And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Skyfall (2012)
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It’s been a long, fascinating journey, David. I’m almost sorry to see it end. Almost, as I too am kinda sick of watching Bond by now.

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who was annoyed by the exploding pen comment. I was extremely saddened to see that this (SPOILER!!!) would be the last Bond film to have Judi Dench, as she demonstrated that Bond is better when he has some solid supporting actors. Maybe Eon has finally learned that Bond shouldn’t be a one man show.

Comment by Daniel Knepp

So, as Adele says, this is the end. It’s been a long, turbulent journey, but it’s a journey I’m glad to have taken with you, David. Good luck with your review of Red Dawn.
Also, Happy Birthday, Mr. Bond. May you keep fighting supervillains and cheating death for many decades to come.

P.S. Did you think that Sir John Gielgud (or a character played by Gielgud) was the “late husband” M was talking about when she dropped Tennyson on the audience? I don’t know why, but ever since I heard Dench and Gielgud playing off each other as Priam and Hecuba in Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, I’ve felt they would’ve made a good couple.

Comment by Jordan Levells

A great note to leave on – and I’m glad it was. We don’t always agree, but these reviews have always been fun. Thanks!

Comment by RogerBW

POTENTIAL SPOILERS for anyone reading this post and who hasn’t watched the film. So there you go, prior warning.

Good review. I myself enjoyed Skyfall but in my eyes, fails to be as good as it’s best predecessors. First off, the moody nature of this film can be, at times, overwhelming. Right after MI6 gets blewed up good, we go right to Bond shagging a hot chick on an island which should have lightened things up a bit but the island looks so gloomy and Bond seems depressed as he drinks his mediocre beer and then he looks even worse in the overcast daylight. Here in lies the problem with the film, there seems no real break in the moodiness, there are some attempts with an occasional one liner but they all fell flat. Secondly, the only woman Bond seemed to connect with is M and that…just ain’t right. Granted, I get M’s importance in this film, unlike the others which just expanded Judi Dench’s screen time, but c’mon, you gotta keep the raging heterosexuality in Bond. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service ,when you knew Bond was getting serious with Tracy, you can buy the fact that Bond would still be sleeping around with gorgeous girls because you don’t think he’s an ass hole, you know it’s part of the myth of the character.

All Complaints aside, I still enjoy Skyfall for it’s excellent stunt sequences, Bardem as Raoul Silva, the return of Q, and a kick ass finale. Here is to another 50 years ago.

BTW, great use of The Living Tree at the end. ;)

Comment by Ricardo Cantoral

You’ve hit the nail on the head about the whole moodiness thing, Ricardo–in fact, that’s my main problem with both this film and its two immediate predecessors.

I don’t know why, how, or even precisely when it happened (though I think it may have begun with Batman Begins), but suddenly it seems as though filmmakers have to take film characters such as Superman, Spider-Man, 007 and others–characters whose cinematic personalities, as well as the worlds they existed in, had a certain amount of campiness to counterbalance the seriousness of their situations–and strip them of nearly or absolutely all humorous elements, to the point where they’re SO serious and SO raw and SO emotional that…well, damn–I paid $12.50 to spend two hours having something called fun. I might as well have not have left the house if I knew I was going to wind up feeling this low. If I wanted to see a British intelligence officer doing his job and not enjoying himself, I’ll rent The Ipcress File. I get that this is all to please the super-fans who’ve read all the books/comics/whatevers and want that character shown on the screen, but, well, I’m not one of those super-fans, I didn’t read all the books/comics/whatevers, but don’t my hard-earned twelve-and-a-half Washingtons count for something? I understand that it’s to make these characters seem more human–but do they have to be THIS human?

Comment by Michael O.

The way they indulge their fans is rather ironic because they aren’t really following the source material. For example, Nolan isn’t loyal to Batman at all. He doesn’t respect what makes the characters tick, he just guts them and substitutes their personalities with pretentious bull shit of social and political themes. Why do the fans lap this up like cheap booze ? Simple, their favorite long underwear men are being taken seriously. This sacrifice of appeal has been happening for decades in comics; what was once simple stories for children have become long, convoluted story arcs and an endless line of sacrificial lambs for the sake of creating “tragedy” so these characters can never stop brooding. I understand when Denny O’Neill and Steven Englehart had to flesh out these characters beyond gimmicks in the late 60’s and early 70’s to breath new life into a dying industry but it’s 2012 so isn’t it time to turn back the clock ? Shouldn’t a new generation of children be exposed to these classic characters instead of a minority of 40 somethings and hardcore teenage fan boys ? The sames goes for the films as well. I think Marvel has the right idea but I think they need to have more creative input from their directors instead of executives churning these films out like link sausages.

Comment by Ricardo Cantoral

As one of the fans who “lap this up like cheap booze” I ‘m conflicted. On the one hand, I have my knee-jerk response to any appeal to/for “the children,” even when I was one I proudly said, “Fuck the children,” a tradition I’ll continue and, hopefully, pass on to my own (should I ever be dumb enough to destroy my life by having them). But, on the other hand, I wouldn’t “turn back the clock” on them for all the saffron rice in India. As a child, I longed for just this sort of world and see its vagaries, not as a “sacrifice of appeal,” but as a way to increase it.

