James Bond is back in “Spectre,” looking to build on the success of “Skyfall” – one of the best entries in the now 24-film series – with Daniel Craig back as Bond and Sam Mendes back in the directing chair.
The latest installment doesn’t quite capture the success of its predecessor, but it is still a solid entry in the franchise.
“Spectre” finds Bond infiltrating a secret meeting and uncovering the existence of the sinister organization with a link to his past – a ruthless criminal named Franz (Christoph Waltz).
While Bond is off on his rogue mission, the very existence of MI6 is put in jeopardy when the new head of security, C (Andrew Scott), unveils plans to modernize the spy game, with technology replacing human footwork.
As Bond gets closer to finding Franz and discovering more about his past, he begins to learn that perhaps there are links to the organization – SPECTRE – and the modernization of MI6.
“Spectre” begins with a fantastic sequence in Mexico and has several other action high points sprinkled throughout. Mendes knows how to frame these sequences well, and he gives the film the same look as “Skyfall,” one of the film’s biggest strengths.
Craig has really grown into the character. It’s too bad recent interviews suggest Craig has grown tired of the franchise and is ready to move on. This does feel like Craig’s final stand as Bond – the way the stories tie together suggests it resets the franchise in the next film.
Waltz proves to be a worthy adversary, although I feel like he is underutilized here.
I also like how the script plays with some of Bond’s mythology, building to an intriguing twist. It’s a moment that is sure to divide the fan base somewhat.
“Spectre” starts to run out of steam late, with the rousing start long a memory by the time the final scene arrives. Still, there is enough here to keep Bond fans satisfied – even if it doesn’t transcend the series quite like “Skyfall” did.
Also in theaters
Another piece of pop culture also arrived in theaters with “The Peanuts Movie” (B-), a revival of the popular Charles M. Schulz comic strip that manages to bring something for the entire family. It’s a sweet story that also serves as a bit of nostalgia for the parents.
“The Peanuts Movie” finds Charlie Brown looking to impress the new girl in class by showing that he can be heroic. Meanwhile, Charlie’s dog Snoopy embarks on a mission of his own – to save the damsel in distress, Fifi, from the Red Baron.
For fans of the comic, it is kind of fun to see the whole gang back with each having signature moments.
The story is simple and direct, a perfect introduction for the young audience “The Peanuts Movie” is clearly aimed for.
Director Steve Martino doesn’t try too much to modernize “The Peanuts Movie,” making the wise decision to keep it grounded in the simplistic fun that has kept the TV specials in constant rotation during holiday seasons.
This is a fun throwback to what made the original comic strip and all its incarnations so charming, a film that is sure to make even the most jaded audience member smile. It’s a nice reboot for the franchise.
Welcome back Charlie Brown.
“The Peanuts Movie” is rated G and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.