James Bond Month – Spectre (2015)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista

 

Plot: A cryptic message from 007’s past sends him pitted against a mysterious terrorist organization called Spectre, and learns of its involvement in previous events of his most dangerous missions.


Tagline – The dead are alive

Runtime: 2 Hours 28 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tries Too Hard to be an Espionage Movie

 

Story: Spectre starts as James Bond (Craig) heads to Mexico in search for his own reasons where he learns about a mysterious terrorist known as the Pale King, he doesn’t leave without causing damage, which forces M (Fiennes) to ground him from active duty.

James goes against orders, going in search of the terrorist group which after his actions in having one of its first meetings in years, to appoint a replacement to the table, where the leader (Waltz) and M have now made James their number one target, forcing James to turn to an old enemy for help.

 

Thoughts on Spectre

 

Characters – James Bond has reached the peak of his experience, he will still break the rules when it comes to tracking down a lead, only now he will need to learn to overcome modern technology placed on him to elude his superiors. James will need to take on Spectre the very group which has been involved in trying to cause chaos in all his mission. Blofeld is the leader of Spectre, the man that has been pulling all the strings, a man that has faked his own death to rise to the position of power, where his ultimate control will see him seek the power to watch the world. Madeleine is the daughter of an old enemy, she has become a target for Spectre, which means she must come out of hiding to work with James, not willing to be one of the women in James’s love life though. M is trying to keep James in line, while also dealing with the ideas that somebody C is trying to push through a new surveillance that would see the 00 branch closed. Hinx is the main hitman that is tracking down James, his is the silent type, that is bigger, more powerful and even smart, a pure brute of a hitman.

PerformancesDaniel Craig continues to not put a foot wrong in this role, handling the action and giving the cold responses to anything asked of him. Christoph Waltz just doesn’t reach the levels we know he can, it is partly because the character isn’t given the deserved time though. Lea Seydoux does well in her role, but often takes second fiddle to the scenes with Daniel in surrounding the action moments. Ralph Fiennes does step into this role well, while Dave Bautista does make for one of the more memorable hitmen in the Craig era of Bond.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond on his latest mission, which sees him coming face to face with one of the most famous villains in the franchise history Blofeld who has had hand in each of the missions he has been involved in. The base of this James Bond mission is everything we have seen before, seeing him travelling the world to fight the villain of the piece, the problem with the storytelling comes from focusing too heavily on the side part of the film which sees M needing to prove the worth of the 00 branch which is connected to the bigger picture, but takes away the reason we enjoy these films about an all out action spy star. The fact the story does continue to operate in a universe where each film is connected is also a big plus because the consequences of the actions in the previous films are being felt throughout this one.

Action/AdventureThe action in this outing does once again give us a brilliant opening sequence, which slowly turns into enhanced versions of what we have seen before through the franchise, though we do get more of a feel of an adventure here, with the locations James visits.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to give us the unique moments in the film, be it the opening in Mexico, the Austrian mountain range or the Italian meeting place, they all give the film a unique look at how everything unfolds.


Scene of the Movie –
Mexico City.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Monica Bellucci is criminally underused.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining Bond movie, when it comes to the spy side of everything nothing feels out of place, but as soon as we start looking at side stories, things start to fizzle out.

 

Overall: Entertaining Bond Outing.

Rating

 

 

James Bond Month – Skyfall (2012)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

 

Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Most Intense Bond Film

 

Story: Skyfall starts as James Bond (Craig) and Eve (Harris) working on the latest daring mission which ends in failure with James killed in action after an order from M (Dench). M finds herself being forced into early retirement by Gareth Mallory (Fiennes) with her wanting to clean up the failures of her last mission, which brings James out of his hiding to return to help M with the missing information which could expose every spy in every terrorist organisation.

James must travel to Shanghai and look into M’s past for answers as the identities have started to leak online targeting M for her past sins, James will come face to face with Silva (Bardem) a former agent hellbent on revenge for being abandoned.

