Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Award Shows 2016: What's Yet to Come?

The Globes, Oscars et al. are closing in on us. And while the previous months have already given us a bunch of good movies highly eligible to take home one prestigious statue or the other (I'm basically talking about you, Sicario and Mad Max: Fury Road), there are still some award-bait-y films at the ready which have yet to be released in either or both the UK and the USA. 

So, if you're resident in one of those regions, and you're anxious to know which movies you shouldn't miss in the upcoming weeks in order to take part in a hearty award race discussion, fret no more. Here are the flicks to watch out for:

Director: Ryan Coogler  |  Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone
Release: 25 Nov 2015 (USA)  |  15 Jan 2016 (UK)

Remember when Rocky won best picture at the Oscars in 1977? It outdid Alan J. Pakula's All the President's Men and Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Maybe Creed, a spin-off/sequel to the popular boxing franchise, can become the victorious odd one out this year. With a charismatic Jordan in the lead and Stallone in his far-famed role as Rocky Balboa, who knows what can happen? 

Director: Lenny Abrahamson  |  Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
Release: 25 Nov 2015 (USA)  |  15 Jan 2016 (UK)

This film tells the story of a mother and her five-year-old son who both have been trapped in a single room for the entire span of the boy's life. When the two manage to escape from their confinement, real life awaits them with all its joys and troubles. While it has still to be seen whether the film itself can leave a mark in the race, Brie Larson's raw, powerful performance is most certainly set to turn her into one of the Best Actress top contenders of the year.

Black Mass
Director: Scott Cooper  |  Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, Julianne Nicholson, Juno Temple
Release: 25 Nov 2015 (UK)

Black Mass is a slow, visually appealing crime thriller about real-life gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger that ultimately lacks innovation and a truly gripping story angle. Depp's cold-blooded performance has received some praise, though, and Edgerton will probably not stand a chance in the award race but still delivers an engaging performance as naive FBI agent John Connolly, an eventual accomplice to Bulger's crimes.

Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg  |  Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan
Release: 27 Nov 2015 (UK)

Probably the most Oscar-bait-y film in the competition this year, Steven Spielberg's newest piece features war, moral conflicts and lots of heavy music playing in the background. While the historical aspects of the plot and the talented cast might turn this into an engaging Cold War spy thriller, the trailer makes the whole thing look like a bloated mess of melodramatic proportions. Still, major award juries might take to it, so a Best Picture nomination is actually not out of the question.

Director: Todd Haynes  |  Starring: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Kyle Chandler
Release: 27 Nov 2015 (UK)

Adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, Carol tells the story of a young shop assistant falling head over heels for an older married woman in the New York of the 1950s. Domestic drama is about to unfold in beautifully composed pictures, and the two leading ladies Blanchett and Mara are bound to impress.

The Danish Girl
Diretor: Tom Hooper  |  Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw, Matthias Schoenaerts
Release: 27 Nov 2015 (USA)  |  1 Jan 2016 (UK)

After winning Best Actor for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything last year, Eddie Redmayne is determined to go for the big prize once again. As real-life transgender woman Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery, Redmayne will most certainly stun audiences yet again with another emotional, transformative performance. If the trailer is any indication, Hooper's film will impress with beautiful visuals, interpersonal drama and a wonderful supporting cast led by Alicia Vikander.

The Big Short
Director: Adam McKay  |  Starring: Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei, Selena Gomez, Melissa Leo
Release: 23 Dec 2015 (USA)  |  22 Jan 2016 (UK)

This certainly looks a bit like a tamed version of The Wolf of Wall Street, but it remains to be seen whether The Big Short can really hit it big at the awards. With the Financial Crisis of 2007-2010 at its centre and a promising cast along with it, who knows? The film might win over juries with topicality and star power.

45 Years
Director: Andrew Haigh  |  Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay
Release: 23 Dec 2015 (USA)

Shortly before their 45th wedding anniversary, a man and a woman's life are changed by the arrival of an unexpected letter. British actors Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are both masters of their craft and get to unleash all their talent in this small, yet engaging-looking marital drama. Rampling, especially, has the potential to land a nomination.

Director: David O. Russell  |  Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Elizabeth Röhm, Dascha Polanco, Virginia Madsen, Édgar Ramírez, Isabella Rossellini
Release: 25 Dec 2015 (USA)  |  1 Jan 2016 (UK)

FINALLY another film made by David O. Russell starring Jennifer Lawrence! And if you think I'm being ironic here, I'm not. We already know that Russell knows how to bring out the best in Lawrence, and her take on real-life  business woman/matriarch Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop, by the way, will certainly be a sight to behold. And since award juries love Russell and Lawrence just as much as I do, nominations should be a given. And rightly so. Seeing Lawrence channel her inner Michael Corleone at the end of the trailer makes my heart giddy with, well, joy.

The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino  |  Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum
Release: 8 Jan 2016 (UK & USA)

Tarantino is back, and with a western no less. Big awards seem to have a hard time favouring the unconventional film maker, so we have to wait and see how The Hateful Eight will fare with them. However, it's always good to have him shake up the competition with his fun, engaging mash-up odes to cinema. Maybe someone from the impressive cast can snag a nomination. Jennifer Jason Leigh has some buzz going for her.

The Revenant
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu  |  Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Release: 8 Jan 2016 (USA)  |  15 Jan 2016 (UK)

BSPeeps, I'm happy to announce that Leo has never been closer to winning an Academy Award. Everything is pointing into his direction right now, but I'm not gonna jinx it by saying that he'll definitely win. I'll just sit in my quiet, little corner and cross my fingers for him. Besides, I'm happy to see how well Tom Hardy is doing in the polls. A Best Supporting Actor nomination might be heading his way and, hell, we all know it's about time. Having said all this, I can only add that I'm fully willing to make love to this trailer. The Revenant simply looks Spec.Tac.U.Lar. Epic cinematography -  as we've come to expect from Iñárritu - breathtaking scenery and special effects, and a gut-wretching story about abandonment and revenge. Did I mention that this looks epic? 

