7/10 Another one of the early Netflix films that I wasn’t even aware existed (in my defense it did drop only one month after the 2016 election so my mind was most likely between the election and Christmas), “Spectral” is also a film I have never heard anyone talk about, but perhaps they should. By no means a great film, “Spectral” is a good film that warrants your time if you find yourself needing something new to watch in quarantine. The lone film of writer/director Nic Mathieu, on paper alone this is impressive in terms of the creative talent involved. The cast has James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, Bruce Greenwood, Max Martini and more. The score is also done by Junkie XL (“Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Deadpool”), who has crafted some memorable tunes in his time as a Hollywood composer. Mathieu knows how to put together creative talent and that comes across here. The visual effects are an extremely important part of the film’s believability and in determining if the story works or not and since this film had a $70 million dollar budget, the visual effects do just that. The look of the film is one of the highlights on display here. Everything from the ruins of Europe to the ghost like creatures our protagonists battle against all look fantastic. The action is well done and having the enemies in this film be capable of superhuman feats sure raises the stakes during combat. As an infantry Marine veteran myself, I was happy to see that a lot of the military/combat elements of the film were accurate and well done, which many Hollywood films cannot say for themselves. The plot is a rather intriguing one that holds your attention and Junkie XL’s subtle yet effective score paired with the solid editing and pace make this a film that grabs your attention from start to finish. As for the aspects that don’t quite work, they mainly involve the script. There are several “ex machina” moments where some force comes in to save the day at the last moment. Some convenient coincidences pop up and how our heroes are able to defeat their enemies at the end was a bit underwhelming. The biggest complaint however deals with the characters themselves. All of the supporting characters have no personalities and even our leads, although likeable, don’t stand out and all feel pretty bland and forgettable. In the end, polishing up the script to make these heroes we spend time with more fleshed out would have greatly benefitted the film but that doesn’t detract from this being a good movie. The look and tone, performances, score, tension and action will entertain you with its futuristic setting. Worth a watch if you are hankering for something new.
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