 

Thoughts on Skyfall

 

Characters – James Bond has a different arc to the normal, this time he has semi-retired after being killed in action, he doesn’t stay retired for long as he needs to prove he is ready to return to action, as he will need to go face to face with a former agent who has gone rogue. This does continue the arc of learning who James can trust which keeps the character feeling like he has continued his own story, rather than just being on another mission. M is left to make the difficult decision which sees James killed in action, her actions put her in the firing line of the government who want her replaced, she isn’t going to leave her post without cleaning up her latest mission failure, but she doesn’t want any more innocent people killed, it is her past that is causing the actions of Silva, she knows she made the right call with him and now trust James to fix the problems caused. Silva is a vengeful former agent that has put together a plan to bring down M for what he believes was her abandoning him to be tortured by the enemy country. He has spent years putting this plan together and isn’t going to let James be the one to bring him down. Gareth Mallory is the man assigned to create the transition between M and her replacement, he understands the middle ground and isn’t going to accept what is best for the country. Eve is the field agent that has been working with James, only for her to be the connection to help from the headquarters. Severeine is the woman that James uses to get close to Silva, we really don’t get enough from this character though.

PerformancesDaniel Craig continues to grow into the James Bond character, he handles the action with ease, shows the determination required through the film. Judi Dench gets the biggest role for the character of M, she is fantastic in this role never looking out of place showing that a person of power can become vulnerable. Javier Bardem does make a delightfully evil villain that has his own plan for revenge. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris both provide great supporting performance, only Berenice Marlohe doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond as he must work with M to bring down a man that is determined to get revenge against her and is always one step ahead of the two. This is easily the most personal and intense story we have seen in any James Bond story, this is refreshing because we don’t get a villain who want money or destruction, they want one person to pay for their own action. The idea to dive into James’s past is interesting, it shows how he was selected in the first place, only it isn’t the best idea when you think back to the idea that each actor could be a different agent with the same code name. This story does have moments that wink to the previous films which is enjoyable to pick up on them.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does take centre stage, the opening sequence is the best in the franchise, the rest are filled with high octane chases through cities where it feels like we are watching stakes on the line.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings on the simpler side, with most of the film being set in London which shows how personal this has become against M. when we hit the final act, we do get another unusual location that previous ones haven’t had before.


Scene of the Movie –
Was that meant for me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Going too personal about James’s past.

Final ThoughtsThis is the most intense Bond film to date, it puts different stakes on the line which is refreshing to see and is easily the one that standouts from the rest in the franchise.

 

Overall: High Octane Action Film.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Emma Thompson (Screenplay) Christianna Brand (Characters)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Ewan McGregor, Oscar Steer, Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods, Maggie Smith

 

Plot: Nanny McPhee arrives to help a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war, though she uses her magic to teach the woman’s children and their two spoiled cousins five new lessons.


Tagline – The magic’s back, warts and all.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Serious Sequel

 

Story: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang starts as we meet mother Isabel (Gyllenhaal) who is trying to run the family home and raise her three children, while her husband is away at war, adding to her pressure is her brother-in-law Phil (Ifans) that is looking to get money and two cousins added to the family that are used to the luxury life.

When Isabel starts struggling, she gets the call from Nanny McPhee (Thompson) who offers to help put the children back in line with her magic. The children must learn to work together to help the farm stay in the right hands.

 

Thoughts on Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang

 

Characters – Nanny McPhee is the magical nanny that comes to family’s when they are in need of support, she has come to this family in their time of need to help teach them how to be together in one of the most difficult times in their lives, the war, she brings her rules like before as she looks to bring the best out in the people. Isabel is the mother of the three that is trying to run and farm and work, her husband is at war, with the uncertainty of whether he will be returning. She doesn’t want help, but must accept it to keep the pressures of her life away from her children. Phil is the brother-in-law to Isabel, he has created his own gambling debts and wants the farm to clear the debts, he will do anything to get what he needs. Mrs Docherty is the boss of Isabel and family friend, she isn’t quite all there which makes her character come off funnier than she should. The children do come from different worlds which does see them clash in the time of conflict.

PerformancesEmma Thompson does continue to enjoy playing this role which she handles with ease. Maggie Gyllenhaal gets to play the role well through the film, which shows us just how difficult a position her character is in. Rhys Ifans does everything you would imagine in the comedy role in the film, while Maggie Smith also adds plenty of comedy through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a mother that takes over the family farm with her husband away at war, with money running low and the stress of life getting to her, that gets help from Nanny McPhee. The story here easily becomes a much more serious one because we are dealing with children that are being separated from their parents during war, where they don’t know if their family will be together once the war is over. This story does have a very different tone to the first one, one that does feel real, even though it does seem slightly stranger for Nanny McPhee to be here, this time around. The story here is more entertaining than the original which is always a good thing.

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy in the film does hit better than the first film, most of it comes from the arguments which feel funnier, the fantasy in the film does work too, which ends up blending with the comedy involved.

SettingsThe film is mostly set within one farm which does show us just how much trouble the family will be facing in their time of need.

