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Did anyone watch the latest James Bond film, SPECTRE, back when it was released?
I didn't, of course. I haven't watched an actual movie in a real theatre since... oh, probably 13 Hours, back in January 2016. And that is because I have simply gotten fed up of seeing Hollyweird attempting to shove cultural Marxist bullshit down my throat when I'm paying $15 for a ticket to see their latest dreck.
I "cut the cable" several years ago, and I've never looked back. I get to choose what I want to watch- such as, say, binge-watching TOP GEAR for weeks on end, Series 2-17 all the way through (and of course cursing the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation for cutting out all of the funniest bits of the earlier series).
So nowadays, if I want to watch "mainstream" Hollyweird movies, I'm generally content to wait until they hit Amazon Prime or Netflix (which can take a while), or the Xbox streaming service.
In the case of SPECTRE, though, I shouldn't have bothered with the wait. It is one of the absolute worst action films that I have ever seen.
A chap with rather more time on his hands than I do decided to have a go at analysing exactly why it was so bad, and in the process made a rather good series of points about the less than brilliant results of the "grim n' gritty" direction taken by the current generation of Bond films:
I must have started watching SPECTRE back in February or so. I still have not managed to watch it all the way through. It is simply too stupid, too dull, and too lame.
In the opening sequence, you get to see James Bond fall off the edge of an exploding building, and instead of falling to his death and breaking every single bone in his body, he falls and lands on... a couch.
Then you get to watch him chase an SUV with a plane, and when the wings get torn off that plane in one of the most absurdly idiotic stunts ever captured on film, instead of dying in a truly HORRENDOUS crash, he simply smashes into the SUV, driven by the criminally underused Dave Bautista, rescues the girl, and walks off.
I didn't get to the bit where Bond gets captured and tortured and then escapes by shooting everyone in sight to death with such ease that he looks like Master Chief mowing down a hundred Grunts (when playing HALO: CE on Easy), but I have to say, the clips of that sequence are downright stupid.
See, the point of a good action movie is to allow you to suspend your sense of disbelief. Even the most ridiculously over-the-top 80s action films- think Ahhhhnullld in Commando, Sly in Cobra, Chuck Norris in Delta Force (ah, fond memories of that one...)- were fun to watch because you could actually sort of believe in the bullshit on the screen. The action was silly and stupid and OTT, yes, but there was also an element of fun to the wackiness that kind of made up for the deficiencies in plot and character.
The latest Bond films have none of these things. I have to admit, I actually rather liked Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, but I found Skyfall to be more than a little naff. And the latest film in the series is just... awful.
If this is the way that the Bond series is going to carry on for future installments, count me out. I'm done watching this asshattery.
That being said, the review above makes a very good point about the difference between SPECTRE and The Dark Knight. They both used many of the same ideas and techniques, but the first movie sucked while the second one was mind-blowing.
The comparisons with The Dark Knight are particularly apt because that is, quite simply, one of the best films that I have ever seen. And on paper, it shouldn't have been.
You see, I grew up watching the ridiculously campy and cheesy old 1960s Batman TV show- yeah, the one starring Adam West. So my childhood memories of live-action Batman are full of the ZAP! BIFF!! POW!!! nonsense that made for such compelling children's TV back in the day.
However, I also had the very great good fortune to grow up watching the much darker, and brilliantly written, Batman: The Animated Series cartoons, with the one and only Kevin Conroy as the voice of the goddamn Batman.
That cartoon series is quite simply the finest depiction of the Dark Knight ever captured on film. Even the Nolan films don't hold up to that animated series in terms of their fidelity to the darkness of Batman's character, and of the way that he walks the edge of the abyss between heroism and criminality.
The thing is, the "grim n' gritty" thing doesn't work well for most fictional characters other than, say, Batman and The Punisher. In a Bond film, it generally doesn't work- especially in a film like SPECTRE where they tried to bring back some of the campiness of the older Bond films, in the form of an absurdly well-equipped car (and a proportionally absurd car chase), and various quips and puns that the earlier films in the series thankfully did away with.
Put simply, you can't really mix camp with grit. The few exceptions to this rule, like Punisher: War Zone succeed in doing so because they don't take themselves overly seriously. But Bond films these days take themselves way too seriously- and as a result, are hopelessly dull.