Friday, November 23, 2012

Skyfall




Skyfall

Directed by Sam Mendes



Skyfall, one of my most highly anticipated movies of the year, doesn't quite live up to the hype, but is nonetheless an excellent action movie with a few twists on the Bond formula.

An early action sequence had my hopes dashed, as I found the entire orchestration of it neither thrilling, nor believable. But this was soon forgiven as soon as the incredible opening credits begin, which feature the wonderful original song by Adele. Sadly, after this credits sequence, the movie takes close to an hour to become truly engrossing again. It's not that the first hour was "bad", per se... well, actually, for the most part, I would say it was pretty bad. But if you - like me - find the first act weak, don't worry, it gets better.

And what, you might ask, happens at the roughly 1-hour mark that suddenly makes the film more interesting? Answer is simple: Javier Bardem. As the over-the-top, Hannibal-esque villain with a vendetta, Bardem fills the role wonderfully, channeling the perfect amount of menace and sinister glee to make him both interesting to watch, and threatening to Bond. Luckily, with a villain that has a significantly more emotionally-driven motive, there comes the ability to surprise the audience with the outcome. Bardem is no surprise (as I feel he is one of the best actors currently in the business) but his character is.

One of my main complaints with the movie was how decidedly un-Bond-like it was. Granted, it was much closer to feeling like a Bond movie than its predecessor, 'Quantum Of Solace', but this is equivalent to saying a movie may have been bad, but at least it wasn't as bad as Meet The Spartans. Though it features the famous gun-barrel sequence, trippy opening credits, and has a character named James Bond in the lead role, many of the things that make a traditional Bond movie are missing. But is it so important for James Bond to be trapped in a perpetual limbo, forced to repeat the same formulas again and again for the rest of the series? Though changes have been made, it shouldn't be enough to turn people away from the series. It's merely evolving.

The single thing that stuck with me most after this movie, was the incredible imagery. Sam Mendes (who clearly knows exactly where to point the camera) is not only an excellent screenwriter and director, but has a great feel for visuals, creating some of the most iconic movie images of the year. Extensive use of silhouettes, shadows, and bizarre lighting make this the most visually appealing Bond film ever made, and one of the best looking movies I've seen since The Tree Of Life.

With several useless character additions, a weak first hour, and a few continuity issues that might leave you slightly confused, this is still a very entertaining movie, with some truly great moments. Definitely one of the most well-produced Bond movies I can recall having seen.

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