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Old 11-09-2012, 09:56 PM   #151
shape22
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I checked out Skyfall in IMAX last night.

First things first. It's a huge step in the right direction. Forster seemed to want to change everything about the Bond series in QoS. But Mendes is clearly a big fan of the series. Skyfall repeatedly honors the past--especially the Connery era--without doing anything that would bring the film to a halt for newbies. I knew we'd see Sean's Aston Martin DB5 from the trailers. But I'm pleased to report it makes more than a cameo. And it was pretty thrilling to see it take such a prominent role. Fortunately it's just one example of the many slick shout outs to the cinematic Bond's glorious past.

The shaky cam choppy action style is largely gone too. The editing of the impressive opening sequence is still a little too frenetic for my tastes. But Mendes makes great use of the wide establishing shot action style that the series pioneered and perfected over the years. And the added clarity gives the superior set pieces a lot more impact.

The trailers made it pretty clear that this was going to be a striking-looking film. And Roger Deakins's digital photography is truly a sight to behold. All of the locations look spectacular. And they serve as more than window dressing. They're very effectively incorporated into the film--particularly the Shanghai skyline in a brutal, silhouetted fight scene near the top of a high-rise.

I can also give highest marks to Javier Bardem's flamboyant Silva. He doesn't appear until well after the halfway mark. But his presence is felt throughout the film--which really builds anticipation. And it all pays off with a grand entrance and a sharp introductory monologue. It's a big, scene-stealing performance by Bardem, who clearly had a ball with the role. He even threatens Bond in a personal manner that's new to the series. Silva's like a gleeful, homocidal Liberace.

Unfortunately, it's not all good. I think Eon has lost sight of the true lasting appeal of this series--the incredible escapist fun it offered. This is yet-another chapter of "Becoming Bond"--with weighty issues concerning Bond's unresolved childhood traumas and his relationship with M looming large. I haven't seen many critics make mention of the fact that this plays very much like the concluding chapter in a prequel trilogy. But that's exactly how it functions.

And Bond is a very dour character again--disillusioned, bitter, and struggling to cope with his responsibilities. And although that probably makes him a more realistic character, it doesn't make him a more INTERESTING one. I saw Mendes say that The Dark Knight strongly influenced his work on Skyfall. But the grounded doom of the Nolan Batman universe doesn't seem as appropriate for James Bond.

I've been a big supporter of Daniel Craig. But after Skyfall I find myself wondering "is this all there is?" Craig is clearly a fantastic actor. And I still think he has the potential to approach Connery's greatness. But in order to do that he has to capture the true essence of the cinematic character. Bond should be a nearly imperturbable force. He shouldn't succumb to the pressures of his job the way Craig's Bond does in QoS and Skyfall. Connery's performances in From Russia With Love and Goldfinger made it clear that Bond was deeply affected by the deaths of Kerim Bey and Jill and Tilly Masterson--and that someone was damn well going to pay if he had his way. But he didn't carry around all that angst like an anvil. He kept moving forward and did the job.

For me at least, Bond's great appeal is that he's almost inhuman. He can overcome any obstacle and any loss. He's not a normal person. He walks the line of being a superhero--with inhuman control of his emotions and vulnerabilities. That's why Tracy's death in OHMSS is so devastating. It melted the granite facade he was able to maintain through so many other personal tragedies. But Craig's Bond is ALWAYS recoiling from the inevitable losses his job requires him to face. In my opinion at least, the series can't sustain this direction any longer. How do they keep manufacturing personal crises for James Bond? At some point they need to trust the charm of the actor playing 007 and the story to provide the necessary dramatic tension.

Craig's Bond also fails to deliver the small Bondian moments that made 007 such a compelling character in the earlier films. I miss Connery derisively calling Grant "old man" after the fierce train car dust-up, his playful repartee with Kerim Bey, or the look of genuine little boy glee on his face as he demonstrated the special features of the DB5 in Goldfinger. Hell, I miss Roger Moore's unsportsmanlike karate kick in TMWTGG. Connery and Moore gave us a Bond who clearly ENJOYED his job. And despite their relative emotional reserve, that made them fun to watch. Bond knows his life could end at any time--and he's always done his best to enjoy himself while he can. That makes even his potentially comical need for the most lavish creature comforts understandable.

