The first reviews for SPECTRE are in!

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Today marks exactly 5 weeks until we get to see Spectre on our screens in South Africa. Unfortunately, this makes us the 2nd last country in the world to actually witness James Bond’s latest adventure (Japan is in dead last, so take this as some sort of pyrrhic victory/revenge for what happened in the Rugby World Cup). But over in Bond’s British backyard, the film actually debuts today, and a handful of reviews from English publications already popped up yesterday.

So what’s the verdict? Does Daniel Craig’s possibly last jaunt as 007 live up to the bar-raising performance set by its Oscar-winning, box office record breaking predecessor Skyfall? Well, let’s find out.

“After three films more rooted in real-world worries than Pierce Brosnan’s mostly fantastical vehicles, Spectre relaxes a little (even if it debates the ethics of surveillance and the relevance of licensed-to-kill boots on the ground in an age of drones). Craig doesn’t get Connery-Moore quips, but allows much more wry humour to sneak into his hardman-in-a-suit hero. When a beautiful woman mentions that the astonishing scenery (and art direction) of her mountaintop clinic can be a distraction, Craig’s smooth throwaway as he focuses intently on her (“Really? I hadn’t noticed”) is typical of the kind of laugh only he can get. Roger Moore would have arched an eyebrow, but Craig is funny because he doesn’t wink at the audience — but can also turn off the charm when it’s time to throw someone through a window.”

“Even if [Spectre] is less satisfying overall than Skyfall, there are sequences that rank with Bond’s best. The pre-credits set piece, with a skull-masked Bond in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead, opens with a Touch Of Evil-style tracking shot that’s a stunner (Daniel Craig just walking briskly across precarious rooftops with style is a thrilling spectacle) and delivers a definitive struggle-inside-an-out-of-control-helicopter climax most films would save for a finale. After such things have been out of fashion for a while, it’s great to see Spectre back in business — with an evil business meeting in Rome and a spectacular desert lair in Tunisia, inhabited by a mercurially nasty, whimsical, overconfident chairman (Christoph Waltz) who wipes the taint of Dr. Evil away from the part and matches the amusing menace of Donald Pleasence or Gert Frobe.”

“…Daniel Craig is back in a terrifically exciting, spectacular, almost operatically delirious 007 adventure – endorsing intelligence work as old-fashioned derring-do and incidentally taking a stoutly pro-Snowden line against the creepy voyeur surveillance that undermines the rights of a free individual. It’s pure action mayhem with a real sense of style.”

“Waltz’s chief is an almost papal presence of menace, upsetting all his cringing subordinates by saying and doing next to nothing, and photographed in shadow. When he recognises Bond in the room, he leers: “I see you! Cuckoo!” – a French expression which in fact is to have a darker significance, revealed at the end.”

“It’s deeply silly but uproariously entertaining. At the end, I almost felt guilty for enjoying it all quite so much – almost.”

“Sam Mendes’ second consecutive Bond outing again passes its physical with flying colors: Ricocheting from London to Rome to Morocco across action sequences of deliriously daft extravagance, the pic accumulates a veritable Pompeii of mighty, crumbling structures. What’s missing is the unexpected emotional urgency of “Skyfall,” as the film sustains its predecessor’s nostalgia kick with a less sentimental bent. A wealth of iconography — both incidental and integral — from the series’ founding chapters is revived here, making “Spectre” a particular treat for 007 nerds, and a businesslike blast for everyone else.”

“Suffice to say that the unveiling of SPECTRE cues a modern-day rewrite of classic Bond mythos, teasing the audience with wry winks to series-affiliated imagery and gimmickry dating back to the Sean Connery era, from white cats to ejector seats…The film finally hits fifth gear when Waltz’s louche villain emerges from the shadows, though he’s not as eerily vivid or playful an opposing presence as Javier Bardem’s Silva in “Skyfall.” The Austrian actor brings his familiar streak of fruity menace to the role, though like much else in “Spectre,” he’s working to match comforting series archetypes rather than transcend them.”

“If Skyfall, the 23rd film in the Bond franchise, was about making sense of the Bond character in the modern world, finally resetting the clock with that delicious closing scene – Bond, M and Moneypenny restored to the wood-panelled office of old – Spectre, the 24th, is the film that Skyfall made possible. The four-word epigraph that begins the film – “The dead are alive” – reminds you that no film series has been better at raiding its own mausoleum, and throughout Spectre, ghosts of Bond films past come gliding through the film, trailing tingles of nostalgic pleasure in their wake.”

