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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Spectre

March 7th, 2016

Spectre - Buy from Amazon: DVD, and Blu-ray
Video on Demand


Spectre is the latest Bond film. It is a follow-up to Skyfall, which not only earned stellar reviews, but was also the biggest box office hit in the franchise earning more than $1 billion worldwide. Spectre wasn't as strong at the box office or with critics, but I'm a long time fan of the franchise, so I will still like it, right?

The Movie

Oh boy.

I've been struggling to write the review for this movie for three reasons, firstly, I found it incredibly boring. I was not expecting that. This problem starts from the very beginning. The opening prologue is a ten-minute scene that takes place in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead celebrations. For most of the running time, it is a single take. This looks stylish, but the demands of a single-shot really hurt the pacing. By the time anything happens, it is already five minutes into the movie. Being stylish is fine, but not at the cost of the substance. The prologue isn't the only example of this problem. Throughout the movie, there were scenes that were stylish, but moved way too slowly. It's a slog to get through, it would be dreary to write about, and probably even less fun to read. However, I need to get a few plot details out there.

Bond was in Mexico looking for Marco Sciarra, because the previous M told him to. She believed there was a secretive organization that was in control of all of the crime they have been dealing with in the reboots. Sciarra is one such person. M wanted Bond to find him and kill him, then go to his funeral and find someone who would know about his business and would be willing to talk. That person is Lucia Sciarra, Sciarra's widow.

Meanwhile, the current M is dealing with problems of his own. His organization has been merged with MI-5 and the head of MI-5, C, thinks the Double-O program should be shut down. The incident in Mexico is just the latest example of that. C is instead planning on setting up a global surveillance program. This brings us to problem number two. The mystery. Bond movies are Spy Thrillers. They rely on big action scenes set pieces, but also some mystery. So problem number two is... I didn't find the mystery engaging, at all. As soon as C was introduced, it took about 30 seconds for me to figure out he was working with the bad guys. I was really hoping I was wrong, because that would be a really bad cliché. I wasn't wrong. Furthermore, when we do learn more about the mastermind behind the whole thing, it felt like another lazy cliché.

Back to the plot, Bond gets some help from Q and Moneypenny and is able to track down the Pale King, who says he can provide the information Bond needs, if Bond agrees to take care of his daughter, Madeleine Swann. This takes us to the third problem. Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux have zero chemistry together. I never bought that these two were an item.

So does Spectre have some positive notes? Some of the action set pieces are good. We have more hints of gadgets and I personally believe goofy gadgets set Bond movie apart from other spy thriller franchises. There are hits of humor and that has been lacking in previous installments. I would rather watch a goofily bad Bond than a dull one and this one is dull.

One final note... how the hell did "Writing's on the Wall" win Best Original Song over "Til It Happens to You"? They are not even in the same league.

The Extras

The extras are really weak. There is only a 20-minute making of featurette about the opening sequence, plus ten minutes of video blogs. That's no where near enough for a monster hit like this.

At the moment the Blu-ray costs $19, which is good for this kind of film. It does look and sound impressive on high definition. The DVD is only $10, which is very cheap.

The Verdict

I was really looking forward to seeing Spectre, but it just never captured me the way most Bond movies do. Furthermore, the extras on the DVD, and Blu-ray are substandard for a first-run release. Granted, most critics like it more than most people and if you are a fan of James Bond, then it is likely worth at least a rental.

Filed under: Video Review, Spectre, James Bond, Judi Dench, Monica Bellucci, Jesper Christensen, Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Andrew Scott, Naomi Harris, Alessandro Cremona