Craig's Moore-era closure.
For good and bad, Mendes finally reaches his endgame: a symbiotic blend of classic Moore-era hijinks and Craig-era seriousness.At times struggling to blend the old with the new quite as effectively as its predecessors, the purported conclusion to the Craig run of mature Bond entries is nevertheless another well-engineered epic ride. It's again peppered with past-era nods, only this time with more focus on the Moore reign. The opening ‘single-take’ sequence – perhaps the most breathtakingly shot of the entire movie; maybe even the franchise – nods to both Live and Let Die and the Mardi Gras sequence in Moonraker, but soon becomes more of a CG spectacle than it ever needed to be, before thundering into a painfully reckless, but nonetheless engaging, bit of helicopter stuntwork echoing a little For Your Eyes Only. Unfortunately it all, slowly, goes downhill from there, with bland ‘surveillance tech conspiracy’ underplotting, a tawdry cruise of a car chase (with NO threat), an underwhelming villain, and an inexplicable choice of Lea Seydoux (who could have cracked “you’re old enough to be my dad” jokes) over Monica Bellucci (who is implausible as a gullible throwaway lover) which undermines the entire finale.Indeed, lacking the emotional heft of its predecessors, SPECTRE is unable to decide whether or not to just embrace the hammy Roger Moore silliness of it all – humour, gadgets, evil lairs, swooning women, hulking henchmen, impossibly elaborate torture/death sequences to escape from – or maintain the credibility that Craig’s entries have fought hard to establish. Worse still, the decision to attempt to thread all of the Craig movies together with some contrived link actually serves to largely undermine them all – not because it wasn’t a good idea, but because of the ultimate motivation of the anticlimactic, big reveal, villain. Yes, even Christoph Waltz is... bland, and petty. It’s a shame – there’s so much that could have worked here, only with different ingredients (a girl more like Eva Green’s Vesper would have given the entire film a defining backbone; a stronger villain with a better purpose would have better brought together Craig’s entire tour), with Craig himself the only one standing proud as the one unfaltering factor; a decisive, defining Bond in an indecisive, indefinite Bond movie.
Picture QualityWhatever your misgivings about the film, it certainly looks spectacular.
SPECTRE's hits UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with a stunning 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Exceptionally lensed on film (by the guy who shot Interstellar), but also heavily tinkered with afterwards (the opening sequence has, for example, been beaten around the head by the sepia stick), thankfully detail remains largely good throughout the entire movie, holding up in the most crowded moments, the gloomiest shadowy meetings, the darkest night sequences, or even the most high contrast snowy Alps and blooming desert whites. There is a more filmic quality to the movie, because it was obviously not a digital endeavour, but this is quite a faithful rendition of what you saw on the big screen. Skin textures are keenly observant, whilst background flourishes bring the international landscapes and settings to life, and clarity pervades with no signs of any digital defects or inherent problems. The colour scheme, however skewed depending on sequence (cool blue/white alps vs. hot desert, or, as aforementioned sepia yellow opening scene), is rendered faithfully here, with strong black levels that remain rich and deep and round out an exemplary video presentation.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is just as impressive.
Although fans were wondering why SPECTRE didn't get any kind of Atmos release, it's not surprising given it was not even released in Atmos theatrically. There shouldn't be too many complaints, however, as for what is still the largest majority, this track will likely prove not just sufficient, but superb. Dialogue is firmly prioritised across the frontal array, remaining clear and coherent throughout, and the swooning score is given room to breathe, whilst effects are given definition by the surrounds, which whip prop planes across your living room, or helicopters spinning out of control around your sofa, and bring building-shaking effects to life with added LFE oomph. Indeed it's probably only the LFE channel which will get any kind of real criticism here, for feeling a little over-committed, and thrumming a little too intensely, particularly further down the line. That said, the opening beat of the day of the dead festival is outstanding, and definitely sets the tone for a superb ride.
Steelbook ExtrasSurprisingly thin on the ground, a 20 minute at the spectacular opening sequence will make you wonder (considering there are no Featurettes on any other sequence in the entire 2.5 hour movie) whether they invested everything in that one opening shot and CG helicopter fight. A bunch of short video blogs appear to make up for the lack of significant other extras, as well as a few Trailers and a Gallery but this is a terribly poor show.
SPECTRE also comes in an alternate Amazon-exclusive Steelbook package.
The UK's Amazon-exclusive steelbook could have been far better than it is, with the day of the dead skull-mask the ideal image for the front or back artwork. Even a monochromatic Bond-next-to-car promo poster shot would have worked better, matching up to Skyfall's similar, iconic, design. Instead they play it safe with an ultimately bland title and bullet-hole/octopus thingy that isn't really going to grab anybody's attention. Embossing? Yes, on the bullet-hole, which is pretty disappointing too when the whole title and 007 logo may have looked special if embossed, with the bullet debossed at the same time. An all-round disappointment, but, much like the movie, only really in comparison to what we could have gotten. Shame they didn't leave room for this disc in the Bond 50 collection.
Steelbook VerdictFor those who have a soft spot for Moore’s colourful jaunts, and who are prepared to let Craig finally have his Bond cake and eat it, there’s plenty of pure entertainment on offer here, and it’s easy to get swept up in the heat of things, when Bond’s tripping across the world from one exotic location to the next in classic style, with plenty of planes, trains and automobiles at his disposal.
Don't scratch beneath the surface, however, as SPECTRE will not stand up to scrutiny, and largely undermines Craig's entire tour.
This Region Free UK Blu-ray release, however, does stand up to scrutiny, and provides spectacular video and audio even if the extras are distinctly lacking. There's even an Amazon Exclusive UK Steelbook, should that take your fancy. Whatever you go for, Bond collectors won't be able to resist completing their collection.
You can buy SPECTRE on Blu-ray here
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