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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Nov 11: Skyfall


Nov 11: Skyfall

"Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost."
Directed by: Sam Mendes, Rated: PG-13, 143 minutes

James Bond is not only an icon of cinema, but a symbol of masculinity, badass everything, and more suave than ten Old Spice commercials. Six men have portrayed Bond on the big screen over his 50 year history, and we've seen dozens of memorable villains and even sexier Bond girls. In 2006, Daniel Craig, a man many doubted capable, took on the role of James Bond in Casino Royale. Not only was Craig looked at as a rather unorthodox Bond (blonde and blue eyed) but he was a grittier, darker, more vulnerable man than previous incarnations. Casino Royale took the franchise into an entirely different direction and proved to be not only an excellent Bond flick, but an even better stand alone movie. Then came Quantum of Solace. The filmmakers hoped to continue the same story from Casino Royale with Quantum, but were unable to put it all together. The film suffered from a weak script and was a bit more dumbed down than the smarter Casino Royale. Quantum was quickly forgotten and MGM, the studio behind Bond, ran into a ton of financial problems and put the Bond franchise in jeopardy. Four years later, in the 50th anniversary year of Bond, Skyfall is released. And good God is it in incredible.

Before we go any further, I must also mention that Adele's sultry voice and Bond's extreme badassness make sweet sweet love in Skyfall's theme song. 

When the evil Silva (Javier Bardem) hacks into MI6, compromising the entire security of both England and the secret agents in the field, M (Judi Dench) is put front and center as Silva's prime target. Bond, who was believed to be killed in action during a mission, "returns from the dead" to help his dear M, and uncovers more secrets than he could ever imagine. Skyfall manages to tell a very well-crafted story that's much smarter and packed with emotion than most Blockbusters. It elevates itself above the generic action flick and just as Casino Royale did, it is able to be just as strong as a stand alone film as it is a Bond movie. Craig continues to deliver an exceptional performance as Bond and shows his vulnerabilities even further. After his "resurrection", he's a broken man, mentally and physically. He can barely hold a gun and his aim is terrible, yet he returns to action to help M. Of course, Bond is never alone in his missions, and he's aided by Bond girls, Eve (Naomi Harris) and Severine (Berenice Marlohe), and MI6 employees, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) and gadget king, Q (Ben Whishaw).

"What did you expect, an exploding pen?"- Q is a modern man of today. 

Skyfall is a powerful entry in the Bond franchise. It goes into territory previous Bond movies never even thought about treading into and blows you away. We see all sorts of new places and have plenty of reveals along the way. And while Skyfall feels grand and epic on a scale only fit for Bond, it tells a very simple story with so much more depth and emotion than what we have come to expect. The biggest focus throughout the movie is the relationship between Bond and M, and the history behind 007 himself. Much credit needs to be given to both Daniel Craig and Judi Dench for their performances. They work so well together and the dynamic between the two is that of respect, fun, and family. Even as often as the two bicker about one another, they both would go to the very end for each other. But, you cannot have a memorable Bond movie without a great villain and Javier Bardem creates a character immediately iconic in Silva. He's a twisted, yet genius, man that is driven by revenge. He's not out to take over the world as much as he's out to inflict as much pain on one particular individual, and he'll go whatever length to make that happen. He dances the fine line between maniac and genius and proves to be just as humorous as he is sinister. With bleached blonde hair and a rather eccentric personality, Silva can sit side by side with the great villains of Bond's past.

A complicated man, with more than enough to bring you nightmares. 

Seeing as this is 007's 23rd film in his 50 year history, there's a lot of ground that you would think would have to be covered. While Casino Royale jump-started Bond into a new timeline with Craig, there have always been slight nods to the past films. With Skyfall, this is no exception and if anything, the movie runs with these homages to the past in glorious fashion. For any seasoned Bond fan, there's plenty to be enjoyed and even more to look for, but even those of us who are just the occasional 007 lover or even first timers, there are still many things you would understand, as Bond has penetrated our culture through more than just film. Without giving much away, I can tell you that Skyfall is the perfect anniversary film for Bond and manages to create new memories and iconic characters, while still calling back to the past without taking too much away. Everything is done in respect or in little mentions and I can only assume would lead to more things being "caught" with additional viewings.

Well look at that little guy in the background!

Skyfall is an exceptional film that crosses into all sorts of territory. It's a film for movie-lovers, as well as Bond-fanatics, and is much more than an over-the-top action movie. Craig's hero is a man we can relate to, much more than previous incarnations, and in the gritty realism he suffers for, we're just as worried about his safety as we would any other man. He reminds us time and again that he's far from immortal, and severely flawed, but when the pain hits home, he's a man to be reckoned with. Director Sam Mendes captures this realism with beauty and blends it into the gorgeous backdrops and scenery. Skyfall is a must see for any fan of incredible storytelling and in your face action. Even at 142 minutes, it never falters or feels that long, and each moment we, as the audience, spend with Bond, the more we understand his troubled life and strong resolve. The entirety of what plays out is both entertaining and heart-breaking and manages to create an entirely new story about a fifty year old icon we have come to love and understand for so long. So lift up your martinis to James Bond and hope that the next fifty years are just as exciting as the last. He's here to stay and Craig will continue to do 007 justice. 

