Spectre (2015) Film Review

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James Bond (Daniel Craig) is off around the world, against agency orders following some interesting leads. M (Ralph Fiennes) is not happy. Especially because there is a new group coming in, headed by C (Andrew Scott) who wants to put the 00 program to bed. Then there’s the bad guy, who’s name I’m not going to give because that alone is a bit of a spoiler alert, but he’s played by Christoph Waltz yet again doing a magnificent job as a bad guy. And there’s a lot of plot and action and the like.

And it is awesome. I was the only James Bond watcher in the world who didn’t like Skyfall (or so it seems), so I was glad to enjoy this. Bond films have a wonderful reputation for magnificent opening sequences, and this is no exception. Worth seeing for it alone!


The Golden Compass vs The Golden Compass


The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

This, the first of the His Dark Materials trilogy, tells the adventurous story of Lyra, a young girl who has grown up an orphan being raised at Oxford College in a previous era. Only, it’s not – it’s a different world, a world with polar bears who wear armour and fight, with witches and where every human has a daemon – an animal representation of their soul that is spiritually joined to them and has various roles in their lives. Until one hits puberty, their daemon changes depending on the situation, but after puberty it is fixed. In Lyra’s world, children are disappearing and there are all kind of rumours. When Lyra starts investigating, she finds out more about her world and the outside world than she could imagine – including about her uncle Lord Asriel and the mysterious Mrs Coulter.

I quite liked Lyra and the depictions of the characters, but I found that as soon as problems were raised, they seemed to be solved; things just seemed to be quite convenient. I also struggled with the way he wrote the dialogue, representing Lyra’s accent – it really annoyed me. I think possibly because I didn’t feel this was how Lyra spoke, so it felt wrong. Still, despite the things I disliked about the book, I am keen on reading more, and I intend to read the next two books.


The Golden Compass (2007) Film Review

I’m glad I’d read the book before I saw the film, because I suspect that I would not have had such an easy time following it otherwise. There is just so any elements to the story, and the book gives it time to tell the story, but the film rushes through it all. Like the book, I found the dialogue for Lyra and some of the others quite jilting.

It was a beautiful film, although some of the effects already look quite dated. Nicole Kidman was perfect for Mrs Coulter – she conveys coldness very well. It seems at this stage that there is not going to be further film adaptations made.

The Golden Compass won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and was nominated for Best Achievement in Art Direction.


The Adventures of Tintin (2011) Film Review


As a little kid, I loved reading Asterix comics. I know, I know, that’s not Tintin, but they always looked kinda similar – same size and shape, kind of. Yes, I do judge a book by its cover. That’s just me, I’m afraid. When I attempted the Tintin comics, I didn’t really get them. There wasn’t much humour and I wasn’t really interested in the whole mystery aspect. I tried again a few years later and I enjoyed them a lot more – still not as much, but I liked them.

I was pretty concerned when I heard that there was going to be a live action motion capture animation film. Was it going to look as crap as that Tom Hanks Christmas film many years ago? I still haven’t seen that one – Polar Express, I believe. I just couldn’t get over that scary face from the trailer. I still have nightmares.

As it happens, Tintin is the absolutely perfect film for this technology.

Herge creates beautiful characters in his books, often with slightly enlarged features, and live capture animation allows these characters to come alive. If you are familiar with the comics, you will share my delight in seeing these characters brought to life – whether it is the sailors or the absolutely wonderful Captain Haddock.

I find it quite hard to critique the acting in the film as the animation dominates the appearance of the actors, and so I found myself relying on the voice to convey the character. Certainly, Andy Serkis portrayed a marvelous Haddock, and Nick Frost and Simon Pegg gave Thompson and Thomson voices exactly as I’d always wanted to hear them, but how much of the credit of their performances should be attributed to the animators? It’s an interesting thought.

Recently, Tintin won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Film, and it was deserving of this accolade. The animation is wonderful, and the story is well created, taking elements from several of the books. It is filled with action and humour and after a first watching, I was more than happy to go again with my nephew. The second watching was even better – oh, and I’d recommend a big screen, go for 3D and sit right at the back. It’s worth it.

The Adventures of Tintin was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (John Williams)


Quantum of Solace (2008) Film Review


James Bond (Daniel Craig) is seeking revenge for the death of a lady friend of his, and M (Judi Dench) is not happy about that, but she wants to job to be done. Bond pairs with sexy Camille (Olda Kurylenko) to take down Dominic Greene (Mathiew Amaric).

Watching this, I realised that I’m not a fan of Daniel Craig as Bond. I know, in reviewing Skyfall, I mentioned the lack of sparkle in his eyes and I thought it was part of the film, but even in this, he seems cool and detached. But not in that good way of other Bonds. This film had all of those good running, chasing, blowing up scenes. The huge hotel/desert stuff at the end was totally magnificent. But still…



Cowboys and Aliens (2011) Film Review

Cowboys and Aliens 5

It’s the Wild West, back in the 1800s. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) has woken with no memory and a strange iron bracelet on his arm. Arriving in a small town, Jake comes across Percy  (Paul Dano), the drunk son of rich landowner Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) tormenting the town. But, their dispute takes a back seat when aliens appear, kidnapping townsmen and exploding a lot of stuff.  Together, Lonergan, Dolarhyde, the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown) and barman Doc (Sam Rockwell) take off to save not only their family members, but the world.

There is a lot of running and explosives, some pretty serious alien action, intense gazes just off camera and the odd cheesy line. What more could you want from an action movie? For me, not a lot. Plus, Harrison Ford – its been a while since I’ve seen him doing anything that’s been that great. Well, that’s not strictly true – I didn’t mind Morning Glory. But to get him at his action hero best – it’s nice to see.

Skyfall (2012) Film Review


James Bond is James Bond is James Bond. What new is there to be said about it? He’s charismatic and charming. There’s a bad guy who is seemingly unstoppable. There are a lot of explosions and (spoiler alert) Bond eventually comes out on top.

I was really disappointed by this film. I’m not sure why; it was everything it was supposed to be. But it did very little for me.

As I was watching something else explode (and I do love seeing things exploding onscreen. I don’t think I’ve seen anything explode for real. I’d probably like that too) I was trying to nut out what it was. Daniel Craig wasn’t doing it for me. Instead of having that cheeky twinkle in the eye that Bond is supposed to have, his eyes just seemed dull and dead.

As for the plot, if you’ve seen a trailer, you know that Bond is shot early on and believed to be dead. Of course, this is a Bond film, so we know he’s not. But it still would have been nice for the suspense to have been drawn out somewhat more, rather than him reappearing so soon.

Plus, all I’ve heard about this film is how amazing Javier Bardem is as the bad guy, but even that didn’t work for me. Everything felt really by the book and flat. Ah well, soon there will be another Hollywood action film that will blow me away.

Roger Deakins was nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography and was nominated for a BAFTA for Cinematography

Thomas Newman was nominated for an Oscar for Music (Original Score) and won the BAFTA for Original Music

‘Skyfall’ was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song and won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Skyfall won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film

Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers were nominated for an Oscar for Sound Editing

Scott Millan, Greg p. Russell and Stuart Wilson were nominated for an Oscar for Sound Mixing

Scott Millan, Greg p. Russell and Stuart Wilson, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers were nominated for a BAFTA for Sound

Javier Bardem was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actor

Judi Dench was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actress

Stuart Baird was nominated for a BAFTA for Editing

Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock were nominated for a BAFTA for Production Design