Our Brand Is Crisis
Director: David Gordon Green  |  Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida
Release: 22 Jan 2016 (UK)

Our Brand Is Crisis flopped in the USA. Maybe it can score some points with UK audiences. While Bullock certainly makes for a charming lead, Mackie for a likeable anchor and Thornton for a charismatic antagonist, I guess awards buzz is over for this flick. Bad reviews aren't helping either. But, hey, it could still be worth a try.

Director: Tom McCarthy  |  Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci
Release: 29 Jan 2016 (UK)

Unlike Our Brand Is Crisis, Spotlight has gained critical acclaim and seems to be set for a Best Picture nomination (some might even say win). The film about the real-life Boston Globe reporters who investigated multiple cases of child abuse by Roman Catholic priests is an ode to the freedom of press and the power of journalism. Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton have chances in the Best Actor categories.

Director: Peter Landesman  |  Starring: Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stephen Moyer, Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson, Eddie Marsan
Release: 25 Dec 2015 (USA)  |  29 Jan 2016 (UK)

Bennet Omalu is the forensic pathologist who found out that repetetive brain trauma can lead to CTE, a degenerative brain disease. The film follows his struggle with the National Football League which tried to surpress his research on CTE in professional football. While the film has gained mostly average reviews, Will Smith has gained momentum in the lead and could land a Best Actor Nomination for his dedicated portrayal.

Director: Jay Roach  |  Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ellen Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., John Goodman
Release: 5 Feb 2016 (UK)

Dalton Trumbo has written the screenplays for movies such as Roman Holiday, Spartacus and Exodus. But even though he was a celebrated writer, he was also blacklisted and imprisoned during the McCarthy era. This, however, didn't stop him from winning two Academy Awards. In this year's awards race, Bryan Cranston's performance as Trumbo has garnered some attention. Competition is tough, though, but maybe the man who knocks stands a chance. In any case, it's nice to see Michael Stuhlbarg be so present this year. He also stars in Steve Jobs, which came out a few weeks ago.

Alrighty, this is it. Now you should be all set for the upcoming weeks in which we get closer and closer to the finish line of this year's awards race. Which movies are you looking forward to? Which actors and actresses do you think stand a chance to win? Feel free to let us know below.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Manic Monday: Road Trip Monday

© Fox Searchlight Pictures | Source: americaniconstemple

Since our Squuls is still touring through the States and since I’m sure that every single one of us knows what it’s like to spend seemingly endless hours sitting in a car, stuck in traffic or what have you, I had the idea to turn today’s Manic Monday into a Road Trip Monday. I’ve compiled a list of the best songs from TV shows or movies that will brighten your mood and turn your ride into a joyful adventure.

First of all you should get the entire Supernatural Soundtrack, starting with this song here:

Also check out:

Back in Black – ACDC
Highway to Hell – ACDC
Born to Be Wild - Steppenwolf
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor

The same is true for the soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring classics such as Hooked on a Feeling, Spirit in the Sky and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

And I bet not a single fan of How I Met Your Mother can stay still in their car seat or curse every other driver on this planet when this song comes on:

And here good ol’ Dean Winchester shows you the one and only way to chase away the boredom when you are forced to take a longer break. Prepare for pure awesomness!

Out and About: Chasing the Screen in Chicago


At the end of our Chicago-themed week we are getting up close and personal with the city. I visited the Windy City just a week ago and went on a stroll through TV and movie history. While at first thought it is New York and L.A. that come to mind when we think about filming locations, Chicago is actually a very popular spot - on screen and off. The avid watcher that I am, I wanted to see where my favourites were made and went on a location hunt. Below I share some of my Chicago favourites with a screen shot of the actual scene taking place and me doing my best to recreate it:


Without a doubt Emergency Room (1994 - 2009) is one of my favourite shows of all time, so when I got the chance to be in the city where it was set, of course some ER related sightseeing was on my agenda. While the show was mostly shot at the WB Studios in L.A., the cast and crew came out to Chicago for a number of location shots over the years. The fictional County General Hospital was supposed to be an inner city hospital, so a lot of prominent sights in Chicago's "Loop" made it into the show over the years. Also the elevated inner city metro "L" was a prominent feature of the show, where a lot of scenes took place within the 15-year time span of the series. While some locations have slightly changed, you can still see they're the real deal.

© WB | Source: its filmed here


© WB | Source: its filmed here

© WB | Source: its filmed here

Chicago Fire:

Although a more recent addition to my viewing schedule, Chicago Fire immediately captivated me. Human bonds and extensive story lines of catastrophe are what makes the show work, just not in a medical setting like ER, but in a Chicago fire house. They were actually filming the show on location somewhere while I was there, but it was too far out for me to make that journey. So I just had to make due with visiting the original fire house, that actually is the home to the real engine 51 and ambulance 61.




Earlier this year I wrote a review on the Netflix Original Sense8. While the show does have many flaws, it still has a lot of visual appeal. There are impressive scenic shots of the cities where the show was shot at and Chicago features prominently in the first episode, centered on Will Grotzki. Here is one picture from the show's theme of the Jelly Bean.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

Man, haven't we all wanted to take a day off to play hookie like Ferris Bueller? And in a city such as Chicago at that! Well, there are a lot of Chicagoan places featured in Ferris Bueller, but a lot of them are also expensive to get to, so here"s my attempt at recreating the gang entering the Art Institute of Chicago.

© Paramount Pictures | Source:

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Data Base: Chicago Fire (2012 - )

© NBC | Source: stocklandmartelblog
Series PremiereOctober 10, 2012
drama, action, ensemble
Country of OriginUSA
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes75
Running Time42 mins.
Developed byMichael Brandt, Derek Haas
StarringJesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Monica Raymund, Yuri Sardarov, Eamonn Walker, Christian Stolte, Joe Minoso, Randy Flagler, David Eigenberg, Charlie Barnett, Lauren German
Guest Stars Worth MentioningTreat Williams, 


The squad of a Chicago fire station leads dangerous lives. There are difficult decisions to be made every day and not everyone makes it out alive. Amidst fire, losses, and budget cuts that hreaten everyone's future, the team of Chicago Fire stands together as a family. So bring on the drama! Bring on the romance! Bring on the cameradery!

Yay or Nay?

