It used to be that mostly left-leaning movie critics could be counted on to put some effort into the way they showed their venomous distain for the assorted conservative, manly themes that continue to feature in James Bond films, including the latest one. But this time they’re really phoning it in. They seem to hate Spectre more than usual, but they can’t seem to express it very coherently or concisely. RogerEbert.com reviewer Matt Seitz wrote what seemed to me about 30 pages of rambling despondency that made me wonder if I should call the suicide hotline in Los Angeles on his behalf. Vox.com lived up to its creative potential and simply wrote the headline: “Spectre is the Worst James Bond Movie in Years.” Read the whole review and it’s not much more specific than that, but one doesn’t read Vox for the intellectual spectacle.
To find out for ourselves, we went to see Spectre on Sunday, and we decided to add an additional element of danger this time, so we saw it in an Aurora, Colorado theater. Fortunately it was not one designated a “Gun Free Zone,” so the danger was considerably lessened, and everyone survived.
Our little group covered a pretty broad spectrum of ages, sexes and tastes, and yet the film got a unanimous stamp of approval. Of course, that explained the overwhelming disapproval of the critics and the social justice warriors. That always happens when real people like a film. Movie critics and SJWs occupy their own universe, after all. But we noticed something else askance with the reviews this time. They were all quite vague and full of outright misdirection.
For example, they all claimed that Daniel Craig seemed ‘clearly’ tired of being Bond and gave an unenthusiastic performance. Um, no he didn’t. Not at all. He was at the absolute top of his game. He fought harder and with more passion than in any of his other three attempts, including Skyfall, which along with Casino Royale, the critics seem to hold up as an unassailable masterpiece. Neither of those movies really were any better than this one. Critics often claimed that the humor didn’t work as well in Spectre, but our observations were the opposite. Despite some of the writers’ shortcomings, director Sam Mendes managed to keep the humor playful and continuous throughout much of Spectre. How could anyone see the results of the ambiguous labels in the cockpit of the Aston Martin that was set up for Agent 009 or the rat scene in Tangiers and think them unfunny, especially compared to the dry, relentless and bitchy bickering between Bond and Vesper in Casino Royale? So what gives with this one?
I know what I think. Critics are uncomfortable being straight about their distaste for some of the themes, such as the prominent lesson in Spectre that a monolithic, utopian, socialistic, one-world government with infinite power over its citizens is a catastrophe. Ralph Fienes’ M character voices the libertarian thought: “My concern is what they do with it (information/power), and who wields the power.” All of the traditional, old-school homages must wear on the more progressive, as well. They must really hate the ending where Bond and Dr. Swann ride off together in the restored 1960s Aston, with Dr. Swann happily in the passenger seat. They hate that. Plus, the little jabs must weigh heavy on the lefty snowflakes. The use of the Latin “Tempus Fugit” term by Bond, which is common in Tea Party circles. The Kale smoothie “with enzymes” that Bond disgustedly orders thrown down the toilet to “skip the middleman.”
I thought the most obvious tell (to use Casino Royale lingo) was a review by one of the Rotten Tomatoes staff who complained about how frustrating it was that the movie contained such “outdated sexual mores.” Whu-uut??! The dude has 3 consensual, extramarital encounters in the movie. That’s not promiscuous enough for you? And Monica Bellucci is older than Daniel Craig! That’s not empowering enough toward women? But no, the keyword here is ‘frustrating.’ Feminists and LGBT activists especially like to talk about how ‘frustrated’ and ‘exhausted’ they are preaching to the moronic cis-normatives and patriarchal knuckle-draggers that never get it. This guy is referring to getting a little euphoric taste of Silva’s and Bond’s bisexual flirtation in Skyfall (the one they l-o-v-e, remember?) and getting none of it here. Spectre has not a glimpse of a single transexual or confused character in the entire two and a half hours. That’s what THAT is about. What a shame.
I might add that last weekend, the far more critically acclaimed Bridge of Spies movie took in less than one-tenth the receipts of Spectre. Strange how that works.