Bond 24 – SPECTRE

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It only seems like yesterday when we saw Skyfall, at the local Odeon, but in fact it was October 28th, 2012 – THREE years ago! Skyfall was considered to be a critical and commercial success, so this latest in the franchise was going to be a difficult film to get right. Sensibly, they’d hired back Sam Mendes to direct it, although he and Craig have strongly hinted they won’t be doing another!

I think the whole of Kettering must have planned to see it this week – its opening week in the UK (USA gets it next week) and it was therefore difficult to get the required number of pre-booked tickets. But I guess with six of us going (Jo, Janet, Carol, Ann Lee and me) and all preferring to sit together, that made it an extra challenge!

Given the price of cinema tickets these days, I realised I’d also built-up enough Odeon points to get me ONE free ticket, so that took the sting out of the total price.

We arrived on time and joined most of the town in Screen 8 (it was showing at three screens every 30 minutes). With the obligatory adverts lasting a good 30 minutes, we passed the time listening to the sound of Kettering in conversation and enjoying its gourmet meals of hot-dogs and popcorn – sometimes at the same time!!

7.45pm and curtain up, conversations killed, and phones off (well mostly, apart from the b******* in row F, who got some formative feedback from the guy sitting behind him later in the film (just as Bond was getting throttled on the train!).

So, with so much riding on this film, was it any good? Well, yes it was, VERY very good in my opinion (with one caveat, see later), and it was certainly long – I think it’s the longest Bond film so far, at 148 minutes. The days are long gone when the excitement starts with the film itself, and the downloadable single by Sam Smith had been released a week before, followed shortly after on CD (remember those!) by an identical vocal version with an accompanying orchestral variant (kerrrching!) that actually turned out NOT to be an orchestral version in the true sense, but the original vocal version with the vocals turned down a lot – if you have a good pair of ears, you can just hear SS grabbing his balls to hit the high notes in the background! However, over the days, the tune grew on me, and after the jaw-dropping pre-credit opener, when I heard it for real, it seemed just perfect. And when you see the film yourself, you’ll realise why the song has THAT title.

Sam Smith

Back to the story… Bond films are less about coherent plot and more about lavish set pieces, and this had it in spades. Large public gatherings, Cars chases, fights on a train, bad-guy’s lair in the middle of nowhere, damsels in distress, damsels (briefly) in a dress – and just plenty of Bond being err, Bond. There were nods to previous Bond films, some subtle, some less-so. All-in-all, with film franchises like Bourne, stealing the crown for set action pieces, SPECTRE holds its own very well and the special effects are simply jaw-dropping (the positioning of new Security Building in central London and the destruction of Thames House for example). At the end, I think we all felt exhausted… in a good way! 

Warning: Petrolhead alert…

There are two main automotive stars: the Aston Martin DB10 (above) and the Jaguar C-X75 (below). The former was limited to a run of just 10 and although they said they wouldn’t be made available to the public, I know understand that one is to be auctioned off. The Jaguar is perhaps more significant in that it started life as a hybrid concept. A 1.6-litre turbocharged and supercharged 4-cyl, 500bhp @ 9700rpm, 277lb ft @ 3000-7000rpm, plus twin 195bhp/295lb ft electric motors and 19kWh lithium-ion battery pack delivering 900bhp (almost twice as much as my XKR) – and yours for a cool £10m!

In the end though, it wasN’T James Bond that sealed the fate of the Jaguar – it was the global economy – and in December 2012, Jaguar cancelled the project.

Get off the car Naomie, I can’t see the interior!

Probably my only criticism, in these days of equality, is that the female stars were all a bit under-used. Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux and Naomie Harris all had important roles but we just didn’t see much of them. The only ‘news’ that was being touted in the media was that Monica Bellucci  is the ‘oldest Bond girl ever’ (at 50!) – is that really ‘news’? Perhaps more significantly, I was certainly expecting a larger part for Moneypenny given her significance in the previous film – certainly Mr Bond’s larger part didn’t get much of an outing with her either – and I think some might have been expecting that!

Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux and Naomie Harris

Already, records are being smashed with regard to box-office takings. Skyfall may have set a new record of £1.1 billion of global sales in 2012, but there are strong suggestions that SPECTRE might outdo its predecessor. Previews on Monday took £4.1 million, while Tuesday showings on 600 plus screens across the UK made £6.3m. That represents the biggest Tuesday takings EVER for a movie in the UK, and tops the £6.2m made by predecessor Skyfall on its Friday opening. Wednesday grabbed £5.75m from our coffers – again a UK record for that particular day. Wow! Impressive stuff! There is more up-to-date information about the box-office takings HERE.

Certainly, this film is worth seeing. ‘Shaken not stirred’ doesn’t only describe Bond’s fave cocktail, and looking at the faces of my fellow Ketteringites as the lights came up, it seemed that the whole audience had enjoyed this film too. Rumours abound that it may be Daniel Craig’s last outing at the iconic secret agent, and having now seen him in all his Bond incarnations, I feel he now really IS James Bond, and I can’t see anyone else playing him (but I’m sure I said the same about his predecessors too!).

Ann and I may not be able to afford the Bond cars, but at least we get the cat!!!

Bon-Bon, we’ve been expecting you!

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