'Spectre' Early Buzz: Daniel Craig's James Bond Is Back, And He's Better/Worse/About The Same As Ever

The first reviews for Spectre have begun to trickle out of the United Kingdom, where the latest James Bond adventure opens nearly two weeks before it makes its North American bow. As you'd expect from a series that has such a passionate following – every movie fan has a different idea of what a 007 film should be – the reviews have been all over the place. Some critics say it's as good as Skyfall! While others say that, ugh, it's only as good as Skyfall.

While the responses have been generally all over the place, most of them lean positive and there are more than a few raves. At the very least, everyone agrees that Daniel Craig remains a top-notch Bond, even if the movie he's is a little too long or if director Sam Mendes' action a little too bombastic.

Check out some of the early Spectre reviews for yourself after the jump.

Like many of the reviews, Variety praised the film's elaborate opening sequence, which finds Bond fighting his way through (and over) a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. It's nice to see that this series, now 24 films deep, still tries to find unique ways to open with a bang:

Consequently, there's a little more room in "Spectre" for Bond's customary hobbies — globe-trotting, red-blooded lady-killing and cold-blooded not-lady-killing — than in the comparatively contemplative "Skyfall." The tone is set by an enthrallingly, expensively ludicrous opening sequence, set in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, that ranks among the great 007 intros. Weaving through the jubilant masses, Hoyte van Hoytema's dust-veiled camera alights on Bond in masked skeleton costume, luring a local bombshell ("Miss Bala's" Stephanie Sigman) back to his hotel room before the quickest of quick changes finds him suited, booted and planting a hit on venal Italian mafioso Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) from the rooftop. Cue explosions, architectural carnage and vertigo-inducing physical combat in a helicopter careering perilously over the city's crowded Zocalo square.

Meanwhile, The Guardian praised the film's ability to mesh big action and messy politics, mentioning a certain name that will undoubtedly set comment sections all over the internet on fire:

If nothing else, the spelling of the title should tip you off that this is a thoroughly English movie franchise. Bond is back and Daniel Craig is back in a terrifically exciting, spectacular, almost operatically delirious 007 adventure – endorsing intelligence work as old-fashioned derring-do and incidentally taking a stoutly pro-Snowden line against the creepy voyeur surveillance that undermines the rights of a free individual. It's pure action mayhem with a real sense of style.

Den of Geek is less effusive in its praise, but their review is still very positive. Craig's performance is the highlight, they say, as the whole film never comes together quite as well as Skyfall did:

Often sublimely, sometimes awkwardly, Spectre contrasts harshness and humour, violence and suspense, warmth and stark coldness. The ingredients that go into the Bond formula don't hang together quite as successfully here as they did in Skyfall, and at 148 minutes, Spectre feels a touch too long. But Spectre more than satisfies as a big-screen spectacle, and among the superb performances from the top-notch cast, it's Craig who again carries the day. His Bond is reliably flinty and dangerous, yet he also gives us the impression that every exploit the agent's lived through is bearing down on his soul.

A few reviews mention the 148-minute running time being a touch (or a firm poke) too long and IndieWire is among them. However, their review also lavishes praise on the supporting cast, including Dave Bautista's henchman and Lea Seodoux's female lead:

In places, it works well. The two and a half hour runtime is indulgent, but Mendes does at least make "Spectre" move quickly. Craig's clearly having fun with a slightly looser, less grim-faced Bond, while pulling off the action with his usual crunchy aplomb. "Guardians Of The Galaxy" star Dave Bautista has a ton of screen presence as an exquisitely tailored, near-mute henchman fashioned after Oddjob or Jaws, and his big throwdown with Bond on a North African train is easily the best set piece in the film. And Lea Seydoux is easily the film's highlight, taking her place alongside Eva Green as the best of the modern-era female leads in the franchise. Compared to Vesper Lynd, her Madeleine Swann is underwritten, but Seydoux does a lot to flesh her out, and has tons of chemistry with Craig, even if she's served a duff hand by the film's climax.

But what about Christoph Waltz, playing a main villain who has been shrouded in mystery (even though every serious Bond fan can tell you all about him)? The Telegraph has mostly kind things to say about him and also finds time to comment on how well Craig has aged into the 007 role:

Much speculation has swirled around the film's main villain, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), and the particulars of his agenda won't be mentioned here, but suffice it to say: despite the globe-encircling master plan, this time, it's truly personal. Waltz occasionally dices with camp, but mostly underplays what's essentially a ridiculous role, deploying a blank serenity that's truly chilling in key scenes, including his first appearance in the Spectre boardroom, silhouetted against a column of golden light. Craig, meanwhile, captains Bond into a majestically craggy middle age, bringing a mature, clenched physicality to the chase and combat scenes, and even allowing himself the odd crumpled smirk after a deadpan quip.

One of the most mixed reviews currently out there comes from Hey U Guys, who say that Spectre's direct connections to the previous films of the Craig era ultimately do more harm than good:

Suffering in a similar vein to Quantum of Solace, which followed on (in a narrative sense) to the preceding Casino Royale – Spectre isn't as accomplished a feature as Skyfall was, and perhaps should have avoided connecting up to what came before, which tends not to work well in Bond, generally better when left as entirely unique, self-contained pictures. Spectre may be the most expensive Bond ever made, and is even the longest too – but sadly, it's by no means the most fulfilling.

Spectre arrives in U.K. cinemas on October 26, 2015. The plebes over in America have to wait until November 6, 2015, so watch your back, internet. There will be spoilers afoot.