Once again you must see the new James Bond 007 movie “Spectre” in IMAX and nowhere else when it opens in IMAX theaters today, Thursday, November 5, and elsewhere on Friday.
Not only does the giant screen format make for a much bigger-is-better visual treat but the full treatment also includes a superb audio experience in which your seats rumble from bass vibrations from the IMAX sound system every time a building blows up – which is at least three times at the beginning, middle and end.
As for the movie itself, thank goodness the iconic gun barrel sequence has been restored to the beginning of the movie where it belongs for the first time since Daniel Craig took over the lead role, even if the familiar theme music is still not heard until the end of the film.
The new Aston Martin prototype DB 10 gets shown off in a fine chase scene, and the original Aston Martin also returns in a clever couple of cameos after seemingly being destroyed in the previous “Skyfall.”
There are even some apparently intentionally homages to several early Bond movies that begins with the opening pre-title Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City that recalls the funeral parade in “Live and Let Die,” and includes an extended fist-fight aboard a train a la “From Russia With Love,” a visit to a flashy secluded resort atop a mountain in the Swiss Alps similar to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” a fight with Blofeld on a helicopter that recalls “For Your Eyes Only,” and a bulky, hulking villain who is reminiscent of “Jaws.”
The new actors in the roles of M, Q, and Moneypenny all return, with Q getting the character’s most active participation yet, and M even getting in on the action a bit. Sadly, Moneypenny’s role is diminished a tad from her splashy debut in “Skyfall.”
And historic Bond villain Blofeld and his white cat also make a return appearance.
<Review continues below the following trailer and interviews/highlights about production of massive pre-title sequence in Mexico City…>
There is still very little humor or just plain fun, a slow-paced and bloated story with a running time of nearly 2 1/2-hours, and very few of the unique aspects of the character and elements that separate James Bond movies from all others. It’s only when the original Aston Martin DB 5 makes an entrance near the end that the audience gets to enjoy a reminder of what attracts audiences to 007 movies.
Having Bond continue to be tortured about his lonely childhood after losing his parents is growing wearisome, as is the repeated concept of having Bond go rogue in order to save the world – this time due to another tired premise of the 00-department threatened with elimination by new technology. We want to see Bond acting out the orders of his British agency with their full, if eye-rolling support of his tactics, not constantly at odds with his own people.
This leads to credibility issues as 007 and his lady keep traveling globally first class with no indication of where the money is coming from, keep showing up in new and tailored suits and gorgeous outfits despite carrying no luggage, and keep inexplicably supplied with new guns.
The pre-title sequence recalls one of the elements of 007 movies, but it is also completely lacking in credibility — while fist-fighting in a helicopter the chopper swoops, climbs, spins and even flies upside down endlessly above the crowds of Mexico’s annual Day of the Dead festival. It’s also far too long and ends without a big bang or even humorous conclusion.
Finally, Sam Smith’s theme song “Writings on the Wall” is a far cry from Adele’s “Skyfall,” not only as a song but also with Smith singing in Mickey Mouse-like high voice.
But in the end it’s a Bond movie and all 007 movies must be seen at least once in a theater, and these days they must be seen in IMAX to get the maximum experience.
— By Scott Hettrick