Friday, December 4, 2015

Spectre (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

James Bond Vs. “Spectre”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

After 27 James Bond films, we finally get to know the arch-villain who’s responsible for all the bad things in the world. It’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld. You haven’t heard him mentioned since “Never Say Never Again” in 1983.

So for you younger 007 fans let me explain that Blofeld heads up the global crime syndicate known as the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. That’s Spectre, for short.

And as it happens “Spectre” is the title of this latest Bond extravaganza. Extravaganza is the proper word, in that at $350 million it’s tied with “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” as the second most expensive movie ever made.

You can catch “Spectre” at Tropic.

This is Daniel Craig’s fourth turn as the British secret agent with a license to kill. He’s contracted to do one more film.

For this outing, Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomi Harris (Miss Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q), and Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner) return. Even Dame Judi Dench (the previous M) makes a cameo appearance.

Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci join the cast as Bond Girls.

But, of course, you want to know who’s playing Blofeld -- right? It’s Christoph Waltz, the two-time Oscar-winner famed for playing charming but sinister characters.

The right to use Spectre and Blofeld had been in contention since 1961 when writer Kevin McClory sued Bond-creator Ian Fleming over the film rights. McClory claimed Fleming had stolen the concepts from an undeveloped film script written by McClory and Jack Whittingham. Fleming settled out of court, leaving its use in future films questionable. In 2013, MGM acquired the full copyright film rights to the concept of Spectre and all of the characters associated with it.

With these rights in hand, director Sam Mendes -- along with writers John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth -- have used this return of Spectre to tie Daniel Craig's 007 films together with an over-arching storyline. Turns out, Quantum is merely a division of Spectre.

The plot isn’t based on one of Ian Fleming’s novels. Here’s what the screenwriters came up with: On orders from the previous M (Dench) James Bond goes to Mexico where he kills two men trying to blow up a stadium, in the process confiscating an octopus ring. Defying orders by the current M (Fiennes), Bond goes to Rome where he tries to infiltrates Spectre, using the ring as entry. That doesn’t work out too well, but it leads our hero on a manhunt that takes him from Austria to Morocco to London.

Yes, there’s plenty of breathtaking action like you’ve come to expect. You won’t be disappointed. Now credited as a producer of the film, aging 47-year-old Daniel Craig intends to go out with a bang.

“I wanted to do as much of the action work as I could, so that the audience can see it’s me and it’s real,” says Craig. “That meant acquiring injuries and carrying on and bashing through to the next level of pain ... If you don't get bruised playing Bond, you’re not doing it properly. I had black eyes, I had cuts, I was bruised, I had muscle strains, and I took a lot of painkillers. But it was part of the job. As much as I was hurt, the stuntmen were in much more pain.”

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