“Much speculation has swirled around the film’s main villain, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), and the particulars of his agenda won’t be mentioned here, but suffice it to say: despite the globe-encircling master plan, this time, it’s truly personal. Waltz occasionally dices with camp, but mostly underplays what’s essentially a ridiculous role, deploying a blank serenity that’s truly chilling in key scenes, including his first appearance in the Spectre boardroom, silhouetted against a column of golden light. Craig, meanwhile, captains Bond into a majestically craggy middle age, bringing a mature, clenched physicality to the chase and combat scenes, and even allowing himself the odd crumpled smirk after a deadpan quip.”

“With a running time of 148 minutes, Spectre trumps Casino Royale to become the longest Bond flick ever — not that you’d know it. Dashing, deadly and quite possibly deranged, this is the Bond of old — a thug in a tuxedo who, like a laser-guided missile, has but one purpose — to utterly destroy his target.”

“In a helicopter spinning out of control above a packed city plaza, James Bond faces the fight of his life. As the chopper barrel rolls and loops the loop over thousands of terrified people, Bond manages to fight off his foe, knock out the pilot and take control just seconds from disaster. It’s stirring, soul-shaking stuff — and these are just the first 15 minutes of Spectre, the 24th Bond movie and an adventure right up there with the superspy’s very best adventures.”

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“How do you trump the most successful British film in history? That’s the challenge facing the new Bond movie, Spectre, which received its first screening in London. Thankfully, as an action movie, Spectre is every bit the equal of its predecessor, Skyfall. For at least half its running time, this is as good as Bond gets – a rip-roaring and very stylishly made thriller with tremendous production values.”

“Bond is described as being like “a kite in a hurricane,” a description which cutely sums up the cinematic mayhem that Mendes unleashes. The only disappointment in what is an exhilarating movie is the surprisingly clumsy and sentimental way in which the film ends.”

While most of the reviews out thus far continue in that incredibly positive light, not every single person feels the same way about every single movie. And this appears to be the case over on IndieWire, which has produced the only (for now) really negative review thus far. And even then, “negative” is all relative.

“There were still complaints that Sam Mendes’ ‘Skyfall’ didn’t quite feel like Bond in places, so it would be nice to report that his second movie in the franchise, ‘Spectre,’ will please both the hardcore and the more casual fan. Unfortunately, the new film, the 24th in the long-running series, feels more like a successor to ‘Quantum of Solace,’ or to one of the ropier Roger Moore films, than to its Oscar-winning predecessor.”

“”Spectre” feels like it’s going over old ground in uninspiring ways, and that train fight aside, none of the action feels particularly engaging, particularly when put against the opening sequence of “Skyfall.” Much of the same team is in place, and the budget’s even bigger, but a car chase in Rome feels empty and linear, the Alpine sequence is a bunch of stunts in search of some momentum to tie it together, and the big opening helicopter stunt is botched by some awful green-screen and baffling editing choices (if you’re making your chopper do corkscrews in mid-air, don’t cut away just as it flips).”

“But the massive, movie-breaking problem? Story. Plot holes might be forgivable in a Bond movie (even ones of the gaping, you-could-drive-a-truck-through-it size we get here), but they stand out more when you’re mistaking mystery for actual story, with Bond on a quest that jumps from set piece to set piece rather than building up to something more compelling.”

“…While press has been asked to keep the film’s surprises under wraps ahead of release, the biggest surprise to me, was that there weren’t any. In general, this feels like a film patched together out of endless hastily-drafted script rewrites rather than a cohesive vision.”

Even despite that less-than-enthusiastic final piece, I think it’s safe to say that that the next month is going to be crazy long as we wait for Spectre to finally hit our shores. And to make the time feel even more torturous, here’s a new TV spot for the film that shows off some of that celebrated action.

Read  Christoph Waltz won't be returning for next Bond film

Spectre is scheduled for release locally on November 27, 2015. Bookings are already open, so go grab your tickets now!

Last Updated: October 23, 2015

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

  • This makes me so happy!

    • CypherGate

      Same here! Im Soooooooo looking forward to this!

  • Rock789

    So it’s terrible then? 😉 :p
    SO psyched for this!!!! And coming out on my bday here in SA? Winning!!!!

  • Glenn Runnalls

    I am seriously upset that South Africa is the last or 2nd last territory to get SPECTRE. This happened with Skyfall as well!!
    I’m seriously considering not going to cinemas to watch this. Not that the producers or anyone else cares.

    In today’s modern, digital world there is NO reason to stagger release dates. It should open day & date worldwide.

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