This year-end, two of cinema’s biggest action series go head-to-head. The new James Bond adventure ‘Spectre’ opens November 5, swiftly followed by the JJ Abrams-directed ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ on December 17 like a big shiny Christmas present. But which one are Time Out’s nerdiest writers most excited about?
Round One: Heroes
David says: ‘Having smouldered his way through his first three Bonds, Daniel Craig may well spontaneously combust in “Spectre”. When was the last time you saw Chewbacca in a glossy print campaign for Tom Ford suits?’
Tom says: ‘We’re talking Luke, Leia, Chewbacca (who’s so achingly cool he even has natural flares) and the ultimate hipster space-pirate Han Solo. And that’s before we even get to the new guys.’
‘Star Wars’. Even if Bond was half as hip as Han, he’s still hopelessly outnumbered.
Round Two: Villains
David says: ‘He may not be playing Blofeld as initially reported, but Christoph Waltz – a man who’s built an Oscar-winning career on despicable bastards – looks a formidable foe for Craig’s angsty Bond.’
Tom says: ‘The baddies in “The Force Awakens” are The First Order – an army of goose-stepping space Nazis who grew from the ashes of the old Empire. And Adam Driver looks awesomely evil as Vader-inspired bad boy Kylo Ren.’
‘Spectre’. Christoph Waltz could eat Adam Driver for breakfast, then pick his teeth with his silly three-pronged lightsaber.
Round Three: Action
David says: ‘In the trailer alone we’ve got a supercar street race through Rome, a barrel-rolling helicopter and a speedboat on the Thames. Your move, JJ.’
Tom says: ‘You really don’t want to go trailer-to-trailer with “The Force Awakens” – Bond could drive his speedboat over Niagara Falls in a tutu and it wouldn’t be half as fun as one second of the Millennium Falcon pirouetting over the desert.’
‘Star Wars’. Because the hottest action happens in zero gravity.
Round Four: Locations
Tom says: ‘Bond’s passport will be getting inkier than a hipster’s forearms in “Spectre”, as he scowls and quips his way from the baking streets of Mexico City to the snowy mountain ranges of Austria. As confirmed by the film’s latest trailer, Rome is also on the itinerary.’
David says: ‘We know that “The Force Awakens” was at least partly shot on location in Abu Dhabi (standing in for a world that looks suspiciously like Tatooine). I’ll admit, though, that most of the film will be set on the planet Bluescreen.’
‘Spectre’. You can’t beat a bit of good honest local colour.
Round Five: Nostalgia factor
David says: ‘It may have only been three years since we last saw Daniel Craig pouting in a dinner jacket, but it’s been more than four decades since 007 faced off against the shadowy Spectre organisation (or to give it its full, wonderfully self-aware title, Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) in “Diamonds Are Forever”. Could any other series staples – cheeseball quips, Shirley Bassey – also make a comeback?’
Tom says: ‘Yes, the prequels took the edge off. But this is a chance to forget all about midichlorians, Gungans and “are you an angel?”, and get back to what “Star Wars” does best: epic space battles, goofy mysticism, wookiees, droids, the Millennium Falcon, badass princesses, ultimate evil, lightsabers, blasters and Harrison Ford grinning sideways.’
‘Star Wars’. Han’s immortal line in the trailer was ‘Chewie, we’re home.’ This December, a billion geeks will feel exactly the same way.
The winner: Star Wars
James Bond is a British institution, and we always look forward to his ice-cool foreigner-blasting antics. But the thought of welcoming back Han, Chewie and the rest of the old school ‘Star Wars’ team just warms every damn cockle we’ve got. Let’s hope the Force is still with them.