Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday at the Movies: Skyfall

I found some time to see Skyfall over the weekend, and figured I'd do a quick, mostly spoiler-free write up for it.

First, if you've been living in a cave the past few years, Skyfall is the third movie in the James Bond prequel trilogy, which stars Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond. Apparently it's more of a reboot than an actual prequel trilogy -- let me explain that.

The trilogy starts with Casino Royale, in which we see Bond earn his "00" status, meaning this is the first time Bond becomes 007. I really enjoyed this movie because of the grittiness and roughness Craig brought to the role (which is only possible for the character because he's just starting out in the big leagues).

A plot thread from Royale leads to the second movie, Quantum of Solace. I didn't like this film because it was more of an action movie that did nothing to further the Bond mythos.

This leads us to Skyfall, which could more or less function as a standalone film, not continuing any story arc from the previous two (that I noticed, I suppose I could have missed something). At its ending, Skyfall would make a perfect leeway into the first ever Bond film, Dr. No.

Well, almost. The series is a reboot because, instead of trying to mimic the technology that would have officially come before the time period Dr. No is set in, the started Casino Royale in modern times, with modern technology that makes most of the gadgets from the original films obsolete.

Since I assume the Bond license will be used again, it will be interesting to see how this is handled -- will we see remakes/updates of the original films (which would be very, very difficult), or will completely new stories be introduced, overwriting the past films or allowing us to use our imagination to find ways for the out-dated stories to fit in.

That's not really important at the moment, I assume. Skyfall is.

If I was to put it against the rest of the trilogy, it would look something like this:

Casion Royale>Skyfall>Quantum

If I was to put it against the rest of the movies, it would be a jumbled mess, so I won't do it.

On my arbitrary scale, I'd rate it a 7/10. It felt much more like a Bond film that the previous title, the character was advanced appropriately, and they found a way to work the prequels into normal continuity, if they choose to go that route. All good things.

The not so good things are the deviations from what makes a film a true Bond film. First, for me anyways, was the lack of gadgets. It's silly to want them (to the point they even joke about it in the film), but they've been a series staple. A quick joke and a tiny radio (oh, and a once-off gun) can't undo 20-something movies worth of gadgets, even if they're inane. Give me that damn exploding pen, I thank you.

Second, there was no identifiable Bond girl. There were two female roles, but they were HEAVILY sidelined, even compared to the other films in the trilogy. I'm sure arguments could be made with this point -- there's probably a heap of opinion backing me up, but that's how I'm calling it.

The third, and killer point for me, is that James Bond is made to look like a failure the entire movie. Oh, sure, he does cool things that I won't spoil here, but he has no outstanding success that we'd expect from a matured Bond. But wait, they do make a deal about his age... to the point that he's past mature and going on old. That's one glaring issue with these being a potential setup for the rest of the series -- Sean Connery was no spring chicken, I guess, but it's hard to imagine an "aging agent" is the elite 007 for the rest of the series.
You know, this series.

So, to summarize, I enjoyed the film for what it was but can't give it the full appreciation to say it lived up to the Bond name.

I'll look forward to hearing some news about the next film to see what they've really got planned.

Someone please argue with me in the comment section!

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