SKYFALL - "What did you expect? An Exploding Pen?"

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  11 November 2012
SKYFALL - "What did you expect? An Exploding Pen?"

SKYFALL gets 4 stars from Roger Ebert.

SKYFALL at 91% 'Certified Fresh' on Rotten Tomatoes

My own feelings are that SKYFALL is fantastic for fans of the film series (or even fans of the books to an extent who have a greater interest in the inter-personal relationships and haunted pasts of 007 and M).

However, I feel SKYFALL is a very poor stand-alone picture. But that it is great for fans.

Why do I think this? And what do I feel should have been done differently?

[ SPOILER - Click to reveal ]
Spoiler:

In the same way that a scandal involving "Bolivian Water" should not merit an entire James Bond adventure, neither does a simple "Get back at M!" plot hold the same wherewithal to have massive server rooms, a deserted island, and many masked gunmen just to help a blonde-haired veiled homosexual get his revenge.

That said. It is not that SKYFALL didn't have the setup of a great (if not one of the best) Bond adventures and what's in there is actually pretty good individually. You have references to an ex-MI6 agent who in my opinion could have been more significant than the rather second-rate Alec Trevelyan from Goldeneye.

There are also references to not just one but two previous missions that should both have intertwined with M's present predicaments with both 007 and Raoul Silva. But only one of them is pressed home and the other is treated as throwaway.

There's another good setup for a bit of action in Shanghai, but as it turns out this is also a throwaway.

A deserted island looks like it would have been ideal for the final showdown but it isn't used in that way. It's used in the same manner as "The Truck in TDK" - the villain throws a big card at his nemesis and lands in jail - apparently "all part of the plan".

Finally the film loses a lot of scope, BUT does something particularly original with the series by having the enemies come to 007 instead of him "raiding the enemy base".

The film does end actually with a scene reminiscent of the familiar opening sequences from the 1960's 007 films where we find the circle is nearly complete: Bond goes into the office, meets Moneypenny, and goes to see M (now played by Ralph Fiennes after the demise of the Judi-Dench-M). This has been of course the "soft landing in circular orbit" that many 007 fans imagined would happen after the long detour we took after Die Another Day had launched the series into the heights of outrageousness. So.. not that bad.

All in all, I'd say it was better than Quantum of Solace, but wasn't really the best put-together film.

Again, I felt Silva had a LOT of potential. But this is if only the film explored the item about China that M and Raoul didn't agree about. If the personal vendetta against M were augmented with an ideological issue by which Raoul could feasibly use to fuse with (or have others fuse with him) to take down MI6 then it would have worked better for non-fans. For 007 fans, having M as the center of problems is big enough. But if the China issue were made a larger part of the picture, Raoul would have more gravitas for non-fans and London's trepidation at letting Raoul continue to operate in China (or perhaps maybe it could turn out they sold him out to China) would allow for huge possibility for the Raoul Silva character to really drive home a "tortured Jullian Assange" persona.

Even if, in a bit of film sleight-of-hand, the actual China "evidence" or "problem" is used only as a Macguffin. And we never find out what it is. *wink wink*. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that if one substitutes Severine with a Chinese Intelligence Bond Girl....Bond's disregard (as in the end after all you have to disregard it) of the "Chinese Item" states Bond's allegiance to status quo. Which is 007's eternal compass in life.

And just in case the audience doesn't get it even at that, 007 must "exchange bodily fluids" with this Chinese woman even after knowing fully well that Silva felt he had found something that was "worth going to war and blowing the HK handover". Bond votes for Status Quo. It's always been one of his ace coping mechanisms.

It is also a modernization of 007's automatic disdain for anything a villain stands for. 007 cannot be turned. So again, I think a real chance was in this picture. It just didn't happen.

The re-boot comes full circle, but I feel it hobbles itself with directors refusing to re-use details setup by others in the past. I'm talking about Quantum. Previous directors and writers had no issue using SPECTRE again and again and again as an easy answer to why locales 007 visited were dangerous or why he was the necessary focus of the danger. Residual momentum from this type of presentation is why no one questions that M is the focus of danger and threat in SKYFALL (London is just collateral damage). But it is not handled gracefully here, and it seems improbable (unless it's Quantum) that Silva was able to setup this entire scheme, just so that he can get his revenge.

I think I would have gone with a plot where Silva really has no men, and in a kind of "WikiLeaks on Acid" plot, really just wants to play Quantum against MI6 while he works to "finish the China mission" and he reveals later that from moling around cyberspace he now also has "many secret missions left to fulfill". This crusade to expose the world's governments and mobilize very dangerous forces indirectly to see his own views of world events unfold "correctly" would, in my view, elevate SKYFALL to "killer satellite plot" levels - which I think is the scale 007 always requires.

