generation of Bond.

What seemed evident with Spectre, was that chasing thrills was more important than developing story, and luckily the thrills pay off. I’m known to sweat profusely, but that opening scene was so sweat inducing that even I was concerned for my health. By the end of that helicopter sequence, I may as well have been sitting in a swimming pool… because I was that drenched… in my own pee pee. Despite setting a high bar from the get go, the action sequences that followed, were able to stamp their own little quirks to the film, making them just as memorable as the last. Also motivating a similar lasting impression was the cinematography. It was a shame not to see Roger Deakins return to the franchise after helping produce probably the best looking Bond film to date with Skyfall. This time around, Hoyte van Hoytema, cinematographer of films such as Interstellar and Her, successfully follows in those daunting footsteps, helping produce another Bond film which is just as gorgeous to look at as it is suave. Look out for that lake shot, wowzers!

Spectre may not have topped Casino Royale or Skyfall, but it remains a respectable addition to an impressive series so far. It was my hope that Spectre would find a way back into a lighter and playful version of Bond, but instead we may have been given its darkest yet. That being said, there are countless knick-knacks throughout this film which hark back to a more familiar Bond. Franchise tropes that have been largely absent from Craig’s version of 007. There are gadgets, although not spectacular, that prove to be a step up from its predecessors, a henchman, light on words but heavy on the touch, and a villain who we briefly see with a cat… Elements to a proven formula which should result in an entertaining Bond film, but most importantly create nostalgia for the more passionate fans. The final product, although beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, doesn’t hit home as it should.

It is a film shrouded in mystery, we tag along with 007 as he tries to make sense of it all, except we never really understand or feel its severity until half way through the film. Until then I didn’t feel very invested in his journey. If it wasn’t for some thrilling set pieces, it would have been a dull ordeal for sure. A part of that is because we have to wait so long to be introduced to our villain. That’s when the story begins for me. Motives are revealed and the stakes are understood. But even then, the reveal doesn’t hit as it should. This is a villain which has appeared in numerous Bond films in the past and has proved to be quite a worthy adversary for our beloved Bond. Which makes it disappointing when the character doesn’t feel any more menacing than Craig’s previous villains. He is the most personal but feels the least fleshed out. Ultimately, for a film named Spectre, we learn very little about what they do and why they do it.  For the initiated, it may not prove to be a problem, but for the uninitiated, references and Easter eggs will not spur any sort of nostalgia the film is relying on to fill those holes. Nevertheless, It feels as though this is only the beginning of something much larger. Which is why it would seem fitting for Craig to return for one last hurrah against Spectre and tie the bow around what has been a successful series so far (was that a pun?).

Despite Spectre’s villains getting a much smaller screen time than they deserved, there were enough moments in the film to make them menacing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dave Bautista makes a pretty decent living from playing “the badass” in films, since he continues to nail them. From his physicality to his ability to convincingly exert pain on others, he has the perfect attributes of a badass, which has earned him stand out praise in two massive franchise films so far. As for Christoph Waltz, there is no questioning his abilities as an actor, and for an actor of his caliber, it would have been nice to see him shine more in a role which deserved a lot more in characterization. It’s disappointing to see a strong performance go to waste on a character that is relatively shallow and underutilized throughout the film. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t the last we see of him…. But maybe that’s just my hopeful nerd side talking

Also impressing with a strong performance is Lea Seydoux, although she too, was undone by weak characterization. Despite being given more of a soul than we’re used to with Bond girls, the side of her character which has been conditioned by the criminal life of her father isn’t explored enough to help audiences buy into the relationship her character and Bond develop. It seems to miss out on the deeper emotional connection that the characters should feel for each other, as they both know more than anyone, what it feels like to be trapped in a life that they did not choose for themselves. By the end of the film, this relationship needed to be strong enough to fuel the arc Bond takes, and because it wasn’t, it didn’t hit as hard as it could have. That being said, her character still manages to produce moments which set her apart from the most generic Bond girls. I mean what girl is crazy enough to take on Bautista!… well actually, who wouldn’t want to get their hands on that chiseled body of his.

The countless speculation about casting a new bond shouldn’t take away from another top class performance from Craig. A Bond which many have hailed the best to date. Which raises the question, why are people speculating about a new casting when clearly fans aren’t asking for one. With one more Bond film on his contract, I strongly hope he returns and finishes his series on a high. Spectre may not have met the high expectations set by its predecessor, but it is a welcome return to a character we all know and love. It’s a film that aims to be a pure throwback to the very first franchise installments which put Bond on the map and innovated the series into what we know now. From the villain to the train sequence, there are homages throughout the film that loyal fans can geek out about. Does it translate fully into a great Bond film? maybe not, but it reminds us how far the franchise has come and may even influence new fans to venture as far back as the 60s to see why this guy is such an icon.