The Good:
terrific visuals that accompany a very somber, yet thrilling story
The Better:
more than enough references to Bond's past, from particular gadgets or cars, to even iconic lines
The Best:
performances from the entire cast, with Craig, Dench, and Bardem carrying the film into greatness

Overall: 9.5/10

Discussion Question:
Craig is signed on for two more Bond movies, but who do you think could take on the role once he's done? And where would the franchise head?


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At November 11, 2012 at 6:44 PM , Blogger Ries said...

Great review, Nick. I couldn't agree more about Skyfall - I thought it was the best Bond yet and the acting was spot on. Sam Mendes was a great pick.

At November 12, 2012 at 12:34 AM , Blogger Mavi@filmscope said...

Nick probably your best review yet, and although I disagree quite a bit you made me want to give it another go.

Its not that I hated it, its the fact that I feel we are heading in the wrong direction again with Bond, Casino Royale still the best bond because of its realism the sense of pain, Bond was vulnerable, but here it attempt to keep a dark sense of realism but keeps crossing over into the ridiculousness. Maybe I have been over picky in my review but its the little this that make a film for me and there are to many little this here, that used as a plot device to drive a 2hr 20min story, when in fact the writers could have made it tighter, even if it was shorter.

At November 12, 2012 at 12:41 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks. And yeah, I was really surprised at how epic Mendes turned the film into.

At November 12, 2012 at 12:44 AM , Blogger Nick said...

I can understand the tightening up of the script, but I never thought it felt too long. There was never a moment of me thinking that I needed the movie to end, in fact the opposite happened. I wanted more and still do of Craig as Bond and cannot wait to see where it goes next.

I think also that you've had some time to sit on it an dwell on it a bit longer. Just like with The Dark Knight Rises, I was full of adrenaline after seeing it but after a few days, it wore off a bit. I expect the same thing with Skyfall but am still confident in how glorious it really is. If you noticed, I only gave it 0.2 points higher than Casino Royale, and perhaps over the next couple of days, those scores may even out.

Thank you for the compliment on the review as well. I'm pretty proud of it (although re-reading it had me catch way too many errors lol).

At November 12, 2012 at 2:56 AM , OpenID said...

"It goes into territory previous Bond movies never even thought about treading into and blows you away."

This is why I liked it so much. It had all the stuff to make it feel like a Bond film but then so much more that made it feel fresh and new. The cinematography, for one, was stunning and made it stand out from pretty much every other Bond film in this respect. Also, Silva's opening scene, all in one take was immense. And the sexual tension between him and Bond is something that would never even have been attempted pre-Craig.

At November 12, 2012 at 10:14 AM , Blogger Nick said...

That's a very good point about any of that sexual tension. It was teased a bit and would never be in anything of the past. Just makes Silva more memorable. And yes, his entrance is oh so glorious.

At November 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM , Anonymous Daniel Prinn said...

Awesome review, Nick. I'm fairly unfamiliar with the franchise, but I really enjoyed this one. There's a whole lot to love.

At November 12, 2012 at 5:39 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Indeed there is. You need to backtrack now and watch all the older ones.

At November 12, 2012 at 6:16 PM , Anonymous Daniel Prinn said...

Is the first of the franchise Dr. No?

At November 12, 2012 at 6:23 PM , Blogger Nick said...

It is. But I meant even watching Casino Royale.

At November 12, 2012 at 8:09 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

Nick, I know you are not a Bond addict like so many of us, but you nailed some of the really fine points about this film. The relationship between Bond and M, the awesome fury of Silva as he seeks his revenge, and the homages to Bonds past. I've seen the film a few times already and it has great repeatability to it. Craig is grim, but has some humorous moments, none of which go over the top. The opening sequence is a great stunt based action scene and if it uses CGI it is minimal and not noticeable. You forgot to mention the new second greatest Bond theme ever, Adele is terrific with the vocals and the tone is modern with a clear genealogy to theme songs from the past.Everything is reset for straight 007 adventures in the immediate future. Craig is set for the next five years at least so it is hard to project that far down the road, there is some young actor out there right now, making films or trying to who is on the 007 path and they don't know it yet. This was the 50th anniversary and I'm ready for 50 more. Come by and see my thoughts if you get a chance.

At November 13, 2012 at 10:31 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Thank you, Richard. As for the theme, I mentioned it very quickly in one of the captions, but nothing too fancy. It certainly is great and pairing Adele up with Bond is perfect. I am too also looking forward to seeing where Craig and Bond go next.


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