Special EffectsThe effects here are the biggest step back sadly because we can see the CGI moments looking completely out of place.


Scene of the Movie –
Connection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great sequel that does have a strong story to cover up the weaker CGI being used in the film.

 

Overall: Wonderful sequel.

Rating

 

 

Great Expectations (2012)

Director: Mike Newell

Writer: David Nicholls (Screenplay) Charles Dickens (Novel)

Starring: Toby Irvine, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Sally Hawkins, William Ellis, David Walliams, Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter

 

Plot: A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic story

 

Story: Great Expectation starts as we meet the orphaned boy Pip, living with his sister and brother in law Joe (Flemyng) a blacksmith raising Pip to be his assistant. After Pip learns of a better life he dreams of becoming a gentleman in London after spending time with Miss Havisham (Carter) and her own orphan Estella.

Now a young man Pip (Irvine) gets to move back to the city after an unknow inheritance, so leaving his family and friends behind, Pip gets to start on the road to becoming a gentleman. Pip finds himself needing to learning the hierarchy of the wealthy as he also wants to know who gave him the chance to become one of the gentlemen of the city and even after his childhood sweetheart Estella (Grainger) returns to his life, love takes over his life.

 

Thoughts on Great Expectation

 

Characters/PerformancePip is a young man who dreamt of being a gentleman in London, but achieve this he must learn a new way, forget his past and even find himself wondering about who put him in a position of power while dealing with love. Magwitch is a prisoner that Pip helped at a young age and a man that comes back into the life to learn the truth about the past. Miss Havisham is a lonely woman left heartbroken after being conned and left at the alter, she has been teaching Estella about the ways of the man, teaching her to never love. Estella is the young woman that Pip falls in love with when they are children and no as adults doesn’t believe she has a heart even though Pip wants to love her.

Performance wise, we have a very impressive cast that all give us wonderful performances fitting into the period piece that this film is.  

StoryThis is one of Charles Dickens classics tales and one I was unfamiliar with, so I thought I would give it a go. This story shows the social hierarchy during the early 19 century, this is one that has forbidden love, revenge and a position of what would be the right thing in life. I do feel this is one story people should be enjoy even if this might not be the best version.

RomanceThe romance side of this comes from Pip falling for Estella and is left wondering if he could fall in love during a time when status would put people together.

SettingsEach setting makes us believe we are in the time the film is set whether it be the small marsh like area of the city of London.

Final ThoughtsClassic story and one that goes in a direction you could only find yourself wanting to know more about.

 

Overall: A must watch for classic literature fans.

Rating

 

 

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

legoDirector: Chris McKay

Writer: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington (Screenplay) Seth Grahame-Smith, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster (Story/Creators)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate

 

Plot: Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: PG Suicide Squad?

 

Story: The LEGO Batman Movie starts when Joker brings together every villain Batman has face to try and take down Gotham City once again only for Batman to save the day with the Joker escaping. We follow Batman in his lonely life in his Bat Cave and Wayne Manor with Alfred his loyal butler.

When Gotham gets a new commissioner in Barbara Gordon she wants to work with Batman to actual catch Joker and the rest of the villains locking them away once and for all. Batman must learn to work in a team and learn that he needs the Joker in his life while he adopts Dick Grayson.

 

Thoughts on The LEGO Batman Movie

 

StoryThe story focuses on how Batman lives a lonely life hiding from commitments while still having to take on the villains in the city. This does end up being slightly too serious in places which doesn’t work for me because we must deal with elements most Batman movies never have. Through the film, we do get plenty of references from every Batman through the years which we do get to understand for all generations.

Action/Adventure/ComedyWe do have plenty of action going on through the film with the adventure that Batman must go on. The comedy is very much hit or miss for me with plenty of laughs coming from references previous outings that not everyone would understand.

CharactersBatman is always a popular choice for the leading character but this version does feel almost too serious when he is alone, he does have laughs but he is very hit or miss, The Joker works in places and has good chemistry with Batman while Robin, Barbara and Alfred all become the family Batman never had. I feel most of the cameo like characters get extras laughs which all come off well if you understand their references.chracers

SettingsThe settings are nearly all in Gotham city with the references to location the character would find themselves in.

AnimationWe always have flawless animation throughout the film which you would expect to see from the studios now.genre

Final ThoughtsThis is fun and can be enjoyed but I do feel if you miss the certain references you might not understand.

 

Overall: Fun, but too many misses in the jokes.

Ratingrating