Most of the film's main gags, stunts, and even actual events can be the same. I just feel that the villain needed more meat on his bones to carry the picture which is what a Bond Villain is supposed to do.

The other thing I didn't like was the near-forced references to older films like the Aston Martin DB5. Sam Mendes fails to note that the vehicle "suddenly appears" in SKYFALL, causing pleasure to 007 fans, but also in complete disdain for people coming in cold to the series.

I think at the very least, Q should have volunteered the use of the DB5 as a suggestion for the "cold bread trail".

Even if this sort of attaches a cord between the M personal issue with a Global Conspiracy Cyber-Catastrophe - M can STILL die in the end. But I think the theatrical print of SKYFALL doesn't allow either M or Silva satisfactory conclusion.

In the theatrical print, M is shot by one of Silva's men in a moment we aren't fully aware of, and Silva (whose main antagonism is directed at M) is killed by 007 with a knife in the back. A simple adjustment here would have had Silva shoot M in the chapel after M stabs Silva with the knife - thus allowing both characters to complete their resolutions with each other.

Bond arrives, incapacitates the dying Silva, but finds he is unable to save M. When Bond cries and kisses M - and this is in the theatrical cut - it is a final answer to how Bond and Silva (both of whom were sold short by M) look at what M does to their lives. Bond kissing M in the forehead is acceptance that "We all knew the risks. I do not blame her in the end." Which is great and is something I would retain.

The other thing I would have wanted to change is how Bond "comes back from the dead". I would have preferred that Silva hacks MI6 claiming to be "James Bond" while M is writing his obituary. This makes the action move forward faster and moves M to look for Bond even as MI6 thinks Bond may have survived and is now getting back at M (when in fact it is Silva getting back at M - the whole "Think on Your Sins" thing would have had more punch this way).

Still I'm happy for what was in there. Gags involving motorbikes and glass curtain walls in a skyscraper are expertly done, and the action sequence at the rural home called Skyfall are also filmed beautifully.

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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 11 November 2012 at 11:55 PM.
 
  11 November 2012
I just saw it and I LOVED IT...
And I think that this film is a MASTER CLASS in cinematography.

Jebus in a hotcake, the Cinematography in this film is so epic it defies words.

(And I am not exaggerating).
Roger Deakins gave the film a Huge depth in terms of visuals alone.
To the Michael Bays of the world, THIS IS HOW YOU LIGHT AND FRAME A FILM.
The color palette, of the images alone tell a story. And more than one I gasped on how dreamlike the film looked.



-R
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Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 11 November 2012 at 12:36 AM.
 
  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by RobertoOrtiz: I just saw it and I LOVED IT...
And I think that this film is a MASTER CLASS in cinematography.

Jebus in a hotcake, the Cinematography in this film is so epic it defies words.

(And I am not exaggerating).
Roger Deakins gave the film a Huge depth in terms of visuals alone.
To the Michael Bays of the world, THIS IS HOW YOU LIGHT AND FRAME A FILM.
The color palette, of the images alone tell a story. And more than one I gasped on how dreamlike the film looked.



-R


Yes, Roger Deakins did a fantastic job. Like I mentioned, it's a beautiful looking film. Very Stylish. And again, a few of the gags actually require Deakins to "help out" with some of the optical color and visual work for the gags like how adjacent glass rooms are turned into a "house of mirrors". Without his work that stunt wouldn't have come off as credible.

It's fascinating.... but the villain needed more meat.
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  11 November 2012
I agee with Roberto, the cinematography in Skyfall is absolutely stunning. Magic happen when Roger Deakins gets involved with a film.
I also loved totally loved how this film played out. I was so disappointed with QoS for being halfway back to the ridiculous Pierce Brosnan 'take over the world until Bond spectacularly destroys the villains base which is an incredible undiscovered fortress in the middle of nowhere'.

Keeping the story personal was genius, and made me care so much more for the outcome. Some great acting, and well crafted characters made this possibly my favourite Bond film to date.

Fully recommend seeing this in the cinema!
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  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by nickmarshallvfx: I agee with Roberto, the cinematography in Skyfall is absolutely stunning. Magic happen when Roger Deakins gets involved with a film.
I also loved totally loved how this film played out. I was so disappointed with QoS for being halfway back to the ridiculous Pierce Brosnan 'take over the world until Bond spectacularly destroys the villains base which is an incredible undiscovered fortress in the middle of nowhere'.

Keeping the story personal was genius, and made me care so much more for the outcome. Some great acting, and well crafted characters made this possibly my favourite Bond film to date.

Fully recommend seeing this in the cinema!


Actually as a fan of the "Raid the Base" 007 films... QoS was also a bad score because "Bolivian Water" is a crisis that shouldn't merit sending James Bond... Also the Quantum person who came up with the plan should drink motor oil - trying to extort money from a poor nation is a very bad idea as.... They wouldn't have any money!
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  11 November 2012
I liked the movie but I think Casino Royale was a much better film.

