At The Movies: Spectre, The Peanuts Movie

You’ve gotta be a real daring individual to take on James Bond at the box office.

Or a real blockhead.


I’ve never been a big James Bond fan. In general, I watch the movies, enjoy them, then promptly forget all about them. For example, I didn’t remember that M had died in the last one until people in the current movie started calling Ralph Fiennes by that initial.

So yeah, enjoy them but don’t get a lot out of them. Now let’s get this review down before I forget what happened.

Spectre-poster-Daniel-Craig-Lea-Seydoux“Spectre” is the 24th Bond film and it was about as entertaining as the rest of them. I like Daniel Craig and find him to be a more interesting Bond. What he lacks in suave good looks he makes up for in intensity.

The movie starts out with your typical big action sequence followed by mesmerizing opening credits played over a theme song sung by this year’s artist of importance. If there’s one thing Bond movies are, it’s predictable.

Bond has gone lone wolf on a mission for the late M, while back in Washington — err, London — some bureaucratic weasel wants to shut down the Double O program. (Wasn’t this the plot to this year’s “Mission: Impossible?”)

Bond travels to various exotic locales; repeatedly fights an unstoppable (Dave Bautista) assassin (until he’s stopped); has encounters with at least two attractive women (Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux); gets valuable assistance from  Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris); drives a cool, fast car;  before he finally confronts his enemy — the evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).

If there’s one thing Bond movies are, it’s predictable.

Directed by Sam Mendes, “Spectre” is good but not great Bond. The action sequences are decent but not as spectacular as some that have gone before. Seydoux isn’t particularly enchanting as the latest woman who dislikes Bond at first encounter but is in love with him by closing credits.

Most disappointing was Waltz as Blofeld. I was really looking forward to seeing what he would do in the Bond world after his wonderful performances in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained.” If only this Blofeld had been scripted by Quentin Tarantino.

I still like Craig. Word is this may be his last Bond film (he has one more on contract) and it certainly was written that way. I’ll miss him. If I can remember him.

The Peanuts Movie

Blue Sky Studios, makers of “Ice Age” and Rio,” have brought their brightly colored, computer-generated style of animation to that most beloved of comic strip features — the Peanuts gang. The result is a movie that would probably make the late Charles M. Schulz proud.

MV5BMTU1MzAxOTY2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzYzMzM5NTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_“The Peanuts Movie” pretty much plays out like a 90-minute “Peanuts Greatest Hits” compilation (and you’ll have to wait for the end credits to see if Lucy lets Charlie Brown kick the football). See Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) try to fly a kite. See best friend Linus (Alexander Garfin) be supportive. See Lucy (Hadley Belle Miller ) be the opposite.  See Schroeder (Noah Johnston) play the piano. See Pig Pen (AJ Teece) kick up dirt. And see Snoopy and Woodstock (voiced by the late Bill Melendez) just be adorable.

The plot, such as it is, involves Charlie Brown’s attempts to be noticed by the new girl in school. The one with the red hair, as if I have to tell you. Meanwhile, Snoopy is having various adventures trying to take down the Red Baron. The Snoopy subplot features some fun animation but goes on too long.

By virtue of squeezing every Peanuts character into the show, while focusing mainly on Charles and Snoopy, a lot of characters get short-shrift. I don’t mind that when it comes to Peppermint Patty and Marcie, but I thought Linus deserved more attention.

“The Peanuts Movie” is gentle, good-natured fun — just like the comic it is based on. You can count on it ending with a nice moral. I was concerned they might try to update it for the 21st Century audience, but fortunately there were no bodily-noise jokes to be found.

The gang looks pretty good in computer animation form. The film is available in 3D, but I didn’t get much out of it. I’m sure the standard version is just as good.

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