Craig just isn't as much fun to spend time with. His Bond serves as a warning against excess rather than a cathartic celebration of hedonism. And that's just not as compelling or fun for me. The current cinematic landscape is full of brooding, reluctant heroes. That makes me miss the old Bond more than ever.

And here's another of my usual complaints. The score is another huge misstep. The proper Bond theme makes a very stirring, and most welcome, appearance late in the film. But it's not used to score the action scenes. And that's a huge missed opportunity. The opening scene builds to a very unusual (for the film series) resolution. But that outcome could have had even more impact if the Bond theme was used for misdirection. The last few Bond composers have repeatedly voiced the concern that you can't use those themes because they assure the audience that Bond will prevail, thus destroying any possible tension (as if Bond's survival is in doubt 50 years down the line). Had the surprise climax of Skyfall's opening chapter been accompanied by the Bond theme abruptly cutting out it would have had far more impact--a great GOTCHA moment. The final siege scenes offered a couple perfect opportunities for the theme to kick in as well. But it didn't come.

Of course, the de-emphasizing of Barry's themes would be understandable if Newman had come up with original music with the same stirring qualities. But too much of the Skyfall score is as portentous as Arnold's last few scores--which makes the action scenes ominous instead of exhilarating. Maybe the overall feeling of Skyfall wouldn't be so heavy if the action scenes offered more of a release.

And here's my biggest problem. For the third consecutive outing, a Bond film ends with the implied promise that THE NEXT BOND FILM WILL BE BUSINESS AS USUAL. And that message is more explicit here than it was at the end of Casino Royale or QoS. The ending essentially circles around to the start of Dr. No. And as much as I hope we're really there now, I wanted this film to begin at that point--not arrive there at the 2:15 mark. I went to Skyfall hoping that the fully formed Bond was back. But apparently Eon doesn't have a problem with repeatedly teasing their long-time fans.

That said, this is, again, a huge step in the right direction. It's a very stylish, well executed film. But I have a feeling it will appeal more to newer Bond fans than the dinosaurs like myself. At this point I think I need to resolve myself to the fact that the Bond I cherished is gone. That doesn't mean I'm off the train entirely. But I definitely won't be anticipating future outings as much as I was anticipating Skyfall.

And here's a question for those of you who have already seen the film. Did you guys get the impression Finney's role was written for, uh, someone else? Like Scotland's best known cinematic export?
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:17 PM   #152
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Damn.

Seeing Skyfall tomorrow night, but with tempered expectations.
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Old 11-09-2012, 10:20 PM   #153
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Damn.

Seeing Skyfall tomorrow night, but with tempered expectations.
Don't let me slow you down Wes! It's good, just something different than what I expected--and probably needed.
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:25 PM   #154
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Posted my in depth thoughts in the other Bond thread.

But in short, I liked it but GoldenEye, Casino Royale, and M:I 4 were all better, I thought.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:27 PM   #155
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And here's a question for those of you who have already seen the film. Did you guys get the impression Finney's role was written for, uh, someone else? Like Scotland's best known cinematic export?
That was talked about early on in the writing, asking Sir Sean to appear. They nixed the idea early on though, a little too meta I guess. Plus he probably wouldn't have done it anyways.
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Old 11-24-2012, 03:51 PM   #156
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Big-time heads up. If you've been holding out on picking up this set now's the time. $99.99 at Amazon.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:53 PM   #157
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Ouch. Amazon has pulled the plug on the Bond deal due to "demand"--and replaced it with a deal on the Marilyn Monroe Blu set. I wonder if they think there's a lot of crossover between those 2 audiences?
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:18 AM   #158
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I just saw that "Never Say Never Again" blu-ray is apparently OOP. People are asking (though not necessarily getting) over $100 on Amazon and eBay. I bought a used copy on eBay when the Bond 50 set was announced for only $15. Good thing.
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:28 AM   #159
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I just saw that "Never Say Never Again" blu-ray is apparently OOP. People are asking (though not necessarily getting) over $100 on Amazon and eBay. I bought a used copy on eBay when the Bond 50 set was announced for only $15. Good thing.
Wow, I wasn't even aware it was OOP. I don't really see why it would be either but seeing how MGM/Fox has treated the franchise by releasing it on Blu-ray in such haphazard fashion it really doesn't surprise me. I bought it when it first came out, so I'm set.

