Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How "Spectre" Could Have Been Better

This can also be titled "How Spectre Could Have Been Good" if you're of a more hard-line disposition. These are my thoughts on what could have made Spectre better.

1. Set up Spectre earlier
Obviously they only just got the rights back so they couldn't really do it, but the organisation would have benefited from being introduced earlier on. Given that Craig might be back for one more film, they could have easily established Spectre in this film and then dealt with it in the following film. This would make Spectre seem more genuinely pervasive and threatening.

2. Introduce 'Blofeld' earlier
When Oberhauser tells Bond that he's Blofeld in the secret base, it doesn't mean anything, 'cause it's just a name. Like Cumberbatch being Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, it's just there to titillate people with pre-existing knowledge of the character - not necessarily fans, even. Just people who can go "Ooh, I get that reference." Internally to the text, it doesn't serve any purpose.
Instead, it should have been established reasonably early that the leader of Spectre was a man named Ernst Stavro Blofeld, but no one really knew who he was. Then we can have that mystery present in the film, making Spectre seem extremely ominous: at the centre of the spider's web is a man no one can identify or target. If the organisation's leadership is so obscure, how can it possibly be dealt with?
Then it can go two ways. Personally, I would drop the 'adoptive brother' angle but there are ways of utilising it. Oberhauser could be retained as a high-ranking member of Spectre with a vendetta against Bond who knows who Blofeld is, and perhaps is a weak link in the chain for that reason.
The other possibility is that Bond believes that Oberhauser works for Blofeld - he knows of both people - but the twist or discovery is that Oberhauser and Blofeld are the same person: the reason no one from the outside can identify Blofeld is because he was there the whole time. The problem with this, however, is that much like the actual film it's a twist for twist's sake that doesn't serve the plot.

3. Construct the plot so that Spectre has already won
Rather than having a few minutes to save the world from some all-conquering surveillance mechanism secretly controlled by Spectre, the network should have been set up months ago, and Spectre have been using it the whole time for their advantage. I'm envisaging a scene with M at some kind of launch party for it early in the film. Thus Bond's mission goes from preventing Spectre to undoing Spectre's damage, and thus having to deal with the pervasive surveillance which is now at their disposal. This ups the stakes quite a bit: rather than stopping a bad thing from happening, Bond has to figure out how to stop it from continuing to happen. Again, this also makes Spectre seem much more powerful and dangerous.

4. Have more 'characters' in Spectre
In the old films, SPECTRE included a colourful cast of reprobates along with Blofeld: Irma Bunt, Red Grant, Dr. No and Largo, among others. In this we get one beefy henchman and that's it. We don't get a sense of Spectre's layers or command structure or anything like that, no levels that Bond has to work through to deal with the organisation.

5. Make it not shit

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