Just the Spectre of a Bond Movie

Well, I finally got to see the new Bond movie, Spectre.

Spectre

Spectre (2015) – Rated PG-13

A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”

I really like Daniel Craig’s Bond. He comes across as a muscle-bound thug, a blunt instrument of policy. Connery is my favorite but Craig’s ruthlessness makes him a close second. The Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan eras verged on parody with their outlandish gadgets and grandiose villains.

Casino Royale was a wonderful reboot of the franchise, bringing Bond back to the basics and packing a real emotional punch. They even included a scene from the book that I doubted would be filmed (ow!). Sadly, they followed this up with a rather lazy cash grab in Quantum of Solace.

Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) was hired to bring Skyfall to the screen. In spite of, or perhaps because of, not being an action director, he knocked it out of the park. Skyfall was not only a wonderful action picture but also a love letter to Connery’s Bond.

The success of Skyfall meant that I had seriously high hopes for the reteaming of Mendes and Craig in Spectre. Toss in one of my favorite character actors (Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds) in the villain role and I was all set.

Daniel Craig as a ruthless James Bond – check!

Attractive ladies for Bond to bed but never wed – check!

Callbacks to the Connery era (not just Spectre itself) – check!

Ridiculously dangerous-looking stunts – check!

Really evil villain – check!

Character who dies immediately after giving crucial information – check!

Requisite fancy car chase through exotic locale – check!

So why was I left underwhelmed? Well, in part it was because much of the movie seemed to be developed from the checklist.

Christoph Waltz is a fantastic actor and was absolutely chilling as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds. Unfortunately, he isn’t given as much to do here. He is physically unimposing so they felt they had to have an imposing opponent as well. Enter Mr. Hinx (though I don’t remember him being called that) played by WWE giant, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy).

There is one laughably bad action scene that I would swear was lifted from an Austin Powers movie. A dozen armed villains stand around and shoot everywhere but at Bond while he picks them off one by one.

It is explained that Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) hates guns but she shows she is quite capable with them. One would think, in the interests of self preservation, that she would pick one up off the ground when people are shooting at her but she prefers to hold hands with Bond instead.

There is a fantastic train face-off that is worth the price of admission. Yet, after destroying four train cars, Bond and Madeleine simply go back to their train car and have sex. Huh? For every wonderful scene, there is a head-scratching one.

Bottom line is that Spectre is no Skyfall or Casino Royale but neither is it Quantum of Solace. It is fun but not particularly good. It will also make plenty of money so there will be another one in a few years.

Friday This ‘n’ That – FREE 3D & YouTube Red

Epic Theatre Hendersonville

  • Intriguingly, the Epic Theatre chain has dropped their surcharge for 3D movies. I’m not a big fan of 3D movies as I find that in most movies, it serves simply as a distraction. It is supposed to make things more immersive but I find it has the opposite effect. Having said that, it is nice for patrons to have a choice without the exorbitant upcharge. Bravo, Epic!

YouTube Red

  • Borrowing a page from Hulu’s book, YouTube has introduced YouTube Red, their new ad-free service. It is $10 a month unless purchased through ios (ios charges $13). I already pay for Hulu and Netflix as well as receiving Amazon Prime because of my wife’s joy at receiving packages quickly (you can see why I don’t need cable). I can’t see shelling out for this but I can see it being useful for others (my granddaughter really enjoys toy unboxing videos).
  • This does bring up the possibility of a troubling new trend. Start something for free, get people hooked on content, then crowd the site with ads, finally offer to remove the ads if they pay each month to remove them.
  • Which brings us to microtransactions. They were an anomaly until several companies proved that you could make a fortune giving your game away and then making progress nearly impossible without a tiny tiny purchase of some in-game commodity. Now even games that cost $60 will charge you for planned but not yet released expansions, variant costumes, etc.

Spectre

  • Please pardon me as I’m off to see Spectre!

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Sorry, no posts this week as I am enjoying a much needed vacation with my darling, ever-so-supportive wife. I’m looking forward to knocking two more countries off my bucket list (Belize and Honduras) and finally sharing our love of cruising with my oldest and dearest friends.

Spectre

I hope to be back to a full slate of posts next week and while I won’t have the opportunity on vacation, I am very much looking forward to seeing Spectre (I already have three FREE tickets for it).

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Buy!

