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Review: ‘Spectre’ (Not Skyfall) Is James Bond At His Best

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Spectre poster twoI took a second look at the new James Bond feature Spectre on Monday night to make sure what I had experienced in my first viewing was correct. It turns out that I was right. The new Bond film is the best in the series, going all the way back to 1962, when the franchise started with the smart, impeccably dressed Sean Connery, who remains to this day the unbeatable Bond.

Certainly, much of the reason that Spectre with Daniel Craig in the lead role has bested the super-spy’s best days from the 1960s has to do with the benefits of modern production standards. Some of Bond’s dry wit from Dr. No, Goldfinger and other gems doesn’t always hold up very well, either. Nevertheless, it has not been since Thunderball (1965), From Russia With Love (1964) and Goldfinger (1964) that Bond has has had such a grand, sweeping story line to attend to.

Let’s get real: Skyfall probably should not have been a Bond film in the first place. It was about stopping a disgruntled former employee who was going postal. In the end, a huge stone house blows up. The explosion is huge, but whoever heard of a stone house blowing up – with, what, five minutes of gas leaking to set it off?

Bond is supposed to be a spy, not a cop or a vigilante and in Skyfall the mystery just wasn’t there. In Skyfall, the villain Silva, played by Javiar Bardem, was found in about 15 minutes. After that, it was just police work. Yes, Silva is the most memorable Bond villain in decades, but I still haven’t figured out how he went from being a captured and tortured British agent to having an army of minions, given his grand scheme is simply to get back at his old boss.

Suffice it to say, one of the requirements of being a Bond villain is you have to be seeking world dominance. Getting back at your old boss just doesn’t cut it.

In contrast, Spectre is epic espionage right up to the point that British intelligence has been infiltrated up to the highest level. Yes, it’s beyond hokey to have Franz Oberhauser (aka Ernst Stavro Blofeld), the head of Spectre, played wonderfully by Christoph Waltz, turn out to be the son of the man who took in young James Bond, when his parents died. But that does portray Blofeld as someone with a lifelong grudge, given he faked his own death as a teenager. (That’s pretty much when masterminds of mayhem go bad, I guess. If you don’t start young, it’s hard to rise to the ranks of evil genius until you’re too old to enjoy it.)

Skyfall established Bond as an orphan, so now we’re stuck with making sure every move he makes fits in with someone with a shattered childhood. Too bad. I just liked him as an impeccably

Sean Connery in Goldfinger (1965)

Sean Connery in Goldfinger (1965)

dressed spy. Now he’s billed as an assassin and an alcoholic with anti-social tendencies. He’s vulnerable now for psycho-social reasons, but I liked him better when he was simply invisible.

Spectre, for the most part, overcomes Daniel Craig‘s shortcomings as the current Bond. Just for a start, Craig is not particularly dashing or elegant and Bond’s famous wit with Craig just comes across like an acerbic teenager. He’s supposed to outsmart the bad guys, but Craig just seems like he’s biggest asset is his determination. Sean Connery was detached, where Craig takes things personally. He also seems to grope and slobber on his many female conquests, rather than caress and please them. He’s supposed to be worldly, not a freshman who feels lucky he’s about to get laid.

It is Spectre’s plot, the ever-changing scenery and the rest of the cast that are truly magnificent. Dr. Madeleine Swann played by Lea Seydoux is the best Bond babe ever. She’s smart, modern, level-headed and wonderfully coquettish when she needs to be. Ralph Fiennes does well replacing Judi Dench as M (I always thought she was wrong for the part, anyway; you wouldn’t cast Angela Lansbury as the head of the CIA, would you?) Ben Whishaw is terrific as quartermaster Q and Naomie Harris is outstanding as Eve Moneypenny.

Spectre might be what David Lean would have done with a Bond assignment. It’s tense, sweeping, grand and does Ian Flemming proud. I give it four stars plus. And, just to say so, Rotten Tomatoes has it all wrong. Time, I guarantee it, will be very kind to this film.

Rating: 5 Stars

Contributor: Anthony Hall


Box Office

“Ralph” and “Grinch” Steal Slow Box Office Weekend

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Aside from the re-release of Schindler’s List, there is nothing new in the box office for the weekend. Seriously, there’s nothing. And I thought last weekend was slow. With no new films in the running, it’s pretty much a repeat as the box office takes a snow day.

Once again, no surprise, Ralph Breaks The Internet is still on top. In its third weekend, the animated Disney adventure grossed $16 million for the weekend and $140 million for its domestic total. It still has a ways to go to top its $175 million but it should be closing in soon. Also no surprise following closely behind is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the computer-animated holiday comedy based on the book by Dr. Seuss. After five weekends, it’s still in the top 5, making another $15 million for the weekend and $223 million domestic total. Worth noting is that, despite this weekend being slow, the movie only took a 15% dip from last weekend. And you can bet it’ll be sticking around for the rest of December.

As for everything else, very few films moved from their spots with one exception. Green Book, the historical racial drama, is picking up steam and has moved up from #10 last weekend to #7 after being added to more than 100 more theaters. Good word of mouth is getting around about this film as its domestic total is now sitting at $19 million for being in less than 2,000 theaters after four weekends.