For everyone, who is into procedural dramas, here's one that'll get your adrenaline pumping! There are catastrophes and crimes that in their scale remind you of another Chicago-based drama: ER. The large ensemble cast is also similar to ER. There are a lot of very different, interesting characters on this show, ranging from the young, yet experienced all-female embulance team, to the veteran police chief, with some moral conflicts. You just want to root for them - and not just in a romantic way, which is a refreshing quality, compared to other shows. Yet, there are also quite a few egocentrical and annoying characters, who make it really hard to handle following their storylines. Still, there is a good balance in storytelling between being on the job and getting to know the characters' private lives. Chicago Fire also ties in with fellow shows Chicago PD and Chicago Med, which is an interesting way of unfolding a pretty detailed picture of a fictionalized Chicago and its people.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Film Review: His New Job (1915)

Source: Doctor Macro's High Quality Movie Scans
USA; 31 min.; short, comedy, slapstick, silent film
Director: Charles Chaplin
Writing: Charles Chaplin, Louella Parsons
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Arthur W. Bates, Robert Bolder, Frank J. Coleman, Charles Hitchcock, Charles Inslee, Charlotte Mineau, Jess Robbins, Charles J. Stine, Gloria Swanson, Ben Turpin, Leo White

We all probably think that Hollywood is and always has been the US capitol when it comes to film making. However, back at the very beginning of the 20th century, the US movie market was dominated by neither Los Angeles nor Thomas Edison’s film studios in New York. In the 1900s and 1910s, the metropolis for moving images was, indeed, Chicago.

With production companies such as the Selig Polyscope Company or Essanay Studios situated there, the Windy City attracted many film stars, amongst them Gloria Swanson and Charlie Chaplin. The latter did, in fact, direct and star in fourteen silent films for Essanay. But while thirteen of those were shot in and around the company’s remote studio in Niles, California, His New Job was made solely on Chicagoan soil.

The 1915 short certainly is one of the lesser known Chaplin movies. Performing his usual character, the little Tramp, we see him audition for a role in a historical romantic movie, causing – as usual – chaos everywhere he goes. Basically, the film is about the Tramp upsetting the studio boss, the secretary, the movie director, the leading stars and extras as well as the carpenter who’s responsible for building the set design – and all this within the span of 30 minutes.

I won’t lie, like most people I love the Tramp and his clumsy, cheeky ways. While slapstick usually isn’t my kind of humour, Chaplin always manages to tickle laughter out of me. His body language and mimic are a sight to behold, his naiveté and impertinence are very engaging and most often disarmingly charming. So, watching a Chaplin movie is almost never bound to disappoint me.

Now, His New Job features the Tramp’s brazen nature perfectly and makes him shine especially when teamed up with a rivalling man, played by Ben Turpin, who’s trying to win the same movie role the Tramp is auditioning for. The funnily choreographed fights between the two make for some nice entertainment and are, for me, the outstanding quality of the film.

Unfortunately, the story and character development is a bit thin otherwise. While it’s fun to watch the Tramp cause mayhem on a movie set – in the former movie capitol Chicago, no less – Chaplin’s routine tends to feel a little redundant here and there. The kind and heartfelt qualities of the character, which have been fleshed out in later films such as The Tramp (1915) or – one of my favourites – City Lights (1931), are completely neglected here and replaced by repeated kicking and tumbling and kicking and stumbling and the like. With such a short running time, comedic elements that have been funny the first time around grow old pretty quickly once they are shown for the third or fourth time. Unfortunately, beside Chaplin and Turpin, no other characters are bound to leave an impression either – especially not Gloria Swanson who can be seen in a minuscule part as a stenographer.

While His New Job might not be Chaplin’s best film, it definitely allows him to show off his talent for physical comedy. Furthermore, it is one of fourteen films crafted during his Chicago era, in which he progressively worked on the development of his Tramp character, eventually turning him into one of the most beloved movie characters in film history.

Chaplin left Chicago for the Mutual Film Corporation in California after his contract with Essanay expired in December 1915. His career strived while Chicago’s dominance in US movie making declined. Unpredictable weather conditions and the rising popularity of the western genre turned California into a more suitable scene for movie makers. However, the Essanay studio facilities can, over one hundred years later, still be found in 1345 West Argyle Street, Uptown, Chicago. Today, an initiative is trying to restore the buildings for reuse and thus save a vital part of US film history and also Chaplin’s work. After all, His New Job might not be a masterpiece, but it’s a beautiful legacy of a movie era gone by.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Scene to Remember: The Fundraiser Party Scene (The Dark Knight, 2008)

© Warner Bros. | Source: Batman.wikia

Despite the recent boom of comic adaptations in the cinematic universe, comics are a medium that have received little academic attention. That is because comics are still tightly linked to excessive action scenes, performed by men in tights, who are usually endowed with superpowers. Comics open up worlds that are distinctly different from the real one – worlds where spider bites lead to superpowers, mutants rescue or destroy the planet and your car may actually be an extraterrestrial being that becomes a humongous autobot when necessary. Comics and superhero stories in particular provide their readership with escapist fantasies that allow them to leave behind their daily lives and immerse themselves in the fantastic story world. If this is what gives comics their charm, however, then why did Christopher Nolan choose to ground his Batman adaptation The Dark Knight (2008) so firmly in reality?

In both the comic book and the film, Gotham City plays a role that exceeds that of a mere location. Although depicted in different manners, the city has a symbolic value that is one of the key themes in the Batman series. There is no Gotham without Batman and no Batman without Gotham.

The urban space is one of paranoia and fear. That is true for the gothic-noir Gotham of the comic books, with its archaic manors, grim gargoyles and dark, steamy alleys and also the Art Deco, modernist city of the Nolan films.