I love going to the movies (duh!) but it’s expensive. I try to finesse every FREE ticket offer and discount to keep my costs down and allow me to attend more often.

Spectre

Best Buy currently has an endcap of single James Bond titles for $7.50 each. Each one contains not only a Blu-Ray but also a digital HD copy AND $7 movie money towards Spectre.

The $7 Spectre coupons are also on many of the Bond films at Target. Many Targets also have cheap Bond Collections with digital HD copies (but no Spectre coupons).

I got the Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, and Roger Moore collections from Target, along with Quantum of Solace which had a Spectre ticket. I bought The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, each with Spectre tickets from Best Buy.

So now I have three tickets for Spectre and all of the canon Bond films on digital HD/UV/Vudu except for George Lazenby’s single turn as Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Wal-Mart and Best Buy (and likely Target as well) have Peanuts movie cash on various children’s features (the Ice Age series, the Garfields, Penguins of Madagascar, Epic, etc) as well as on some DVDs of Peanuts specials.

Oh Regal, You So Crazy! Spectre Ultimate Ticket

Regal Cinemas

I love Regal’s special offers and try to take as much advantage of them as I can. Their newest offer is hilarious. They are offering what they call the Regal Ultimate Ticket to Spectre. For $100 plus shipping (seriously, they aren’t even covering the shipping of a card!), you get an anodized steel collectible card that they will personalize with your name.

Spectre

 

So what does this card do? It allows you to see the new Bond movie at Regal Cinemas every single day. Of course they do specify only once a day and there is no mention of it being valid for RPX or IMAX. Of course as this is the only intrinsic value of the card and tickets run $8-10 in my area, I’d have to see Spectre at least ten times to get the value of the card (slightly less if they allow it to be used for RPX or IMAX).

I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie ten times in the theater. My guess would be that if I have, it would have been Star Wars or Grease when I was a kid. I’m not above seeing a movie two or three times but ten? Speaking of Star Wars, I could really see this being a hot item for that movie.

On the other hand, this might make a great collectible.

Regal IMAX Offer

Regal Crown Club

Regal Crown Club just sent out an offer I’ll take advantage of.

Enjoy the Triple Crown IMAX® Offer for a limited time. See 2 different qualifying IMAX® movies from 8/28/15 through 11/30/15 and get $10 off your next adult IMAX® movie ticket purchase. The discount will be automatically loaded to the Crown Club member’s card with qualifying purchase. The $10 offer can be redeemed at any Regal IMAX® box office. Redeem offer by 12/31/15.

Qualifying movies are:

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

The Transporter Refueled

Everest

Everest

The Walk

Crimson Peak

The Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 2

Spectre

Since I was planning on heading down to the Simpsonville IMAX (a little over an hour away) to go see Jurassic World and was already planning on doing the same for Everest, I have my two qualifiers already.

By the way, if Everest at all interests you, you should definitely read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Not only does it intimately cover the terrible true events befalling that expedition but Krakauer was actually there at the time (and is depicted by Michael Kelly (Stamper in House of Cards) in the movie).

 

2015 Woohoo!

Wow! I cannot believe how many marvelous things I am looking forward to in 2015. The year is apt because all of the returning movie franchises make me feel like I’m fifteen again.

The top ten TV series I am looking forward to in 2015:

1. Game of Thrones Season 5

2. The Walking Dead Season 6 (and rest of 5)

3. Daredevil (Netflix so yay for Day 1 binge)

4. Penny Dreadful Season 2

5. Westworld (HBO)

6. Mad Men Final Season

7. Ash vs. Evil Dead (the return of Bruce Campbell)

8. Agent Carter (in spite of being disappointed with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

9. Doctor Who

10. Sherlock

The movies were very hard to winnow down and there are dozens that I am looking forward to. The top ten 2015 movies I am most looking forward to are:

1. The Avengers Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon is amazing)

2. Star Wars – The Force Awakens (ditto J.J. Abrams)

3. Terminator Genisys (afraid of this but I love the franchise)
4. Jurassic World (you had me at dinosaurs)
5. Spectre (Christoph Waltz as Blofeld? Yes, please)
6. Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro returns to horror)
7. Ant Man (troubled history but official Marvel)
8. The Fantastic Four (rebooting after two terrible movies)
9. The Hunger Games Mockingjay p.2 (looking forward to seeing how this ends)
10. San Andreas (I’m a sucker for disaster movies)