I finally sat down and watched Skyfall. I wrote thoughts down as I watched the movie and I’ll share them with you. Fair warning: I am probably going to spoil a lot. Maybe. Wait a second, I’m reading ahead. Yep. Sufficiently spoiled. You have been warned but this is why I tend to review movies that have been out for a few years. That and I’m often behind on seeing things since I always have a long list of things I want to watch.
First, a few words on James Bond. I grew up with James Bond movies. I haven’t seen them all but there’s twenty of them so I think I can be forgiven. Octopussy came out when I was one but the first Bond film I saw was From Russia With Love. I loved it and I loved all of the older Bond films that I saw. When Golden Eye came out, I embraced Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond. Golden Eye is really fun and brought Bond into the Information Age. Unfortunately his other three films got progressively worse. It felt like the same decline from Burton’s Batman to Schumacher’s Batman. I think Casino Royale can be seen as equivalent to Batman Begins. They rebuilt the franchise from the ground up and fixed a lot of what had gone wrong in tone.
Anyway, let’s get to my random comments.
“Three minutes in and… Holy Shit that’s an awesome gun. A little silly but hell, I want to shoot one.”
The henchman that Bond was chasing had a full automatic handgun. Like Elliott Spencer, I hate the existence of guns but unlike Elliott I kind of love to shoot them in a shooting range. It’s hard to explain how a person sworn to non-violence could come to love shooting a gun. I guess it goes back to riflery classes in summer camp. It’s also the same visceral feeling I get from shooting my bow. Besides, an inanimate target doesn’t count.
“… Roll end credits.”
Having the main character get shot by a sniper before the opening title is pretty startling. Everybody immediately writes him off even though he has survived horrible torture and danger in two previous movies. It makes sense but it ends up being ridiculous later.
“Oh shit, I forgot Adele sings the theme. Mute.”
It should be clear here that I do not like Adele’s music. I generally don’t like slow ballads at all and she does poppy ballads that were overplayed on the radio. My patience got worn out pretty quickly. I did mute the title sequence but I did enjoy the imagery. It’s always a fun, trippy sequence that leaves lasting symbols usually in my sub-conscious since my conscious mind seems to forget it as soon as it’s done.
“Why are all movie hackers prone to creating goofy animations and/or video packages?”
I’m not a computer expert by far. I’m above average for the people I know but definitely below my IT expert friends. However, I am an animation aficionado and an artist. Movie hackers always seem to attach some flash animation to taunt their target. It seems kind of petty actually but I suppose that’s the point. For reference see Jurassic Park, Independence Day, Hackers
“Wow drinking games just got Nintendo hard.”
The scorpion drinking game was impressive. At least, I hope it was a drinking game. It shows how bad-ass Bond is but also shows how far down the hole he has gone. It’s a pretty simple way of showing us in a few seconds how unstable the man has become. Of course, justifiably feeling betrayed by the country you gave your life to can shake your worldview and mental health as well. ‘Nintendo Hard’ is a term referring to how impossibly difficult old NES games were. See games like Ghosts and Goblins and Contra and broken TV sets across the country.
“I love you Judi Dench. You earn that paycheck.”
She really does. She’s been excellent in these three Bond films. I’m also paraphrasing a joke made regularly by Cinema Sins. I am a horrible thief sometimes. I blame my training at Rutgers.
“Um. Why is he briefing Bond as he’s taking his tests? What if he fails the last one? Then they have to kill him?”
This struck me as weird. Sure they all expect Bond to pass his tests and this to save time but what if he doesn’t? Also, he doesn’t pass the tests. He only gets reinstated because he’s Bond. It becomes clear pretty quickly that he is not passing the tests. Shut up about national secrets until he’s reinstated already.
“Don’t cock it up is probably what all new directors of James Bond movies are told. You cocked it up Lee Tamahori.”
I could not resist an admittedly cheap shot at the director of Die Another Day. Pierce Brosnan started off as a good Bond but they cheesed up the whole thing. The movies kind of ran together for me. As somebody who prides himself as being able to remember plots and characters with high accuracy this is troubling to me. It means something when I can’t sort out the Bond films between Golden Eye and Casino Royale. A few scenes later and Q basically explains why the Craig bond films are better than the Brosnan ones.
“Sexy mood lighting is go.”
The lighting and cinematography in this movie are really good. You can see everything when you need to see it and there are a lot of very pretty yet understated shots. The scene in question in particular was incredibly intimate with darkness punctuated by neon signs. It was just confusing enough to convey how confusing the room was for Bond.
“Wait, go back. Why are we in floating lantern world? Oh for gambling. OK I’m caught up. Spy shit going on with the casino chip. Cool.”
I legitimately got lost here for a minute or two because Craig’s Bond doesn’t have a lot of dialogue to explain things. I’m fine with it, it just took me a bit to catch up. I probably got distracted too.
“Hi, I go around announcing my real name to everyone. I’m the best secret agent ever.”
I always thought it was kind of weird that James Bond casually tosses his name everywhere he goes. Even if it’s not his real name, he uses the same alias everywhere he goes. He almost never uses a fake name when introducing himself. It seems a little overconfident.
“I kind of like intense Raccoon Lady.”
The quasi-villainess, ‘Bond Girl’ whose name passed me by was really quite good. I called her Raccoon Lady because of the heavy eye-makeup she wore. She was intense and confident and fairly well-rounded for a Bond Girl. She doesn’t stick around too long but she was fun while she lasted.
“Surprise, I’m in your shower and that’s not my gun poking you.”
If anybody besides Bond slipped into a lady’s shower fully naked, they would be kneed in the crotch and in handcuffs so fast. Of course, here she could have had him shot in international waters.
“Hello, Javier Bardem, I forgot you were in this. It’s weird to hear you speak but you seem cool.”
He really makes this movie. I refer to his silent and brilliant role in No Country for Old Men which is the only other movie I’ve seen him in. According to IMDB he was in Collateral but he wasn’t memorable. He is funny, creepy and almost so intelligent that you find yourself agreeing with him during his first few scenes. He reminded me of Ricardo Montalban in Wrath of Khan. He was an epic, intelligent and batshit insane villain.
“Nope. Nope. This whole thing has a Phillip Seymour Hoffman in MI:3 vibe to it.”
I was right.
“Hopefully Q will get smarter.”
He would probably be the first to agree that he makes a boneheaded play here. At least for somebody who’s supposed to be as brilliant as he is supposed to be.
“Oh did I forget to comment for awhile? This movie must be really good.”
At some point I got completely sucked into the film. Journeying to the Bond estate in Scotland was excellent. I want to learn more about their family but we know how much that is a whole set of scars for Bond. He might not be talking about it anytime soon. The movie just continues to be great and ends perfectly. This might not have been one of my favorite movies but this was one of the better Bond films.