Movie date: Spectre (PG13)
The Bond formula delivers stylish thrills for fans, but is devoid of substance for everyone else
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
THE SKINNY: Super spy James Bond (Craig) goes rogue when he follows a clue from his past. While his new boss M (Fiennes) fights to keep the secret service alive, Bond shoots and seduces his way around the world to uncover the truth behind the sinister organisation Spectre.
MARS by SOLOMON LIM
The checks are all there.
Heart-in-mouth opening sequence? Check.
Helpless siren Bellucci all too willing to spill the beans during a sexy interrogation? Check.
Big bad Waltz? Check.
Henchman Drax, I mean Hinx (Bautista), who's all thumbs in a fight? Check.
The list goes on.
Despite it being very Bond-by-the-numbers, Spectre is a fun movie.
Yes, the pacing misfires at times, thanks to director Mendes' over-indulgent camerawork, and yes, it's odd how Seydoux's character veers from a Bond-hating damsel in distress to a pistol-packing femme fatale who can't keep her hands off Craig.
But hey, it's Bond.
You can't hate the Bond.
Spectre styles itself not just as a standalone film but more like a finale to a narrative that started in 2006's Casino Royale - great if you're a fan, not so much if you aren't.
Compared to the Pyrrhic drama that was Skyfall, Spectre seems like the series' denouement, and suffers for it.
Blink-and-you'll-miss-it references to previous instalments in the Craig Bond franchise as well as fan-service moments dot the movie, making the casual viewer go "Vesper who?"
I'm a Connery man at heart, but Craig's Bond is a Bond for our enlightened times - less ladykiller and more man-with-a-mission.
I will miss him.
VENUS by LISA TWANG
Watching Spectre is like ordering a martini and getting a protein shake, which is precisely what happens to an unlucky Bond in one scene.
This is a half-baked Bond film, and Craig, along with the rest of the cast, seems to be simply going through the motions.
The plot, surrounding the titular evil Illuminati-style organisation, is hollow.
The action, other than the glorious opening sequence in Mexico City and a train fight reminiscent of From Russia With Love, lacks punch.
I've always maintained the stony-faced Craig lacks the charm with the ladies the debonair 007 is supposed to have.
While Bellucci sizzles in her seduction scene with Craig, it's over all too soon. And main Bond girl Seydoux lacks any real chemistry with Craig to be truly sexy.
I'd rather date the young gadget geek Q than Craig's Bond. Q is much wittier and has all the good jokes in the film.
I enjoyed the gritty, emotionally-wrenching story and action of the previous Mendes-helmed instalment Skyfall (2012). Spectre pales in comparison.
It has plenty of references to classic Bond films, but seems haunted by the ghost of the movie it could have been.
THE CONSENSUS: The Bond formula delivers stylish thrills for fans, but is devoid of substance for everyone else.