Spectral Review

Spectral is a 2016 science fiction action thriller film directed by Nic Mathieu, starring James Badge Dale (The Lone Ranger), Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island), Max Martini (Pacific Rim), and Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek).  The story follows an engineer who teams up with an elite Special Ops unit to stop a otherworldly force who is wreaking havoc on a war-torn European city.


Positives:

  • Good performances
  • Good cast
  • Great story
  • Great action
  • Good direction
  • Good score

Negatives:

  • Lackluster characters
  • Obvious CGI

Plot:  The story follows an engineer who teams up with an elite Special Ops unit to stop a otherworldly force who is wreaking havoc on a war-torn European city.  The story itself is pretty interesting, something that you’d normally see on the SyFy channel done rather poorly.  But that is not the case with this film.  The plot progresses at a really good pace, especially with the idea that the military is fighting ghost.  However, the story does a great job of revealing what this otherworldly force is, what’s its source, and its characteristics.  From the moment the action begins it just maintains gripping and suspenseful. What we get is a great reveal as well as an awesome climatic battle that does leave off on a satisfying note.  (4 out of 5)

Characters:  There are some interesting, likable characters.  The main protagonist is Dr. Mark Clyne (Dale), an expert of the hyperspectral imaging goggles.  Accompanying him into Moldova’s war torn capital is CIA officer Fran Madison (Mortimer) and the leader of Delta Force Major Sessions (Martini).  The three characters are decent and they do work well together.  However, Madison feels almost as a shoe in as she doesn’t really contribute much to the story.  I did like the Slovenian siblings Sari (Parker) and Lewis (O’Neal).  They were a great motivating factor to Delta Squad. Liked General Orland (Greenwood), thought he was pretty cool though he doesn’t really do much of anything. (3 out of 5)

Cast: The casting and performances are pretty good.  James Badge Dale is probably the most standout of the actors.  The supporting cast includes Stephen Root (Dr. Mindala), Emily Mortimer (Madison), Max Martini (Sessions), Bruce Greenwood (Orland), Clayne Crawford (Toll), Cory Hardrict (Alessio) Louis Ozawa Changchien (Chen), Jimmy Akingbola (McFadden), Philip Bulcock (Davis), Royce Pierreson (Diaz), Ursula Parker (Sari), and Mark O’Neal (Lewis). (3 out of 5)

Visuals:  First, the film is just a visually good looking film.  There is definitely a good budget behind it.  The set pieces are pretty good as well as the costume designs.  But the highlight of the film are the “apparitions”.  The designs look cool and the special effects of the “apparitions” is to be commended.  Admittedly there are times where the CGI is obvious. How the creatures are utilized as well as their abilities looks great.  Even when it comes to the advanced weaponry and technology. (4 out of 5)

Score:  The soundtrack is freaking awesome thanks to Junkie XL and the execution is definitely on point.  Does a great job with keeping the action scenes fast paced and intense.  (3 out of 5)

Writing:  Nic Mathieu deserves praised for making such a good movie.  True, the idea isn’t original, but the execution and various elements construct a solid movie.  There is the pacing that does take the time to help focus on characters and slowly establish the plot.  And when the action takes off, it takes off.  Though the movie is simple in premise, the writing does become more complex as the events of the film progress.  The action scenes are well paced and edge-of-your-seat gripping.  However, for those who think of setting as a must; the idea behind the apparitions, their abilities, and their origins is a pretty unique and interesting one.  Even when it comes to the technology used to combat them is pretty well thought out.  (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Spectral is not only a great science fiction movie but also one of the best movies of 2016.  Despite the lack of character depth for most of the characters and some of the spotty CGI, the movie features a good cast, good performances, good special effects, great action, good score, and good directing by Mathieu.  Spectral gets 4 out of 5.

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