Spectral (2016) Review

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Who are you gonna call?

Spectral (2016): 8 out of 10: Spectral is about American special forces fighting the remnants of government troops during a civil war in Moldova. During the battle, the special forces are attacked by what appears to be ghosts and call on a DARPA scientist (James Badge Dale) to come investigate and help the US Army counteract this new threat.

This is a minute away from James Badge Dale saying, “Is this your card?”

The Good

The Good: Spectral pulls off a neat trick. It is a movie about science and technology and the hard-working scientists behind it. Despite all the hoo-rah action scenes, it is the thinking men that will get them out of this mess. The movie sets this tone well and keeps it throughout the film.

I could fill this review just with silly expressions from James Badge Dale

That Spectral does this without talking down to the audience too much is an amazing feat. It matches the solid acting across the board and a solid science fiction foundation with a good pace and good action scenes.

The Black Hawk Down portion of the film.

The film manages some very nice set pieces with good practical effects mixed with the CGI.

The effects are solid in this film throughout.

The Bad

The Bad: If one goes a looking there might be a plot hole or two. (You need a hundred laser cannons using brand new tech? I am going to need half an hour and some duct tape).In addition, while the film certainly uses science throughout, I wouldn’t exactly quote some of those theories on Friday’s physics exam.

And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit.

Actual citizens of Moldova can also feel free to criticize the wrong city, wrong language, and ridiculous description of your government.

This movie has destruction porn to spare.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: Though marketed as a Netflix original; Netflix actually picked Spectral up on the cheap from Universal/Legendary who was unhappy with all the science stuff and possibly realized too late that Emily Mortimer is not going to open a summer blockbuster.

Emily Mortimer has the charisma of slightly warmed milky tea in this film.

That said, one can certainly see the not inconsiderable budget on the screen. How Universal shelved this film and opened The Mummy is a mystery for another day. Solid Sci-fi actioner with an elevator script sounding like a cross between Black Hawk Down and Aliens. A fun film that is better than one might suspect.

The movie had access to all sorts of real military hardware for the film and made excellent use of it.
Spectral uses cool color tones of blue and green very effectively.
Hahaha… I like this.
The sets (or locations) are surprisingly vast and varied.
Spectral really nails the Delta Force look.
I am not playing a terrorist? States surprised actor.
We love us some Bruce Greenwood.
Here is what I don’t understand. As of 2020, this is writer/director Nic Mathieu’s only film. Now I understand it was a box office non-event, but that is hardly his fault. The movie is very well written and directed. I am shocked he hasn’t found more work.
I do think the movie could have used a bankable action star in one of its Delta Force roles. Max Martini does a great job, but he is hardly a household name.
What exactly are those pipe cutouts on the side of his helmet supposed to be. Prop guy gluing all sorts of nonsense on there.
All right, one more silly expression from James Badge Dale
Oh right, this is a ghost film.
A little girl who survived on her own when all the adults were killed? What could we call her?
I am going to go with Newt.
I like this screenshot simply for Newt on the soldier’s shoulder.
The library has tanks
Wait, make that three tanks.
Okay, three tanks and soldiers.
And a helicopter… hold on this may not have gone as planned.
Is that Max Martini’s real ear or is that a detailed make-up effect?
This shot reminds me of those Potemkin village cutouts they used to put in burned out buildings in the South Bronx so Metro North passengers would think the city was doing better than it was.
Spectral does a fantastic job creating a burned out war zone with both CGI and practical effects.
You know I was doing a screenshot capture on 2012’s Safe House, which is also a very good smart thriller. But every shot was in the dark or out of focus. I did not have that issue with Spectral, where every frame is a painting.
We got all sorts of guns in this joint.
You need big guns against ghost dragons.
While Ursula Parker pulls of Newt, the same cannot be said for Emily Mortimer as Ripley
If you look to the right, you can see that the DARPA Robotics Challenge has started early.
Emily Mortimer does look cute in some scenes.
This would have made a better Ghostbusters reboot.
Who are you gonna call indeed?
I have more pretty screenshots than witty quotes… in fact, I ran out of witty quotes about ten screenshots ago. Spectral is a superb underrated movie and for god’s sake someone let Nic Mathieu make another movie. Give him a Marvel Hero or something.
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