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20 November 2012 @ 06:58 am
Skyfall is a heck of a movie. Beautiful cinematography, outstanding acting, amazing stunts and special effects. It hews tightly to the conventions of the Bond franchise, yet does it all in a fresh and intriguing way. "Bond, James Bond," "shaken, not stirred," the meeting with Q, the fancy car with ejector seat... all are present, as expected, but handled unexpectedly and with a dry understated wit. But though the film is structurally identical to every other Bond film, it's substantially darker and deeper than any of them.

As usual, the film begins with a spectacular extended pre-credits fight scene, but this one ties in with the rest of the film much more tightly than I can recall seeing before. There are exotic locations and stunts (a brutal fight silhouetted against the digital billboards of Singapore is outstanding) but they are surprisingly gritty and often Blade Runneresque, and the final standoff in the dark and fog is simultaneously reminiscent of every other Bond climax in the secret lair and a complete inversion of that trope. Not high-tech in the least, it's feisty and handmade. And there are Bond girls, to be sure, with the expected misogyny, but each of them is given a very different send-off than what we're used to, and Bond's primary female companion this time is M (Judi Dench, brilliant as always). The longstanding relationship between them and the complete lack of sexual tension give this film an emotional core that I've never seen before in a Bond film.

In many ways Skyfall reminds me of one of my favorite films: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It shares that film's themes of age, death, loss, and obsolescence, and like that film it ends with a new beginning, a revitalization of the franchise that acknowledges and continues its history yet also reinvents itself with new characters and new energy.

See it.

ETA: SPOILERS in the comments.
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David D. Levinedavidlevine on November 20th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Oooh yeah.

Something I tweeted yesterday, and forgot to put into the review: The wonderful thing about Daniel Craig's Bond is that he makes everything he does look hard.
Sinanjusinanju on November 21st, 2012 05:36 am (UTC)
One of the things I really liked about Timothy Dalton's brief tenure as 007 was similar. He managed to show me a guy who, despite all the amazing heroics he performed, was well aware that he could easily get killed doing it--and did it anyway.
Stevenomero_hassan on November 20th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
Shanghai, but who's counting? I thought that sequence was stunning. A friend complained that you couldn't see the fight. I was like, really? They're fighting - what do you need to see? Craig is on the fast track to eclipse Connery in my book.
David D. Levinedavidlevine on November 20th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
Oops. Yes, Shanghai, a city which after seeing this movie I really want to visit!

I don't think that anyone can ever truly "eclipse" Connery. Does Lincoln eclipse Washington? Does Heath Ledger eclipse Jack Nicholson? Both filled the same role in memorable but different ways. Craig's Bond is in many ways better than Connery's, but he's of this era in the same way that Connery was of his; the two can't be directly compared.

Edited at 2012-11-20 04:58 pm (UTC)
Steven: Daniel Craigomero_hassan on November 20th, 2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Fair enough. Lord knows I wouldn't say no to either Connery or Craig in their prime, so why choose when you don't have to?

Have you seen the article on Vulture nitpicking Skyfall's evil plan?
David D. Levinedavidlevine on November 20th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
No, I hadn't. Ha!
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Steven: Erroromero_hassan on November 20th, 2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
I was sort of stuck on why does this tunnel come up at some random place in the backyard instead of going all the way to the chapel like any normal secret passageway would?
kathrynmicekathrynmice on November 21st, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
rocks. Did you see the stone the house was built on? Did you see the stone and rocks the chapel was built on? quarrying through stone is expensive and not strictly necessary when it wasn't politically sensitive to be a catholic priest in Scotland.
et in Arcadia egobooapostle_of_eris on November 20th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
Ian Fleming described James Bond as "a blunt implement in the hands of the government."
When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument ... when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.
Ian Fleming, The New Yorker, 21 April 1962
((thank you Google, thank you Wikipedia))

I'm not sure I want a Bond with a complex inner life . . .
kathrynmicekathrynmice on November 21st, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
I second that, a very good movie
It is what Ian Fleming wrote, not what the Broccoli's promulgated. Not an Air Hostess in the whole movie either.

The books were grim, dark and gritty and I was pretty certain I never wanted to meet Ian Fleming's James Bond in the course of my normal day.