Check out the full box office results below:
Ralph Breaks The Internet ($16,141,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($15,175,000)
Creed II ($10,322,515)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($6,805,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($6,000,000)
Instant Family ($5,600,000)
The Possession of Hannah Grace ($3,935,000)
Robin Hood ($3,585,000)
Widows ($3,175,000)
Green Book ($3,100,000)

Next weekend, the break is over and genre movies will be in full swing. Mortal Engines, a CGI-heavy fantasy, will debut in 3,000 theaters. The Mule, a new drug-related drama directed and starring Clint Eastwood, will premiere in 2,400 theaters. And Sony’s new animated superhero film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, will be hitting 3,400 theaters. It’s a pretty much a sure bet that Spider-Man will take that weekend, given its PG-rated superhero appeal and the big word-of-mouth it’s getting from critic circles.


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“Ralph” Reigns Again on Slow Box Office Weekend

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We’re currently in the eye of the fall movie storm. All is fairly quiet this weekend. The only new release was that of a small horror film, The Possession of Hannah Grace. So small, in fact, that it only came in at #7 for the weekend with a gross of $6.5 million. As such, few films moved very far from their spots. Last weekend’s winner, the animated adventure Ralph Breaks The Internet, was once again on top, even though it wasn’t a very strong second weekend of $25 million, a 54% drop. Still, the film has made $119 million so far and is well on its way to covering its $175 million budget.

Surprisingly jumping up a spot is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the latest animated film Illumination Studios based on the classic Christmas book. The film jumped up from #3 to #2, making $17 million with the domestic gross now up to $203 million. Creed II, the sequel to the Rocky spinoff, took a step down for its second weekend, grossing $16 million with a domestic total of $81 million. It’s no surprise that the biggest drop of the weekend was Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the sequel to the Harry Potter spinoff. Due to low critic ratings and poor fan reactions, the film tumbled 61% with its domestic gross sitting at $134 million.

Ivo Nandi stars as Moscow Referee and Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago in CREED II,
a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures film.
Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

View the full top 10 box office winner for the weekend below.

Ralph Breaks The Internet ($25,756,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($17,730,000)
Creed II ($16,832,863)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($11,200,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($8,100,000)
Instant Family ($7,150,000)
The Possession of Hannah Grace ($6,500,000)
Robin Hood ($4,700,000)
Widows ($4,400,000)
Green Book ($3,900,000)

Next weekend is so sparse with new content that the biggest release is going to be an anniversary screening of Schindler’s List, hitting 1,000 screens. It’s a good time to take in some smaller releases as Mary Queen of Scots, Ben is Back, and Vox Lux will be having limited releases. So it’s safe to expect a repeat of this weekend’s trends in the box office.


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“Ralph” Breaks The Box Office, “Creed” Close Behind

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Thanksgiving week is a time for family and there were plenty out to the theater last week for an animated family picture. Ralph Breaks The Internet, the Disney-animated sequel to 2012’s video game adventure comedy Wreck-It Ralph, came in at #1 for the weekend with $55 million and $84 million since its debut on Wednesday. This puts it above the Disney studio’s previous Thanksgiving hit Moana, which had a 5-day total of $82 million.

Not too far behind is Creed II, the sequel to the Rocky spin-off starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. The boxing sequel took in $35 million for the weekend and $55 million since Wednesday. This is a stronger opening than the first film which came in at $29 million for the weekend.

And it was slim leftovers for the two other debuts. Robin Hood, the latest action remake of the classic tale, came in at #7 with only $9 million for the weekend, $14 million since Wednesday. Green Book, a drama about a black singer in the racist south of America, came in at #9 for its expanded week to make $5 million for the weekend and $7 million for its domestic total.

The Crimes of Grindelwald is not fairing to well for its second weekend. The Harry Potter spin-off has dropped to #4 with a domestic weekend gross of $30 million, a 52% drop. The film still hasn’t cleared its $200 million budget with a domestic gross of $117 million and it looks like it may never cross that mark as we head into December with more genre titles. Beating it out for #3 is Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the theatrically animated adaptation by Illumination, that is proving to have great legs coming into the holiday season. Worth noting at #10 is A Star Is Born, its domestic total now having crossed $191 million to make it one of the most profitable films of the year.

View the full top 10 box office results for the weekend below:

Ralph Breaks The Internet ($55,672,000)
Creed II ($35,293,000)
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch ($30,210,000)
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ($29,650,000)
Bohemian Rhapsody ($13,855,000)
Instant Family ($12,500,000)
Robin Hood ($9,125,000)
Widows ($7,955,000)
Green Book ($5,443,000)
A Star is Born ($3,005,000)

Next weekend is, well, it’s pretty dead. So dead that a ghost movie is occupying the rather blank spot. Possession of Hannah Grace, a modest horror production, will be arriving in under 2,000 theaters. So it’s fair to say you can expect Ralph to breakthrough for another weekend of success.


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