Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: "Skyfall"

Cross posted from the MoviePass blog:

In my closet, I proudly store several boxes of VHS tapes. Some are pro wrestling pay per views and tv shows and some are movies I watched repeatedly as a kid. Of course, VCR's don't replay the tape - they just rewind and shut down themselves. But, I would always make sure to pop the cassette back in, and watch again. "Singin' in the Rain", "Casablanca" and, of course, "Moonraker" make up the collection.

Yes, "Moonraker". And I type that proudly.

The idea of sending a popular character into space has been used in many criticisms of hack filmmakers, used when a franchise has reached its peak, and is running thin on gimmicks (cough "Jason X" cough). Yes, James Bond was shot into space. But is he out of gimmicks? No. Has he reached his peak? Some of his friends and foes seem to think so.

In his latest adventure "Skyfall", Daniel Craig's Bond kicks things off with an exhilarating chase, then getting shot off a train. He reappears in M's house, classically in the shadows. When she turns the light on, he is weathered as hell; unshaven and weak. He struggles to get back into agent mode - at one point leading to the accidental death of a henchman - and is asked, at every turn, if he has "lost a step". We might be 3 movies in, but this new series has now acknowledged its own staying power.

I read somewhere that you can judge a Bond film on the strength of the villain. Javier Bardem's Silva is strong and creepy. Really creepy. Characters speak of him with a sense of fear. When we are finally introduced to him, the camera stays in one place, making Silva slowly walk to us. It's as if the lens is afraid to get too close.

I also have heard that Bond stories are best when completely ridiculous, jet packs and space ships included. "Skyfall" has action, but it's all pretty practical. "Skyfall" has style, but it's not overdone. This movie might be the most mature and level headed spy flick I've ever seen. Sure, it's fun when our hero fights a mad scientist with plans to blow up the planet, or uses an Adam West style weapon (shark repellant) to get out of a sticky situation, but that stuff is for the kids.

I just recently bought a blu ray player. It sits on top of my VCR. My videos stay in my closet, collecting dust and waiting to be recycled. Sometimes, you have to move forward and realize you've grown up. Sometimes, you prefer a traditional tracking radio to a high tech pair of glasses with GPS and spring loaded tranquilizer darts. Sometimes, you want more "Skyfall" and less "Moonraker". There is something bittersweet about being an adult...       

4/5 *'s

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