The last thing a child wants is some “simple” story apparently designed for them. They can smell that a mile away. Christopher Eccleston put it best: “children…are far more tasteful; they will not be bullshitted. It’s either good, or it’s bad. They don’t schmooze at after-show parties, with cocktails.” Hence the reliance on Angst – which, we’re agreed, is straight out of ’80s comic books. But I can remember being an American teenager and drowning in angst anyway. This means encountering it in your media feels like coming home. Or, at the very least, getting your views reinforced.

And one of these days we’re gonna have a long, pedantic, and likely-angst-ridden conversation about the internet-wide use of the word “pretentious” as a pejorative. In this age of fake populism and the calcification of class hierarchies, that particular critical tic is really starting to get my goat.

Comment by David DeMoss

I was hoping to provoke a response from you. ;)

When I say simple children’s stories, I mean the kind of stories that were approachable to children which ironically contained better draftsmanship and a more coherent narrative than the so called “adult” comics of today. I think if a compromise was struck, this could be the greatest era of super hero comic books yet. I am not saying to down right neglect the older audience but make these comics appeal to general audiences.

Comment by Ricardo Cantoral

Comment by David DeMoss

I certainly would not compromise certain one shot comics. I have read some great ones like Arkham Asylum. I was thinking more about the more popular super heroes like Batman, Spiderman, Superman, etc. Make them relive the old days of comic book yore and in a real way and not some stupid “reboot” with a modern twist.

Comment by Ricardo Cantoral

I’ll be honest, my reaction to Skyfall (on my webpage, I have a review) was, “It’s okay” and it’s the same sort of feeling I get from the Captain America movie. I can’t enjoy a Bond movie which feels like it is the result of redoing scenes from previous Bond movies. This, btw, tells you I enjoy approximately eight Bond movies total. I make an exception for “The Spy Who Loved Me” because it was “You Only Live Twice” except not shit (ninjas and Japan aside).

Skyfall, sadly just came off like this:

* The girlfriend of the killer turns against him because he’s abusive (TMWTGG)
* Threatening M due to past actions (TWINE)
* A Rogue MI6 operative wants to destroy MI6 for his painful disfigurement (GE)
* A list of operatives stolen by a computer savvy evil-doer (Mission Impossible)

Oh and throw Q and Moneypenny in while making it all a prequel to Doctor No. It was entirely “okay” but I can’t say it had anything really original to say. It was an above average Bond film with a nice score was my reaction.

To each their own, I thought The Man With The Golden Gun was goofy fun.

Comment by Charles Phipps

You missed a big one, Bond’s “death” and “ressurection” was straight out of You Only Live Twice, the novel in particular due to M writing his obituary. The recycling of ideas in Skyfall is definitely beyond question however, I’d argue that this film, unlike the certain aforementioned source material they originated from, actually exploits those good ideas. Silva’s motives and characterization were far more complex than Trevelyan’s; He entertains himself by screwing with international politics and playing sadistic games to penetrate the boredom of his existence. There hasn’t been a Bond this petty and complex since…well…never. True, he was rehash of a rehash (Trevelyan was based on Sir Hugo Drax from Fleming’s Moonraker) but this second incarnation worked far more successfully.

Secoundly, I am glad you brought up The World is Not Enough because M in that film was fucking weak; I couldn’t believe that stupid, sentimental idiot was the head of MI6. In Skyfall M was as she should be, cold as ice. She exploited Silva and Bond without a bit of remorse. The old sailor in Fleming’s novels would have done exactly the same.

Comment by Ricardo Cantoral

I’d argue the World is Not Enough is a perfect example of why the Brosnen Era failed as it and Goldeneye are basically Proto-Daniel Craig movies which were crowd-pleasing but unwilling to tackle the subject-matter involved. Elektra King is a character Bond isn’t allowed to feel for even as I’m sure there’s a draft in the script where he’s emotionally compromised by her because, well, Electra is Tracy in every which way but the part where she’s bat**** insnae (and Tracy WAS pretty coocoo for cocoa puffs). Yet, at the end of the film, Electra is going to become a wannabe “history’s greatest mass murderer” just like Alec and all of Brosnen’s other foes do.

M’s affection for Electra King makes perfect sense if she’s NOT a wannabe Ozymandias and Bond might actually have to engage Alec on some level where he’s up to something other than killing the entirety of London. The movies shy away from that and leave things all too pat. Frankly, I can’t say that I felt Silva does much better. He’s not a complex character as he has a very single dimension–revenge on M. The only major difference is he’s actually semi-justified in his revenge. I felt the whole, “I use computers to cause wars and **** for giggles” detracted from his character and felt more like Silva was the Joker (Heath Ledger version) than the character on screen. He’s a well-realized cartoon but he’s a cartoon nonetheless. Which is appropriate because James Bond is (usually) a cartoon hero and that’s not a bad thing.

I just don’t think Silva and his magic computer are particularly deep.

Comment by Charles Phipps

Maybe if someone would have punched up Purvis and Wade’s script for TWINE it would have workd ? David Mamet ? Bring Jeffrey Caine back ? Ah well.

As for your comments on Silva, I think he was actually better written than Ledger’s Joker*. Silva wanted to get M but you also over simplify his motives, he did what he did to try and continue his meaningless existence. By the end of the film he was so jaded, tired of all the fighting, he wanted to simply die. He didn’t even want to engage Bond anymore.

* I think Ledger was given lousy material to with playing a character who was just one big contradiction; A sloppy looking madman who claims to be an “agent of chaos” with perfectly logical motivations with plans executed with absurdly precise timing. Heath over came the weak material and gave a breath taking performance; How he managed I’ll never know.

Comment by Ricardo Cantoral




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