Sunday, 8 November 2015

Spectre (4 Stars)

James Bond films are a British tradition. They're as British as tea and scones and Doctor Who. The comparison with Doctor Who is the closest. Both have been running for the same length of time, James Bond first appearing on the screen in 1962, Doctor Who in 1963. The Doctor has his companions, James Bond has his Bond girls. The excitement over who will be the next Bond is just as rousing as who will be the next Doctor. The difference is that the Doctor has a regeneration to explain why he always stays young; with James Bond it just happens. Ah, the magic of cinema!

While the Doctor Who series always builds on what has gone before, all the previous episodes being considered canon, the James Bond film series has slipped a reboot on us that we hardly noticed. The first 20 films (or 21, if we include "Never say never again") progress steadily from film to film, the main connecting factor gluing the films together being Desmond Llewelyn as Q.

When Daniel Craig became the 6th James Bond in 2006 he wasn't just a new actor, he was a new Bond in a new era. "Casino Royale" (2006) shows him at the beginning of his career. The following films, leading up to "Spectre" itself, have slowly built up to the existence of a secret organisation and its mysterious leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, mirroring the development in the first seven films from 1962 to 1971.

I shan't say anything else about the plot today's film. I have a lot of thoughts and ideas that I'll share in private with my friends who have seen it already, but I don't want to give away spoilers. As far as the character himself goes, it's a return to vintage Bond. He's the suave, debonair lady's man. Lea Seydoux, who plays the latest Bond girl, Dr. Madeleine Swan, recognises who she's dealing with. "There are two James Bonds", she aptly tells him. One is the perfect gentleman who treats a woman like a queen. The other is the misogynist who casts his lover off as soon as he finds someone better. No Bond girl has ever been kept from one film to the next, he always needs new flesh to keep him happy.

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