This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation shows Snoopy and Charlie Brown from Charles Schulz's timeless "Peanuts" comic strip in their big-screen debut in a CG-animated feature film in 3D, "The Peanuts Movie." The movie releases in U.S. theaters Nov. 6, 2015. (Blue Sky Animation/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation via AP)

This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation shows Snoopy and Charlie Brown from Charles Schulz's timeless "Peanuts" comic strip in their big-screen debut in a CG-animated feature film in 3D, "The Peanuts Movie." The movie releases in U.S. theaters Nov. 6, 2015. (Blue Sky Animation/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation via AP)

Reeling it in: Nostalgia on the silver screen with Bond, Peanuts

This weekend was about nostalgia. It was about revisiting properties that have been producing on-screen entertainment since before I was born. And, despite the longevity of both of these series, it was about trepidation as to whether they could pull it out one more time. The answer? Yes and no, but mostly yes.

“The Peanuts Movie”

Twentieth Century Fox

1 hour, 28 minutes

“The Peanuts Movie” was my daughter’s birthday outing with her friends and, as far as a group of elementary kids are concerned, it was a smashing success. Telling a simple tale, “Peanuts” chronicles one school year in the life of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and co.

The film begins with the momentous arrival in town of The Little Red-Haired Girl and follows our poor hero as he attempts to gain her attention. In the background, the gang is going through the usual motions. Snoopy is daydreaming, Lucy is bossing, and Linus is philosophizing. The story goes pretty much where you’d expect and that’s a good thing. It’s sweet, affirming, and familiar.

I’ve read a lot of complaints about this film because it didn’t take risks and didn’t try to do anything new with the characters. That, to me, is not a fair criticism. We don’t want to see these characters defined through the eyes of a new generation. I don’t want to see an acerbic Charlie Brown or a video gaming Linus. I don’t want to see Lucy blogging or Sally coveting a new iPhone. To see these characters as old or out of style is to fundamentally misunderstand what makes them great. They are timeless. Even the music, for the most part, says everything it needs to without pinning it to a particular time period. Jazz is jazz.

I really enjoyed revisiting these characters, and the first thing my kids wanted to do when we got home was look up the old specials. News flash. There are a lot more of them than I remembered. We watched one last night from 1980 where Snoopy spends the entire half-hour dreaming that he was an Alaskan sled dog.

If you wanted something to criticize about “The Peanut Movie” you could look at the translation from the shaky pen and ink of Charles Schulz to the fully rounded 3D computer generated renderings on-screen. For the most part, this is done very carefully and a lot of attention is paid to trying to pair the two styles neatly. Actually, it works much better than I would have imagined, except in one jarring instance. The characters’ hair is done well in the case of the girls, and most of the boys, but on Linus it’s a nightmare. Wiry and oddly patchy, it makes Linus look less like tousle-headed little boy and more like a mental patient on the run. I can only imagine the animators simply ran out of time, because this issue seems jarringly obvious, especially in light of how good the rest of the film looks.

It’s something you just have to learn to overlook, however, because everything else about the movie is spot on. Funny and heartwarming, it was a delightful way to spend an evening with family and friends. Charles Schulz would approve.

Grade: A-

“The Peanuts Movie” is rated G.

“Spectre”

Columbia Pictures

2 hours, 28 minutes

“Spectre,” on the other hand, is not quite as successful. That’s not to say it’s bad, just not my favorite.

The latest 007 outing has been highly anticipated, especially considering Daniel Craig’s assertions that he’d rather “slash his wrists” than play James Bond again. Who knows if this is Craig’s last time in the saddle, but if it is, I’m going to be extra disappointed that it’s the lesser of his four films that drove him out.

“Spectre” opens with James in Mexico, tracking a mysterious terrorist. After the dust settles, we find that, as usual, he’s been acting without authority. This time, however, it’s serious. In this new age of digital surveillance, the dapper spy with a license to kill has become obsolete. MI6 and MI5 have been combined in the wake of the bombing at the end of “Skyfall,” and the new head of intelligence is gunning for the 00 program.

James, however, has hit upon a shadow criminal empire, one whose tentacles spread across the globe, and apparently across the landscape of Bond’s life. That organization, SPECTRE, has apparently been behind the activities of the last three films, and it’s personal connection to James Bond himself could bring his world crashing down around him.

“Spectre” is, in many ways, typical James Bond. There are beautiful women, dangerous villains, exotic locales and fancy gadgets. Like “Peanuts,” there is no attempt to go anywhere new with the franchise. That I don’t mind, although James Bond could handle an update far better than Charlie Brown could.

What I do mind is that many of the Bond tropes feel rote in this film. A much touted turn as a new, older Bond girl by Monica Bellucci is reduced to a quick scene that seemed almost silly in it’s urgency to cram in the Bondisms.

Also, the attempt to tie this film together with the last three feels a bit ham-handed. At several points in the film, James Bond is presented with photographs of his previous three adversaries, almost as if the movie is saying, “Hey, remember that guy from that other one? Yeah, it was really Spectre!”

What does work is the excellent cinematography highlighting, as usual, the beautiful locales these films shoot in. Also, I very much enjoyed Dave Bautista’s turn as the deadly Mr. Hinx, a return to the iconic henchmen of years past.

“Spectre” is certainly worth seeing, and I’ve seen far worse Bond films. Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery, and the most fully fleshed-out version of the character we’ve ever had. But of the Craig films, “Spectre” was my least favorite — perhaps because I was anticipating it so much.

Grade: B-

“Spectre” is rated PG-13 for violence, a scene of torture, and mild sexual situations.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

In this image released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions, Daniel Craig appears in a scene from the James Bond film, "Spectre." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Nov. 6, 2015. (Jonathan Olley/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions via AP)

In this image released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions, Daniel Craig appears in a scene from the James Bond film, “Spectre.” The movie releases in U.S. theaters on Nov. 6, 2015. (Jonathan Olley/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions via AP)

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