November 27, 2012

Some thoughts on Skyfall

I am not a Bond aficionado. I havn't seen most of the classic Bond films. The Piece Brosnan Bond films from my youth were corny. I didn't have a very good impression of the series. However, Casino Royale got my attention. It was one of the best and most deserved reboots I can think of. Then came Quantum of Solace and I didn't know what to think.

I had no intention of going to the theater to see Skyfall. Then it was universally praised by critics and lauded as the “best Bond film ever”. I couldn't pass up something like that.

As an action movie Skyfall was solid. The beginning was fun even though there was some questionable strategy from the bad guy. The highlight of the entire movie was a hotel assassination attempt in the dark. The action in that scene looked amazing. However, down the stretch the movie let me down.

As just a movie Skyfall was beautiful. The lighting was perfect. The colors were stunning. It is the prettiest action movie I have ever seen... and one of the prettiest overall. Technically there was not much of anything to complain about.

I've never thought much about the Bond timeline before, but it never seemed that complicated. Skyfall was able to throughly confuse me about when this was all taking place and how it fit into the overall timeline. The new trilogy started out as a prequel. I think that is still in play here. However, there is a lot of stuff that makes it seem like the events in Skyfall happen after all the older Bond stuff. I don't think it has to make sense to be a decent movie… which is good because it doesn't.

One of the moments that felt strange is when Q gives Bond his gear. Not to spoil anything, but all he gets is a gun that will only fire when he uses it, and a tracking radio. They throw in a comment about simplifying, “What were you expecting? An exploding pen?” It definitely made it seem like exploding pens had been in play in the past. That is all well and good if the lack of gadgets pays off in a cool way. However, the personalized gun comes back in play in one of the stupidest scenes in the movie.

The writing in Skyfall has been praised, but I found it to be uneven. There were some great scenes, but others that felt awkward.

At several points in the film I was struck by how implausible the events on the screen were. In an action film that isn't always a deal breaker, but it usually isn't a good sign when you are cognizant of it durning the film. This is ultimately a subjective evaluation that will be different from one viewer to the next. I'm saying that I found a lot of the events of the film to be ridiculous, and not presented in a way that made me want to “just go along with it.”

It didn't help anything that the villain in the movie is a cyber terrorist. They forced themselves into showing several scenes depicting computer hacking, something that does not translate well to the big screen. Most of the way I was on board, but things got out of control at the end. They tried to show a graphical representation of code that is continuously morphing as they try to disable it. Then they make this big deal about how careful they have to be about dropping these breadcrumbs so the baddie would fall into their “trap”. I really didn't understand what they were trying to do there.

This brings us to the end. I didn't like it. It felt like for the last 30 minutes we went into a much different movie. It turned into James Bond crossed with Home Alone. I didn't understand what they were trying to do with it. I got a little more insight after listening to the discussion on the /filmcast, but I'm still not sure it was a worthy climax to what the rest of the film had set up.

I enjoyed the heck out of 75% of Skyfall and I am glad I went to the theater to see it. It is a beautiful looking movie with some really great sequences. I'm not sure what to think about the package as a whole. While I wouldn't argue with anybody who loved the film, I do find the high rating a little hard to believe. I've got a long way to go before I can say I have seen the entire Bond catalogue, but I hope Skyfall isn't the “best Bond film ever”.

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