To create a sinister, oppressive mood, the comic relies heavily on noirish elements, such as the famous striped pattern of venetian blinds, which are borrowed from the cinematic genre of film noir. Colours, sharp angles and abstractions also play a major role for the tone of the comic book. A purple night sky or yellowish green alleys defy the laws of realism, but help to enhance the readers’ reaction to the scene. Or the way in which Batman’s shadow is drawn like a living, writhing thing, emphasises his demonic side. He is like one of Gotham’s gargoyles who protects but also frightens Gotham’s citizens.
© DC | Source: Batman - The Long Halloween p. 310

The Gotham City in the comics is a purely fictional place, while films, unless they fully rely on computer animation, have to use actually existent places and transform them to fit their needs. Unlike most other Batman films, The Dark Knight was not filmed in New York but in Chicago because Christopher Nolan wanted his film to be as realistic as possible and since Chicago does not have such a plethora of easily recognizable landmarks and building as New York does, there was little need for digital alteration: 

“It's that pressure-cooker, street-smart sense that makes Chicago a real — instead of manufactured — Gotham.” – Richard Moskal (Director of Chicago Film Office)

Unlike the comics, or even earlier Batman movies, Nolan’s The Dark Knight works with realism. His Gotham could be any modern metropolis and is not distinctly fictional. The film does not shun from showing that Gotham is not reduced to its nightlife, but plays with dualities – dark and light, good and evil – to augment its claim to realism.

The play with dualities is especially prominent in the scene in which the Joker crashes the fundraiser party Bruce Wayne, Gotham’s Dark Knight, gives for Harvey Dent who is Gotham’s White Knight. Just have a look:

The movement of the camera, when it follows the Joker through the room, is unsteady and therewith underlines the instability of the Joker’s psyche. When Rachel tells him to stop, he circles her like a predator and puts his potato peeler to her face. And when he does, the camera begins to drive in circles around them and creates a feeling of vertigo and sickness that mirrors what Rachel must feel. 

The background is blurred out and switches between showing Gotham’s two sides: the bright lit party room with Gotham’s high society, an anonymous, faceless crowd, too afraid to move or stand up against the group of criminals. And then outside of the window we have Gotham’s skyline with its modern glass skyscrapers all doused in darkness and reigned by fear, corruption and crime – the crime that has now invaded the ballroom. The way this scene is made up, with the rotating camera and the background alternating between light and dark reminds of the half-burnt coin TwoFace tosses in order to decide about fate. And it is not the only decisive scene in the film that is made up this way.

© Warner Bros. | Source: Screenshots The Dark Knight
The silhouettes of darkened skyscrapers, like those beyond the window, are typical symbols of modern urbanity. They represent progress, energy and dynamics, but also irrationality, constriction and peril. Despite the fact that Batman possesses the newest technology and sufficient financial means, he is nonetheless no match for the Joker’s unpredictable insanity and his battered potato peeler.

Gotham is a dark city, ruled by crime. It is a frightening place and to get that mood across, the comics and the film utilize very different means. 

Being a solely visual medium, the comic book works with estrangement and uses symbolic icons that have a negative connotation – steaming alleyways, dark, imposing mansions, graveyards and a dark colour palette. 

The film deliberately refrains from drifting into a too stylised set up. By taking one of the most realistic heroes in the comic universe and putting him into a realistic setting, Nolan goes against the strategy of the comics. He not only focuses on Gotham’s dark side, but also shows it by day, when it appears like any ordinary city. Instead of creating fear by estrangement, he counts on the fact that the familiar will create an equal or even greater reaction, because it is relatable, at some point even believable and accordingly all the more frightening.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Chicago Week: Guess the Movie!

Source: icons ETC
Can you guess which movie is hiding behind this picture puzzle? Granted that the film we're looking for isn't set in Chicago entirely, it's the events happening there which kick off the story and make the main protagonists flee the Windy City in a cloack-and-dagger operation. But enough with the clues already, it's time to guess!

Tired of guessing? Find the answer here

Monday, 16 November 2015

Manic Monday: Chicago Week Opener

© Miramax | Source: YouTube screenshot
Today's Monday isn't a usual Manic Monday. Over here at BSP, it's the beginning of a Chicago-themed week filled with exciting content all around the Windy City. For you, this means that in the upcoming seven days, you should keep checking our site and social media presences to not miss out on the fun.

Why Chicago Week, you might wonder? Our response to this would be, well, why not? In fact, we got inspired because our very on Squuls happened to be on location last week. She has some goodies in store for you in the next days. Additionally, our Nata Lie has taken a closer look at Chicago's connection with one of the most popular comic book cities out there. Which one? You're sure to find out soon. Until then, there's even more Chicago glory to come.

Today, I'm gonna kick off our thematic week by presenting you with a classic scene (in two parts, alas) from the 2002 musical movie Chicago. Set in the Prohibition era of the 1920s, the film evokes a time in which mobsters such as Johnny Torrio and Al Capone shaped the notorious criminal history of the city. And while we always tend to associate Chicagoan crime with a bunch of male players, Rob Marshall's film shows us that it's the ladies who know all about ruthless revenge.

Enjoy the scene, and have a great time visiting Chicago with us.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Characters We ♥ : Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead) [Mild Spoilers]

© AMC | Source: mthai
Has there ever been a person on this planet who said “Daryl Dixon? Nah… don’t like him.” Of course not, at least no one who watched past the first few episodes of AMC’s The Walking Dead (2010 -     ). So how come that a character, who was created solely for the TV show and is not even a part of the comic books, commands such unconditional love from The Walking Dead fans?

Source: etsy
When I started watching The Walking Dead I was vaguely aware of the hype going on around Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), but when he made his first appearance I thought that’s THE Daryl? He wasn’t really what I expected. I mean his first words on the show were “Son of a bitch” shortly followed by “All gnawed on by this…. filthy, disease-bearing motherless poxy bastard!” and all this while kicking against the carcass of a deer that has been mutilated by a walker. So the first impression he left was that of a short-tempered, vulgar redneck with anger management issues, the kind of guy you’d feel uneasy about meeting at night in a deserted alley. And while the following episode about the search for his no less angry, vulgar and in addition to that also racist brother didn’t alter the aforementioned impressions, I did begin to warm up to his character. And more and more so with every further episode. The qualities that made me frown at the beginning have come to appear as some of his best qualities against the backdrop of the raging Zombocalypse. 

© AMC | Source: uproxx
While most of the people around him just seem to be playing camp, Daryl is the real deal. He’s a survivalist, the natural enemy of the walkers. He has abilities that seemed redundant and old-fashioned in the modern world, but are more needed than ever in these post-apocalyptic times. Daryl can hunt his own food, read tracks, he has a great sense of direction and sharp instincts plus he can use a crossbow, which seems like a better suited weapon than a noisy, walker-attracting gun.

