When it comes to family outings to the movies, my family has varying degrees of success. Of the movies we do agree on, Star Wars probably tops the list, but unfortunately that trip to the theater must wait until next month. Another franchise my family enjoys watching, though, is James Bond movies. I have not seen many of the older ones, but the more recent ones have been fun to watch together as they come out. This weekend we went to see Spectre, which I was looking forward to for a while, and I was pleased to find it so entertaining that I did not realize it was two and a half hours long until we had left and I noticed what time it was.
Although I am not by any means a diehard fan who has seen all the films and knows all the references, there are some things that even I have come to expect from a James Bond film. The hero Bond must be pitted against some seemingly unbeatable enemy yet find a way to defeat him anyway, becoming romantically involved with a beautiful woman in the process. He typically ends up doing something he has been ordered not to, much to the frustration of the team back at MI6. There are life-threatening situations, chase scenes, explosions, and confrontation. There are gadgets that will come into play and save his life when nothing else will. Spectre involved all of these factors and many others, making it a successful Bond film in that aspect alone. But there were other things that I enjoyed about it as well, besides the classic structure of the plot.
The opening sequence in Mexico City was actually my favorite part of the film, not just because of the incredible action sequence that was a part of it, but because of the beautiful way in which the whole thing was shot. The costumes created for the people crowding the streets on the Day of the Dead were stunning, and the colors used for the film complemented the costumes perfectly. The camera angles that were used made everything feel real and in the moment as the characters were seen walking through the mass of people. At the same time, sweeping wide shots made it dramatic. What struck me especially in the beginning of the film was the use of long, continuous takes that followed Bond as he carried out the mission that would set in motion the events of the rest of the movie.
I went to the theater to forget about everything for a few hours and watch some car chases and explosions, which is exactly what I got. The character interactions and set locations were wonderful, although the whole thing felt somewhat less personal and nostalgic than the previous film Skyfall did. The way Skyfall made use of the technological gadgets, or lack thereof, also seemed more clever than what was done in Spectre. To balance that, though, the physical fight scenes in Spectre I thought were great, shot extremely up close to make it even more gritty and intense. Overall I enjoyed it, and especially thought that the ending was quite well done in terms of finishing off the film in a satisfying way.