(image credit: FSR)
A tall, lanky friend of mine summed it up well when he said, “I went to see a Bond film. Instead, I saw ‘Skyfall.’” Let me charge out of the gate timidly by saying that I thought this film was fantastic. It looked great. It sounded great. With a man-beast like Daniel Craig, it probably smelled great. However, a Bond car doth not a Bond film make.
From the movie chair:
You start off with a pleasant action rush. James Bond runs around like Jason Bourne running from his own memories. He lures us into a physical chair swerving exercise with a satisfying car chase that ends up on the top of a modern Indiana Jones train scenario, and he finishes with a failed mission and a bullet to the… uh… Where was he hit exactly? When he comes back, he understandably struggles with some surrogate mommy issues (“Take the shot!”), but it’s okay because those turn out to not be such a big deal as the movie goes on. He has some issues with aiming his gun, but those disappear later, too; no harm done.
In a shocking twist to Bond films, he sleeps with a chick that he met in a fancy bar. It actually is a little on the shocking side, being as he sleeps with a girl who is a sex slave, in order to get where he needs to go. I guess a guy like that truly wouldn’t be all that heartbroken about her death, despite having a pitying facial expression at her time of passing. Once he kills a few dudes, he feels right as rain again, and the bad guy goes down… at least, that’s what those of us who don’t check our watches to see if the elapsed time matches the movie’s running time are led to believe.
Here is where all of us nerds start squirming a little bit in our seats. It is absolutely no secret that the jail and bail scene is a little… somewhat… pretty much exactly like the Joker’s jail and bail scene in “The Dark Knight.” Okay, just because he breaks out of jail does not mean that it’s a copy… Unfortunately, it’s totally a copy. I mean, a character even states that Mr. Bad Man planned to be locked up. Commissioner Gordon (freshly appointed) states that the Joker wanted to be locked up. Our “Skyfall” baddy technically makes his complete getaway via a well-placed bomb. Remember that tummy bomb the Joker set off with his one phone call? These are things that make us a little uncomfortable. Sure, it is a slightly different scene, but I’m afraid there are undeniable copy-cat-like-whoa aspects to it.
When Bond takes M off the radar and employs Hansel and Gretel navigational practices to reel in our metal-mouthed lunatic, I admit to a roll of the eyes; enter the old Aston Martin. This car is one sweet ride. It certainly hums nostalgia right out of the tailpipe when it is revved, but how is it that our current Bond knows where this thing is stored, and M does not? James Bond has a boosting record longer than Randall ‘Memphis’ Raines so, why not just steal something a little more crumb drop-ish? Really, these problems can probably be explained fairly well, but I think it just raised the cheese factor above my personal threshold for such things.
Bond shoots a bunch of guys, kills the main baddy, a major character dies, and we are left with an every-little-thing-is-gonna-be-alright ending, which my stress level approves of.
In stereotypical negative nancy flair, I’m being a bit harsh. I truly enjoyed the film. It was worth my money, and I will buy my blu-ray copy upon its release. It was exciting, entertaining, and it had plenty of hills and valleys to help you coast in and out of emotional states. The action scenes were thrilling, the plot had depth, and I thought the development of Moneypenny was quite clever. With that verbal shield in place, I deliver unto your eyeballs my biggest personal beef with “Skyfall”:
Oh, boy… I can’t tell you how utterly thrilled I was when I heard that Q was back. This is something that simply makes a Bond film a Bond film. The old Q is deceased, and a new Q (named R) replaced him. Then, there was absolutely no one for two films in a row. Now, we have the young tech-head Q. Does he deliver some cool technology? Nope. No, he is fairly pointless. He shows up, makes fun of the glorious exploding pen and leaves. They have apparently decided that James Bond, an undercover government agent, just doesn’t need silly things like technology. He doesn’t need to place an undetectable Q-tech tracking device on that boat to locate the island and make a covert arrival. This guy is good enough to just barrel in there as a full-fledged captive and hope he makes it out alive. He doesn’t need a cool new car with crazy gadgets because he has the old one locked up in his shed. He doesn’t need a fancy sniper rifle with smart bullets that can curve around a corner. He doesn’t need any gadgets! He’s all muscle; rugged, angry, tech-stupid muscle!
There you have it. Entertainment-wise, the filmmakers hit the mark. I loved the movie. Was “Skyfall” a Bond film? No, I don’t think it was. I think it was a great secret agent film that enjoyed alluding to Bond films of yesteryear. Today, Bond is more of a rugged, angry killer than a gentlemanly, fun-loving assassin. From a marketing standpoint, this change was likely a necessary one. It is the same reason that Star Trek needed to be completely refreshed. Gross sales are constantly pointing out our love for dark, action-every-five-minutes films. And it is just fine. Like anything else, it is a trend. I’m enjoying the ride. However, marketing is keeping the same names on these films and “refreshing” them, but often they are coming out of the dryer bleached and with a worse fit for those of us that enjoyed the way the old ones fit. We are being restricted from viewing new, innovative, creative stories and being constricted by a not-so-amazing Spiderman and a T-Rex that is now amazingly 3-D.
Filmmaker Side Note:
I heard/read many comments about how visually stunning “Skyfall” is. I agree. It looked fantastic. The problem: Most of these comments were followed by “…even at ONLY 2k!” This is getting a little out of hand, kids. I will be buying a Scarlet straight up very soon so, I’m all for 4k and all, but guys, resolution doth not a cinematic image make. Many of us are screaming this from the mountaintops of the earth so that everyone can hear it, but I guess some crazy jet keeps flying over at the same time to snuff out our voices (very uncool, Mr. Jet). This is the Arri Alexa we are talking about here. It has more color science packed into it than a hiker’s backpack has water. It has more dynamic range than a 5-year-old has germs. This thing is a beast (the camera, not the 5-year-old)! If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I actually prefer the image coming out of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera to that of the RED Scarlet. From everything I’ve seen on the internet and on my own computer, I would say either RED is boosting those latitude numbers ever-so slightly or Blackmagic has rounded theirs down (ignoring HDRx here). The reason I’m going with the Scarlet is chiefly because my image preference is not strong enough to ignore its relatively future-proof superpowers (in other words, I love the image only very slightly less than the BMCC). For me, it just makes more financial sense. For you, it may not make financial sense right now, and if that is the case, you should be very proud to own that BMCC. It is one incredible piece of gear, and I fully agree with the “baby Alexa” nickname for it. Unless they have something better come along, I’ll probably end up buying a BMCC as my B-cam. I think my point here is that we are resolution spoiled now. We think 4k has become a standard, but it is still barely used as a deliverable, and believe me, the end consumer has ZERO clue what 4k or “UltraHD” is or why it’s better or why they should pay money for it. Consumers will dictate the speed of this movement, and until they have been educated, filmmakers need to remember that 2k is still a lot of resolution when Canon isn’t allowed to touch it. Basically, buy a BMCC and go shoot a “Skyfall.”
So, what do you guys think of “Skyfall”? Is my brain full of cotton, or did you experience the same love/WHAAA? that I did?
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