We don’t know much about his past, but Daryl says: “You want to know what I was before all this? I was nobody. Nothing.” And I believe he believes that to be true. The Dixon brothers grew up in a mountain region in North Georgia. Their parents were both alcoholics and their father apparently also physically abused them. Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) spent a lot of his youth in juvenile detention and left Daryl alone to fend with his father, claiming later he didn’t know he was beating him, too. There is no indication in the show that either Merle of Daryl ever had a real job or had any access to higher education. Merle was a drug addict and after being dishonourably discharged from the military, he only drifted through life, taking his brother along with him, who did everything he told him. So by today’s standards you could say they were both nobodies, people who didn’t possess any value to society. But that drastically changes once everything goes down the drain.

There is a paradigm shift and what used to be important for humanity, like formal education, politeness, fashion and culture, gave way to the only thing that matters now: the art of survival. So it’s not surprising that throughout the show the tough, ruthless individuals seem to fare the best. But don’t get me wrong, Mr. Dixon is nothing like that. Of course he’s tough – he’s got the biceps, the loose tongue and the guts to prove that, but he is by no means ruthless. Quite the contrary. He and Glenn (Steven Yeun) are probably the most good-hearted characters on the entire show.

© AMC | Source: buzzfeed
Daryl appears to be a lone wolf at heart, being not particularly fond of company, feeling trapped when confined by four walls and preferring to stay outdoors, despite the possibility of walker attacks. Not to forget that he is riding a motorcycle, again despite the possibility of walker attacks, although there is more than enough room in the cars with the others. Nonetheless, he never seems to lose his faith in humanity and is loyal and caring towards his friends. He never turns on Rick (Andrew Lincoln), despite his oftentimes questionable decisions, and keeps on searching for Carol’s (Melissa McBride) lost daughter Sophia (Madison Lintz), even long after her own mother has given up on her. Then there is his brother. Although Daryl condemns Merle’s actions towards the rest of his group, who have come to be like a family to him, he’s nevertheless averse to leaving his brother alone. And since there is no way for Merle to become a part of the group again for obvious reasons, Daryl decides to leave it, too, out of a sense of responsibility towards his flesh and blood. Admittedly, when watching that scene, all I thought was “Noooooo!” But actually, the fact that Daryl sticks so unconditionally to his brother made him rise even further in my estimation. He’s not the kind of person to leave anyone behind, just because it might be the easier, more comfortable thing to do.

Never one to shun potential dangers or confrontation, Daryl is usually the first to volunteer for whatever needs to be done, and by now there is probably not one member in their group who has not, at some point, been saved by Daryl or relied on his aid. He is the kind of guy you want to have around when the world is nearing its end. Whenever he’s on screen, it feels like everything is going to be okay somehow, so in case of danger: Keep Calm and Hide Behind Daryl Dixon. He even took out a freaking TANK all by himself. How badass can you get? And apparently the need for a Daryl transcends the realm of the show. Just have a look at this picture Norman Reedus uploaded on his Facebook page:

 Source: popmythology
It takes a while for him to open up to those around him and lower his guard, but the realisation that he is a cherished, indispensable part of the group and of course his growing friendship with Carol, clearly help speed up the process. It’s like Carol tells him in the first episode of season 4, “you’re gonna have to learn to live with the love.”

Well said, Carol. Well said…

© AMC | Source: ebaumsworld

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Film Review: The Drop (2014)

© 20th Century Fox | Source: The Artery
USA; 106 min.; crime, drama, neo-noir
Director: Michaël R. Roskam
Writing: Dennis Lehane, after his short story “Animal Rescue”
Cinematography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
Cast: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Morgan Spector, Ann Dowd, Michael Esper, James Frecheville

“That is life. That's what it is. People like me coming along when you're not looking.”  -- Eric Deeds

There are many films out there showing a heist gone wrong, but only few manage to deliver such a fresh and unique feeling like Michaël R. Roskam’s The Drop. Based on a short story by crime aficionado Dennis Lehane – writer of novels such as Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone or Shutter Island – this film is a neo-noir gem in which genres like crime thriller, family drama and rom com unite with ease.

The story is unfolded in three narrative threads: There are Bob (Tom Hardy) and his cousin Marv (James Gandolfini) who run a bar belonging to the Chechen mob. When, one night, the bar is robbed by two masked men, Bob and Marv are under pressure to retrieve the money. Then there’s Nadia (Noomi Rapace) in whose waste bin Bob finds a hurt pit bull puppy. Nadia and Bob befriend each other while taking care of the dog, and soon find themselves up against Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), a known psychopath and owner of the puppy he now wants back. And, finally, there’s Detective Torres (John Ortiz) who investigates not only the bar robbery but also the disappearance of a young man who is said to have been murdered by Deeds almost ten years ago.

The outline seems to indicate that we’re directly headed into 106 minutes of full-on mobster bloodshed and insanity. However, actual violence is not at the centre of The Drop. There are, of course, moments of brutality – but they’re short and only mildly graphic. Roskam’s film relies much more on character development and a thick, intense atmosphere – and this is where the genre mix takes its full effect. Setting Bob’s sweet, blossoming relationship with Nadia and his growing affection for the little puppy up against his Chechen trouble and the sadistic Eric Deeds causes a fair amount of unease. People who have the tendency to fear for the pet whenever they watch a horror movie or thriller – like me – will probably remain on the edge of their seats throughout most of the film. But even without the cute puppy in distress at the centre of things, The Drop succeeds in portraying how sweetness and decency are corrupted in a world ruled by power struggles, revenge and sheer madness.

For me, Bob certainly is one of the most intriguing cinematic characters in recent years, and Tom Hardy plays him to perfection. As the butt of the film’s inherent dog metaphor, Bob functions as the human counterpart to the little combat dog: he’s sweet-natured, open-minded, unassuming and protective of the ones he holds dear. And yet there’s something unsettling about him when we see how naturally he navigates through the challenges his crime-ridden neighbourhood throws at him, how easy it is for him to adapt to his surroundings. Hardy gives the character quirky features without ridiculing him, an innate strength without turning him into an alpha male and a sadness without having him appear whiney. His Bob is an intriguing, subtle take on the lonesome noir hero figure.

