New James Bond Pics From SPECTRE

Here are a couple of brand-new images from “Spectre,” the 24th film in the James Bond franchise. It once again stars Daniel Craig as 007, this time joined by Léa Seydoux. Sam Mendes, who directed the highly regarded SkyFall, returns to the director’s chair once more. This movie formally introduces SPECTRE to the rebooted Bond universe.

Take a look at that chess board in front of Bond. Is he playing a real game? The board and pieces appear to be covered in dust. And, more importantly, the white queen is on a square adjacent to the black king. How the hell did that happen? Bond’s opponent is sacrificing his queen rather than killing Bond’s king!

In this film, a message from Bond’s past sets him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind Spectre.

Spectre also stars Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, David Bautista and Andrew Scott.

Spectre opens Nov. 6.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 represents not only the creative zenith of the entire series, it is easily one of the most satisfying films of 2011 – and stands among the very best examples of fantasy filmmaking.

Director David Yates, the wizard behind the final four films, is masterfully in control here, setting an elegiac tone from the very beginning, with a muted color palette in eerie tableaux like Hogwarts surrounded by eerie floating Dementors who are just…waiting. The story sees Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) trying to complete the mission begun in the previous film, to destroy the Horcruxes – mystical objects that hold pieces of Lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul – so Voldemort can be killed before the villain murders Harry. That relatively straightforward plot ignites an intricately interlocking and exciting story that builds to a Brobdingnagian battle for Hogwarts – and Harry’s life – at the movie’s climax. The magical war is fought with stellar visual effects and swooping, looping cameras that propel viewers into a thicket of crackling curses and tumbling rubble. The dragon is amazing, the fights look as realistic as magic ever could, seamlessly blending CGI and live actors.
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Review: Clash of the Titans (2010): Crackin’ on the Kraken

Clash of Titans is one of those remakes that was in no way really necessary, but with a stubbornness that would make Zeus proud, Hollywood went ahead and did it anyway – and the result demonstrates the folly of messing with movie gods like special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen.

Even more than featuring Laurence Olivier playing the king of the gods and Harry Hamlin in a toga, the 1981 original is known for Harryhausen’s legendary stop-motion animation effects. In his final feature, Harryhausen animated Calibos, Medusa, the Kraken and all the rest by hand; he more than just a true craftsman, he was an artist with puppets. There was no reason to remake this movie unless the effects were going to completely blow the classics out of the water – and that just does not happen in the 2010 version. Granted, the computer-generated creatures move a lot more quickly and smoothly, and yes, the giant scorpions look impressive, but – why are there giant scorpions in this movie? More importantly, the creatures that Harryhausen lovingly brought to life frame-by-torturous-frame had a sense of personality that soulless CGI lacks. The ballyhooed 3D effects (tacked on as an afterthought following the runaway success of Avatar, at the expense of delaying release) add absolutely nothing to the viewing experience. The movie was not filmed with the intention of utilizing 3D all along, so the effects clearly are not used to best…er, effect.
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