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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

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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