The film features a splendid cast in general. Noomi Rapace delivers a heartfelt performance as a woman who has pulled herself out of emotional misery, and has wonderful chemistry with Hardy. The late James Gandolfini, in his final performance, plays his established ruthless gangster role, but his present discontent and longing for better days gone by give him a human twist. Matthias Schoenaerts certainly is an actor to look out for. He gives Eric a good amount of unpredictability and makes him instantly menacing. John Ortiz as the persistent cop is solid, even though his plot appears a bit like mere filler material until things come full circle in the finale.

Those who are familiar with Lehane’s oeuvre know that the writer enjoys a good twist. The Drop also succeeds in connecting all the loose threads to a rather unexpected revelation. If I would have to come up with some kind of beef I could have with the film, though, it’s probably that things aren’t as effective on a second viewing. The moment I knew when and in what way tensions were going to relieve themselves, the atmosphere was no longer as haunting as it was during my first viewing experience and, naturally, the twist no longer comes unexpectedly.

Still, it pays off to (re)visit The Drop since it’s not only about plot development or grand twists at the end. The film presents us with thoroughly written and acted characters, and it’s fun to see them form and deconstruct their mutual relationships. Additionally, there’s an intriguing layer of social criticism as well as an exciting exploration of human nature. Throw in an unconventional yet fitting mix of generic tones and a cute puppy, and you’re certain to have created a crime drama that definitely shouldn’t be dropped.


Monday, 9 November 2015

Manic Monday: Chaos Never Dies Day

© Disney | Source: beaconbolt
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, Chaos is defined as:

complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behaviour and events are not controlled by anything

However, it’s not always quite as black and white as this quote lets you assume. Especially in our everyday life there are many different types of chaos.

There is chaos as the by-product of a brilliant mind at work.

 Source: ireadhands

Or the highly entertaining kind of chaos you find in the home of a family with four children and only one real grown up, while the other one acts like yet another child.

© FOX | Source: laughingsquid

And then there is this man:

© Warner Bros.| Source: buzzfeed

The self-proclaimed agent of chaos is one of the most popular villains there is and why is that the case? Because we just love his quirky way of thinking. He doesn’t make plans, he doesn’t have a goal, the Joker does what he feels like doing. And aren’t there situations in life when we all long for that? When we want to go completely bonkers without regard for the consequences; to just disrupt the order of our everyday lives and do whatever the hell we want.

This is what today is there for. On Chaos Never Dies Day we celebrate the absence of the calmness and tranquillity we are always told to seek out (and which still seems permanently absent in our lives) and instead focus on living into the day, accepting--- no, celebrating that things can’t always go according to plan, that there is no point in making plans all the time to begin with. Just do it like the Joker and embrace the fact that life is often messy (and wouldn’t it be dead boring if everything was perfect all the time?) Just don’t blow up a hospital and stuff, please.

Happy Chaos Never Dies Day, BSPeeps!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Film Review: Spectre (2015)

© MGM | Source:
UK, USA; 148 min.; action, adventure, thriller, spy
Director: Sam Mendes
Writing: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth; based on the characters created by Ian Fleming
Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen

“You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond.” – Mr. White

Squuls and Rina watched Spectre and here are 007 things they had to say about it:

001 The Opening Titles

© MGM | Source: The Telegraph
Rina: Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” is a very slow and solemn piece of music, but it nevertheless harbours the typical 007 melodics. While it might lack the playfulness of previous Bond songs, it shines by delivering a certain kind of heft and gravitas. The more serious and melancholic tone – given the subject matter of Spectre – only seems fitting. When, during the opening titles, an air of golden fire mixes with one of hopeless gloom and doom, Smith’s impressive vocals manage to unfold in a goose-bump-worthy way. Bond is shown surrounded by attractive women, obscure figures and ghosts of his past. Faces and whole bodies seem mere black silhouettes, like they’re hiding in the shadows with mischief in tow. A menacing atmosphere is further created by an abstract bunch of black tentacles crawling through the montage, taking hold of every moving thing – entwining, rendering powerless, choking. We immediately know, despite the usual sex and glamour, Bond is in for trouble this time. Real trouble.

Squuls: Man oh man! To me this was almost the best part of the movie! – Not that the rest sucked or anything, but I am normally too impatient to sit through these artsy-fartsy intros. Not here though. While Sam Smith’s title song on its own sounds well sung, but highlight-less, it shines in combination with the motion pictures. The sequence connects a fiery golden lightness embodied by Bond with a shadowy blue darkness that symbolizes the shady business Spectre is involved in. And the flow from one moving image to the next is simply brilliant: all is connected by the gliding tentacles of the kraken that symbolizes Spectre. At this point I was sitting in the theater, internally screaming: Best Bond ever!

002 The Story

© MGM | Source: 4 Your Excitement
Squuls: In any good Bond movie you’ve got a nice little trifecta of storylines going on: the case of the movie, the underlying mythology of all things Bond, and a little love story here and there. In Spectre the former is not as present as the main case is, well, the back story of all things Bond. Since Casino Royale we’ve been revisiting James’ origin story that comes to a climax (or end) in this installment. So far so good. But over all I can’t help but find the story lacking in a lot of parts. The villains’ main aim is very up to date and pressing, yet the whole threat of total surveillance comes along a little uninspired dramaturgically. As M said in the film: “George Orwell’s worst nightmare!” yet we’ve been there and done that… In its climax of James Bond’s origin story Spectre creates/ reveals an arch-enemy to Bond, whose personal vendetta is behind everything James ever had to face. As I enjoy all things logical and love learning how things came about, I found this the most interesting part of the storyline. The super obvious hint-dropping to prepare us viewers for the big revelation I did not enjoy on the other hand. What I did not only not enjoy, but could not stand was the love story in Spectre. Praised beforehand as a super innovative Bond with not only one but three Bond-girls it turned out to be a kitsch fest that’ll be hard to top: “James I am scared!” – well, so was I…

Rina: Right! Four people wrote on the screenplay for Spectre – and you can tell. The film simply does not come together as a solid whole. While it starts off brilliantly, with remarkable action and a fun re-introduction of the core supporting characters, Spectre loses steam somewhere in the middle. In the end, there’s a final act so atrocious and underwhelming that it made me want to cry out in despair. The premise of Bond investigating a criminal organisation that somehow seems to be connected to his orphan past certainly is highly intriguing. However, wrapping this story up in a schmaltzy kitsch fest of epic proportions isn’t. You get a sense, with this most probably being the last Bond movie starring Daniel Craig as the title character, that the writers wanted to give 007 an ending as happy as possible, completely neglecting Bond’s psychology or the lore established in the three previous films. So, what begins as an engaging espionage thriller ends as a third-rate spy romance, leaving no room for a thorough study of Bond’s past and the ties that haunt him. So much wasted potential. Seriously, shame on you, writing staff!