Anyways... used my $30 free movie cash (from the BB exclusives) earlier to see Skyfall.
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Old 11-30-2012, 09:57 PM   #160
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saw Skyfall last night, and really liked it.
Spoiler:
i know some people have complained about how it feels like the franchise keeps trying to reboot itself with each of the craig films, but that didn't bother me too much. would i have liked them to re-establish the icons of the franchise a bit quicker? yeah, of course. but the fact remains that this was a really good movie. the thing is, i feel like THIS was the appropriate follow up to Casino Royale. THIS is the movie we should have got 4 years ago. I'm a QoS appologist, and I still maintain that it's a good movie. But it doesn't add anything to the cannon, and it feels more like an extended epilogue to Casino Royale rather than its own movie. I enjoy it for what it is, but there really wasn't any reason to make it. Brocolli and Wilson should have made Skyfall instead. Oh well. better late than never.

so yeah, that out of the way, i really enjoyed the movie. Mendez obviously loves Bond, and i was thrilled with all the nods to the series that this movie contained (exploding pens, the return of Q and Moneypenny, the original DB5 with the ejector button and machine guns), but my favorite nod was the entire end scene and the new M's new/old office with the hat rack in the vestibule and the padded door - phenomenal!

So does it feel like a bond movie? as in, a classic bond movie? nooooooot really. the structure isn't classical, the presence of bond's backstory isn't classical, the personal vendetta-style villain isn't very classical. but i came to accept it all. i think that this is what bond is now. you can't have the old style bond films with outrageous plots by villains like Goldfinger or Largo or Blofeld because that just doesn't fit into our era. i think that when you try to make that type of film you end up with....Die Another Day *shudder*.

so fine, i can accept that its yet another "course correction" for the Bond reboot after QoS, and I can accept that its not exactly a classic bond film. and that means i was able to enjoy it quite a bit. craig was great, and bardem made a pretty great villain. M's death was well done, and a good decision, I think. partly because Dench is just getting really old, and partly because Ray Fiennes is a great choice to help bring back the dynamic between Bond and M that existed with Connery and Bernard Lee. Actually, Dench as M has just been a continuity nightmare for the series. With her being M in Brosnan's films, and then M here, it just throws any hope of continuity out the window. which is more of an amusing side-note, since continuity has obviously never been important.


So yeah, this has been a bit of a rambling critique, but those are some of my feelings on the film. Just, for fucks sake, can we please open the next film with the gunbarrel? That's all I want. Well, actually, I'd also ask that whatever the plot of the next film is, that it begins with bond walking into M's office and M asking him "Bond, what do you know about [insert name of valuable mineral/encription technology/communist dictator]?"
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:23 PM   #161
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It's interesting that MGM chose to compress the old Casino Royale Blu-ray "Collector's Edition" 2-disc onto 1-disc for the Bond 50 set, which doesn't include all of those old extras.

Even the new single-disc editions of the film are the same way. Weird. Just more of MGM/Fox's weirdness with the Bond releases, or perhaps due to the 2-disc Blu-ray (OOP) being a Sony release?
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:54 PM   #162
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Does the Bond 50 Casino Royale disc have the trailer? Anyone know why the Casino Royale trailer isn't on the previous Blu-rays and DVDs?
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Old 12-02-2012, 02:03 AM   #163
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Does the Bond 50 Casino Royale disc have the trailer? Anyone know why the Casino Royale trailer isn't on the previous Blu-rays and DVDs?
No, it's not on the disc in the Bond 50 set.

I don't know why it wasn't on the previous releases...but since it was Sony who released the first editions, that's most likely why. They are notorious for often not including the original trailers.
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Old 11-30-2013, 03:27 PM   #164
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The Bond 50 collection is $99.99 at Amazon today only. And the individual Bond Blus appear to be $3.99 each.

Last edited by shape22; 11-30-2013 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 11-30-2013, 10:30 PM   #165
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I still can't bring myself to buy this set, even at $99. maybe because not all the transfers are top-notch. Or maybe it's because I like the 4-volume DVD box set better than this "flatbox". Dunno.
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