I don't see what was so special about the cinematography to be honest, The skyfall parts were beautifully shot but it never awed me like say Road to Perdition did. If you want to see awe inspiring cinematography watch that. Conrad Hall is still unequaled.
 
  11 November 2012
I was extremely excited for this movie when I first saw the trailer but I then continuously lowered my expectations as it got closer to release just as a precaution. I'm glad I did. It looked beautiful and Bardem as the villain was great but overall it didn't do it for me. I left the theater with a strange neutral feeling. I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't necessarily amped about the movie either. I think I expected something almost as good as Casino Royale but honestly I don't think it came close. Anybody else have similar feelings?
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  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by rblitz7: I was extremely excited for this movie when I first saw the trailer but I then continuously lowered my expectations as it got closer to release just as a precaution. I'm glad I did. It looked beautiful and Bardem as the villain was great but overall it didn't do it for me. I left the theater with a strange neutral feeling. I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't necessarily amped about the movie either. I think I expected something almost as good as Casino Royale but honestly I don't think it came close. Anybody else have similar feelings?



Reading the reviews of people after seeing the film, yes, a lot of people feel the same way. Casino Royale was a better film in every respect.
 
  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by rblitz7: I was extremely excited for this movie when I first saw the trailer but I then continuously lowered my expectations as it got closer to release just as a precaution. I'm glad I did. It looked beautiful and Bardem as the villain was great but overall it didn't do it for me. I left the theater with a strange neutral feeling. I wasn't disappointed but I wasn't necessarily amped about the movie either. I think I expected something almost as good as Casino Royale but honestly I don't think it came close. Anybody else have similar feelings?


Yes that's because...

[ SPOILER - Click to reveal ]
Spoiler:

At the end of the day, the movie is just "Downfall of M". Which of course as a fan is significant. What is missing is the "high stakes for everyone outside of Bond and M's personal circle" which is what Casino Royale had in the form of "Terror Money on the Loose" and what other 007 films usually had with death weapons or atomic bombs.

More on this in my first post. But that's really what I think it is. It only feels like half of what 007 is supposed to deal with.

But definitely very pretty looking film.
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  11 November 2012
I liked it quite a lot. I miss the raw, pounding energy of Casino Royale's first half - but still, a good experience. And as Roberto mentioned, that's how you light a movie. Very, very beautiful.
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  11 November 2012
Awesome for me as well. Tossing in the old Astin was a nice touch as well.
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  11 November 2012
It was decent in my opinion, as mentioned it is one gorgeous film with nearly every shot leaving me in awe. Maybe if they retitled it as "Gorgeous Shots Featuring Daniel Craig" or something. Some of the CG irritated me a bit as well like the lizards, one of my friends complained about the helicopters as well which stuck out a bit also. Overall it was a worthy addition to the series just a bit lacking after some hype.
 
  11 November 2012
I liked it. I don't know if I'm alone in this, but the opening action scene in modern Bond movies is always really good, and the rest of the action in the film never seems quite as good or exciting. It's as if they throw everything at the opener and then let the rest of it coast along.
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  11 November 2012
it's quite odd to see so many different opinions about a movie like this, I guess it shows people really rate a movie on alot of different aspects

Unfortunately I couldn't really appreciate the good parts of the movie because of the obvious annoyances I found in the script, and to be honest I really wish I didn't, because these are the movies I used to get exited about.

(the opening credits where amazing tough)
 
  11 November 2012
I want to add that there is more to good cinematography of this film than pretty pictures.

That is what a guy like Michael Bay does. And all his film look like a commercial for a beer called America. (please nohate posts, I love the good old USA, but I hate Ritalyn boy shooting style.)
When you light your shots the same dawm way during the whole dawm film, like he does, you lose your impact.


The actual visual language of Skyfall was amazing.
I bet you that you could see the movie in mute, and follow it.

You could tell, just by looking at ANY SCENE, where the characters where, and the mood of the film.
Location palettes:
[ SPOILER - Click to reveal ]
Spoiler:

Turkey, Smoky earth Colors
England, Grey
Shangai, Blues
Macau, (God macau) , Dreamy Reds
Hashima, Industrial grey
Scotland, Grey greens

And it not only that, the shot compositions were amazing

[ SPOILER - Click to reveal ]
Spoiler:

The fight in darkenes the skyscaper, illumited by gunfire
The INCREDIBLY sexy shaving scene
The tatto shot in the Casino.
The arrival in the Casino in Macau
The underwater fight in the lake
The destruction of SkyFall, and how it became the main light source

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Last edited by RobertoOrtiz : 11 November 2012 at 03:11 PM.
 
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