003 The Action

© MGM | Source:
Rina: If there’s one thing in which Spectre succeeds utterly and completely, it’s creating flawless, fast-paced, captivating, well-choreographed action moments, both computer-generated and stunt-based. There are explosions, shootouts, fist fights and car chases. There are violent face-offs inside helicopters and train wagons, and a scene in which Bond pursues three range rovers through a snowy forest – in an aeroplane. It’s these fun rides, paired with beautifully captured scenic views and the generally stunning photography, that prevent Spectre from falling into oblivion once the story goes downhill. The thrill of the chase never really fades away and, on a very base level, Spectre entertains until the very end with all its visual beauty, adrenaline-fuelled sequences and funny one-liners. Action-wise, my personal highlight is right at the beginning of the film. Bond is in Mexico City to prevent terrorists from blowing up a stadium filled with people. With the celebrations of the Day of the Dead as a wonderfully eerie backdrop, Bond embarks on a break-neck manoeuvre to stop the bad guys. Definitely one of the best cinematic opening sequences this year.

Squuls: I completely agree. Let’s go out with a bang, Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig apparently thought and packed Spectre chock-full with impressive action sequences. It seems they neither saved money on CGI nor choreography. Craig is so brilliant yet subtle in his physical acting, that he of course delivers, but paired with some challenging opponents and breathtaking landscapes or settings you’ll be crying with joy. For me too, the opening sequence involving a helicopter fight during a mass celebration of the Dia de Los Muertos deserves a special shout out for drama and visual grandeur.

004 The Gadgets

© MGM | Source: YouTube screenshot
Rina: The Bond era with Daniel Craig in the lead has always been popular for its more realistic approach towards technology. Ben Whishaw’s Q might not be likely to build an exploding pen, but in Spectre he’s as eager as ever to show off some traditional gadgets, with the injection which makes Bond’s blood traceable all around the world probably being the fanciest invention of the nerdy mastermind. Besides this, there’s a mean wristwatch and a new, modernised Aston Martin, built to shoot bullets and beams of fire. The car is so beautiful that it breaks my heart to know that Bond most probably will go and trash the thing as soon as he puts his “perfectly-formed arse” in the driver’s seat. Anyway, Spectre probably is the most playful Bond of the era when it comes to gadgets. Even Oberhauser, the main villain, has his own share of wicked machinery in store. While everything is still rather toned down in contrast to, let’s say, the Pierce Brosnan movies, I could have done without most of the new inventions – except for the car, of course.

Squuls: Admittedly, I am no tech gal, but even I can appreciate the elegance and power of that Aston Martin. Combined with the very retro inscription of its features as a nod to the old movies and Daniel Craig sitting in it … good times! Q as the quirky yet brilliant brain behind it all is once again portrayed by the extraordinary Ben Whishaw and gets a good bit of screen time. The genius is essential in solving the very tech-based case in Spectre.

005 The Bond-sy

© MGM | Source: Radio WPSU
Rina: I’m of the conviction that Daniel Craig’s performance as Bond has been nothing but utter perfection so far. He brings a certain physicality to the role that is vital in building the part. He oozes strength and aloofness, sex appeal, wit and coolness. He allows us to see tiny glimpses of emotion under the tough exterior: big enough to make us question whether Bond’s soul is not completely lost after all, but then also small enough to make us doubt that there’s really any hope for his psychological redemption. Craig’s Bond isn’t simply macho or misogynistic; he isn’t plainly cold-hearted, dull, arrogant or likeable. He’s a riddle played with beautiful enigmatic precision. So, in order to bring Craig’s era to a fitting end, Bond would have deserved a farewell suiting his complex nature, his tendency towards self-destruction and vindictiveness. Instead, Spectre lets him ride off into the sunshine with a girl by his side. I find this to be completely unbelievable and, in all honesty, it’s lazy writing. It even makes me angry because, in only a few minutes, Spectre manages to ruin the entire arc of a carefully established character I hold very dear. Shame on you, writing staff – again! 

Squuls: First of all, I love Craig as Bond. Second of all, I love Craig as Bond. As I said earlier his physical acting and subtlety are brilliant, but he can also bring the emotion, and charm any Bond girl’s pants off. Yet, a lot of times in Spectre he looks tired. The looks he casts at people or directs at the camera speak to that and it may be me interpreting things, but it felt as if the freshness was missing from his actions. Taking into account recent speculations, this might very well have been Daniel Craig's last time playing 007. It was all well choreographed, but the spring was missing from his step at times. Still, this might just have to do with the lack of chemistry he had with the female he had to share much of his screen time with…

006 The Bond Girls

© MGM | Source:
Squuls: Aaand there it is, the real problem of this Bond. Three Bond girls were apparently too much to handle for all the males involved in making the movie. First of all, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny makes a brilliant addition to Team Bond. She is confident and graceful in her portrayal and can hold her ground even against James Bond’s flirty attempts to get her to do something. She is still loyal to him and helps when needed. Moneypenny appears to truly understand 007, yet the writers of the movie appear to not have understood her value to the story. In the already not enough screen time she gets, Moneypenny is often just the run along company to the “Bond squad”. Then there’s Monica Bellucci, who plays Lucia, and was beforehand praised as finally being a leading lady that matches the leading man’s age. She truly is a great fit for a leading lady. Lucia is vulnerable, yet insightful and has the strength to cope with difficult situations. When Bond comes to her rescue sparks ignite and there is that Bond dynamic we know and love. But as quick as that spark ignites it goes out again, when Lucia is shipped off to America and out of the movie. The main Bond girl of Spectre, it pains me to say, is Madeleine Swann, portrayed by Léa Seydoux. On paper her character looks kick-ass, being the daughter of a major villain and a renowned psychologist herself. Yet her character turns out to be anything but kick-ass. To me there is zero chemistry between her and Bond and her independence is little more than a façade. Even the writers’ attempt to make Swann seem educated and mysterious by making her mumble stuff in French when she’s drunk is in vain. She is a spoiled little Daddy’s girl used to getting her way and  if not acting bratty. While, boo hoo, she attempts to help James fight off some bad guys, in the end all that stayed with me were her “I am scared James!” and “I love you James!” whines. And finally, she royally screwed up the ending for me, which left a bitter taste in my mouth for all of Spectre.

