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Skyfall Blu-ray Review

Skyfall Blu-ray

While flawed, “Skyfall” still has many satisfying geek-out moments for James Bond fans.

The logline: After being left for dead, James Bond returns to action to help stop a cyber terrorist (Silva) who is trying to punish MI6 and M for a past incident.

After the disappointing “Quantum Of Solace” and the intriguing announcement of acclaimed director Sam Mendes taking over directorial duties for “Skyfall,” expectations were understandably high for the 23rd Bond film to be a winner. For the most part, these expectations were met as “Skyfall” was not only critically acclaimed, but a smash hit at the box office (it is currently the highest grossing Bond film of all time).

As a longtime Bond aficionado, I was personally thrilled to see that the franchise is as popular as it has ever been in its 50 years plus on the big screen. With that said, however, I found myself a little puzzled by the over-the-top claims of “Skyfall” being one of the best Bond films ever made. While Bond film rankings are all subjective to be sure, I don’t even think it’s Craig’s best work (that would be “Casino Royale”) let alone one of the 10 best Bond films. For me, it ranks somewhere in the middle of the 23.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, there is much to admire about “Skyfall.” To me, it is a movie filled with great moments (especially if you are a Bond fan). It’s near impossible not to geek out over seeing the return of the Aston Martin (and the classic Bond music) not to mention the introduction of a new Q and a certain other iconic Bond character that I won’t spoil. Add in Adele’s instantly iconic (and award winning) theme song, a dazzling opening and credit sequence, eye popping cinematography by Roger Deakins, an intense cat-and-mouse face-off in a glass building between Bond and Patrice, and a memorable new villain (Silva), and you’re in for an enjoyable viewing experience.

So, what’s the issue you may ask? The screenplay (written by John Logan, Robert Wade and Neal Purvis) contains some very questionable inclusions.

One of the more common complaints about the Daniel Craig era is that it seems to be drifting away from the Bond of old. For some fans, this is refreshing as the franchise was becoming too corny (see “Die Another Day”). For others, it felt like Bond was trying to adapt to what was “hip” in Hollywood (like the the Bourne series and Christopher Nolan Batman movies) by becoming more serious. While I’m all for Bond adapting to a new time period, it does seem to be taking some time to get back to the Bond we all know and love. This is especially evident in “Skyfall” which feels like a glorified set-up film.

After 3 films, you’d think producers Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, and star Daniel Craig would be ready to usher in a new era of Bond, but it still feels like a work in progress. With “Casino Royale,” director Martin Campbell came out of the gate strong with one of the 5 best Bond films (in my humble opinion). With ‘Solace,’ the franchise took a big step backward with a story (and villain) that didn’t grab many fans. Many of the iconic Bond elements were also sadly missing in that installment. Now, with “Skyfall,” the franchise is putting all of the right pieces into place, but we’re still left waiting for him to fully return.

Now, I realize that “Skyfall” had to be told for the story/mythology to move forward, but I can’t help but think this could have been done with ‘Quantum’ and or with more originality. For a story about revenge, M’s past, and Bond trying to recover from near death, the script is riddled with vague plot holes and head-scratching writing choices. Why did M not trust Bond to get the job done at the beginning? What is with the blatant “The Dark Knight” parallels in regards to Silva’s Joker esque antics? Why is Bond recouping on a beach? Why is Bond removing bullet fragments from himself? Why did Bond not take M somewhere safer than Skyfall? Why does Bond let several people die that he could have saved? Why does Silva’s revenge plan seem more nonsensical the more you think about it? The list goes on.

Usually, I can go with the flow on the outlandish Bond plots because, after all, that’s part of the escapist fun. But with “Skyfall,” the plot holes are so apparent that it becomes distracting. The sluggish pacing and the lack of more humor does not help matters either.

Thankfully, the cast manages to make the material convincing enough to still work. In his third outing, Daniel Craig is visibly starting to age (and audibly starting to mumble more), but he proves he can still kick butt when called into action. Javier Bardem, who should have been nominated by the Academy for best supporting actor, is a truly memorable villain here. His first scene with Bond proves to be one of the best of the entire film. In fact, many of the best scenes in the movie are dialogue centric which leads me to another scene-stealing actor- Ben Wishaw (the new cocky Q). Much like the talk between Bond and Silva, Q and Bond’s banter is more electric than just about any action on screen here. I can’t wait to see him in future installments. Naomie Harris, who plays Eve/someone else, makes an impression in her introductory appearance in the franchise. Last, but not least are two MI6 head honchos played by Ralph Fiennes and Judi Dench. Despite limited screentime, Fiennes already shows that he have a unique chemistry with Bond. As for Dench, after playing M since 1995, she still manages to surprise by unveiling new layers to her character (however frustrating they may be).

Video/Audio:

The film, which is presented in 2.40:1 1080p, is arguably one of the best looking Bond films to date thanks to the gorgeous cinematography by the legendary Roger Deakins. From the colorful Shanghai sequences to the picturesque scenery of Scotland, the picture quality is as perfect as it gets.

When it comes to Bond audio tracks, you know nobody does it better and that’s certainly true here. While the quieter Craig dialogue delivery scenes may require some volume adjustment, the action really shines in this 5.1 DTS-HD MA track.

Extras:
* DVD copy, digital copy and Ultraviolet copy.
* “Skyfall Premiere”- Footage of the Royal red carpet premiere event at Royal Albert Hall that contains interviews with the cast and crew.
* MGM trailers, a “Skyfall” theatrical trailer and a soundtrack promo spot.
* “Shooting Bond”- A 14 part featurette that covers the opening, title, and end sequences, 007, Q, the Aston Martin DB5, women, villains, action, locations, music, M, and the future of the franchise. Each segment is pretty brief, but they’re worth a watch for Bond fans.

* A very informative commentary by director Sam Mendes. He talks why the gun barrel didn’t appear at the opening, Pinewood studio sets, the meaning behind the opeing credits, cut scenes, John Bary’s house, humor, visual f/x, the Aston Martin, and much more. One of the best commentary tracks in a long while.
* Commentary by Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson and Dennis Gassner. Nowhere near as engaging as the commentary by Mendes.

Summary: “Skyfall” can be frustrating, but it’s still a solid entry to the Bond series. Plus, no one can deny that the future looks very bright for the franchise for the foreseeable future.

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February 25, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , ,

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