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Emma Stone: Top 5 Films

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Emma Stone has quickly grown to be one the best female actors today with her recent triumphs in Easy A, The Help, Crazy Stupid Love, The Amazing Spider-Man and Gangster Squad. Of course she has some big films coming out soon, one being a Woody Allen project and of course a Spider-Man sequel. Before she starts getting involved in some serious blockbuster films I thought I’d recap on her best 5 out of 15 films in my opinion, since I’ve basically seen them all. There are a couple of films that I had to leave out despite enjoying them thoroughly, the films being The Rocker, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad. Even though I enjoyed them a lot, they didn’t quite match up with the following five films which prove to be pretty awesome.

5) The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Emma Stone takes on the role of Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s love interest, and totally triumphs making Bryce Dallas Howard’s interpretation of the character insignificant. To be fair Spider-Man 3 didn’t do too much justice to any of the characters and the trilogy itself, so I will take that comment back. From Spider-Man history in terms of the comics and films, we usually see the girl becoming a damsel in distress and the hero has to rise above everything to save them. Which is why Emma Stone’s take on the character was a lot more unique and memorable. Instead of being eye candy, she actually had the brains and the courage to take on the villain as opposed to standing in the most vulnerable positions with no defense plan. Ultimately it was a great performance exuding genuine on screen chemistry with the lead (Andrew Garfield), making the Spider-Man reboot a successful comic book film.

4) The Help (2011)

This film challenged Emma Stone’s ability to take on a drama, after thoroughly proving her capabilities of starring in comedy flicks. The Help exposes 1960s America focusing on its Civil Rights dilemma’s. Emma Stone is of course the hero of the film playing an aspiring author, Skeeter Phelan, coming out of university with a genuine motivation of succeeding in her field of work. After experiencing her friends discriminating attitudes towards their maids, she decides to interview two maids about their experiences with their employers and taking care of white children. This soon prompts maids from all around the village to contribute to the book idea hoping to expose the realities of racism in America. It was interesting to see Stone involved in a film with such a dark subject. At first you’re kinda expecting her to break out a silly face or a weird noise, but she balances the seriousness of the character perfectly; making her passionate and witty, illustrating her intelligence as well as humor. She joined the ranks as one of the best female actors after this film, and being cast with a group of talented women would have helped her immensely.

3) Easy A (2010)

Easy A definitely has Emma Stone written all over it. You can tell she had a lot of fun filming this movie since the character pretty much mirrors her personality. The film take’s on school culture with a unique angle integrating The Scarlet Letter as a way of boosting ones popularity. Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) originally a nobody, has had enough of being invisible and attempts to climb up the social ladder by perceiving herself as the school bike. Eventually the lies get too much for Olive and the reality of having such a reputation means a lack of respect from her peers. As said before it shouts out Emma Stone with scenes of her being wacky and going all out weird, but that’s the charm of her character and ultimately leads to quite a fun and enjoyable film. 

2) Zombieland (2009)

This is one of Emma Stones most inventive and stylish films, mixing zombies with comedy. It focuses on a group of survivors within “Zombieland”, which is a post apocalyptic world infested with zombies, trying to find their next “home”. For some, home is a twinky and for others it is a theme park across the country, but despite their difference in ambition they all have one goal, which is to survive. Emma Stone takes on a pro con artist called Witchita, using her skills along with her little sister to con their way to a theme park so that they can both finally liberate in some fun. Stone rarely portrays characters which exude sex, but this is by far her sexiest role, I mean what’s sexier than a girl who can take on zombies like a boss while looking as hawt as she does. There’s a reason she’s been linked with a future zombie film, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, it’s because she completely smashed this one.

1) Superbad (2007)

There’s no doubting the hilariousness of Superbad which is why this makes it one of my favourite comedies of all time. It has some of the most memorable characters and jokes you will see in a comedy film. It has a pretty simple plot, but what makes it so good is that it’s scarily relatable. We have all been in at least one of many situations Superbad explores, from indulging in messed up porn sites to going through literally anything to pursue a chance to bone. What also makes this film epic, is that it helped propel Emma Stone’s career from being unknown to being one of the most liked actors today, and for that we thank you Superbad. Despite the lack of Emma stone, it still ranks as her best film for me, and what a great film to debut in.

What are your Emma Stone favorites? and which upcoming Stone films are you looking forward to the most?