Rina: Spectre is indeed in huge trouble when it comes to Bond girls. The franchise has found a wonderful Moneypenny in Naomie Harris. However, she’s hardly in the film. Then there’s been a lot of buzz about how Monica Bellucci is the oldest Bond girl to date. However, the gloriously charismatic and breathtakingly beautiful Bellucci is hardly in the film. We are left with Léa Seydoux, who appears in the second half of the film, initiating the moment when things start to go downhill. I’m still baffled as to why the palest Bond girl of the last nine years is set up to be the one which will make Bond forget his beloved Vesper Lynd and abandon his job at the MI6. This is really the most outraging aspect of the entire film for me because – as a huge Vesper fan – I refuse to believe that Bond’s loyalty towards her, his deep love for her and his pain over her betrayal and death are all forgotten in light of a fling that comes out of nowhere and is absolutely incomprehensible. Furthermore, Craig and Seydoux really have no chemistry with each other, which makes it even harder to believe their amorous tendencies. If you ask me, there is no other woman for Bond than Vesper. No way out of his misery, no spiritual release, no happy ever after – and the end of Spectre is a trivial, sugar-coated disgrace.

007 The Villains

© MGM | Source:
Rina: Spectre is all about presenting the über-villain of this Bond cycle. Here we are to meet the person responsible for Vesper’s death, for Mathis’ death, for the destruction of the MI6 headquarters and the loss of M. Every bit of pain felt by Bond during the last years can be traced back to Spectre and its main player. Since both Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012) featured perfectly evil antagonists, I was prepared to be absolutely blown away by Christoph Waltz as the criminal master mind Oberhauser, but, well... I wasn’t. When we first meet him, he hardly speaks. His menacing presence stems from effective camera work, which has him remain in the shadows. As soon as he starts to talk, all menace is gone, though. Waltz half-heartedly channels his former performances in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012), mixes them with a bit of uninspiring attitude and comes up with a villain that is a sad, ridiculous snoozefest. His motivations to harm Bond are explained in two sentences – thanks again for the thorough writing, guys! The rest of the time he spends giggling childishly and throwing evil looks into Bond’s direction. How... yawn... very... yawn... exciting. To spruce things up, actor Andrew Scott is cast as C, the man who tries to abolish the 00 program and to put MI5 and MI6 under one single command. The obsoleteness of MI6 was already at the centre of Skyfall, a plot that worked very well within the context of that film. In Spectre it seems like they really didn’t know what else to do with M, Moneypenny and company, so they cooked up the same plot and hope that no-one would notice. It’s quite sad, really.

Squuls: Ohh yes, Andrew Scott and Christoph Waltz! Nice plan typecasting them to their very best abilities. Scott basically played the MI5 version of his Sherlock character Moriaty and of course could pull it off, yet his role as C was much less faceted and much more cliché-laden. Waltz as Oberhauser was as well put in a role he can pull of any day. It never ceased to amaze me, how someone with such a gentle face can play such a masochist. The revelation of his character’s true importance to James Bond was a nice touch and idea, though I find the motivation behind it all slightly over dramatic and lacking. In the end both actors playing villains were simply going through the motions – solid performances, but the roles they got hardly allowed the creation of excitement.

How about a final verdict? Well, here you go:

© MGM | Source: CVR Magazine
Rina: Spectre looks as spectacular as its predecessor and manages to convey action and thrill with ease. There’s coolness, decadence, wit and sexiness exactly where it’s supposed to be. Story-wise, if I had to judge by the first half of the film alone, I’d be happy to admit that Sam Mendes crafted another perfect Bond adventure, with an engaging spy mystery and an exciting chase after a master criminal. However, things slowly but certainly began to fall apart as soon as I realised, that the master criminal really is a boring joke, the main Bond girl an uncharismatic mess, and the plot is really doing everything to deconstruct the Bond lore I’ve come to love over the last nine years. Spectre certainly isn’t a bad film if you come with no expectations attached and are just in it for the action, the strong visuals and the one-liners. If you’re looking for more, it certainly isn’t as great as it could’ve been.


Squuls: After letting it sink in for a day and a half, I have to say my verdict on Spectre is slightly bipolar. On the one hand I saw a brilliant movie with great shots, witty one-liners and brilliant action – but on the other hand there were the cheap hints to forward the story and that horrid, horrid romantic plot. The first half of the movie saw some impressive stunt work and well choreographed crowd scenes, as well as the continuation of Bond's personal vendetta that's been his driving force ever since his one true love, Vesper Lynd, died in Casino Royale. Bond in trouble over this with the higher-ups, yet roping in some of his loyal helpers within the MI6 – classic James Bond and that equals good times. At this point I was thoroughly enjoying myself. But somewhere along the way things went downhill. A lot of plot devices were super obvious or even an insult to the viewers abilities to understand and follow the story. And then that horrible woman appeared and for some reason the whole staff involved in Spectre insisted on basically rebooting the whole Casino Royale storyline of James finding his soulmate and finally getting that happy ending. Only this time they set him up with a pale potato instead of stunning and clever Vesper. That the whole thing doesn't make any context in the wider story arch they'd been telling for four movies, I won't even mention here. After the credits rolled I was therefore extremely disappointed and more than a little pissed, especially if this is to be the final Bond movie of the amazing Daniel Craig! And I am sorry to say, but, for me, if the ending sucks the whole movie was basically pointless and sucked as well...