Tonight I watched the latest Bond film on DVD. I had prepared for it by watching the previous Daniel Craig Bond films last week. It is undeniably spectacular, with lots of things you would expect from a Bond film – car chases, boat chases, epic stunts, arch-villian set on world domination, secreat HQ for the arch-villain, etc. etc. but it still doesn’t entirely feel like a proper Bond film.
I think the reason is all to do with the way the franchise has gone since the re-boot. Previously the films were all self-contained. There were recurring characters, though they were often played by totally different actors, and recurring motifs, but no continuity of story. You could watch the first twenty Bond films in any order really, but from Casino Royale onwards the fims have been part of a longer story arc. You need to have watched Casino Royale to properly get Quantum of Solace, and so on.
Spectre tie them all together, when Blofeld admits to his involvement in events from the other films and this seems to be the way things are expected to be now. It is the same with Doctor Who where there are story arcs across a whole series. In a way it is quite ironic because we are always told how short our attention spans are these days and yet such franchises now rely on you remembering the events from earlier episodes.
I find it less satisfying because the climax of the film does not feel as climactic whe you know it is just the set-up for the next sequel. That is what spoiled Quantum of Solace for me: it felt like the whole purpose of the story was to get from Casino Royale to Skyfall rather than having its own story to tell – in other words it was the Star Trek III of the Bond franchise.