movies: skyfall

I want to set the tone for this review by saying that when Skyfall was over, what I really wanted to do was get up and run around in circles, yelling "SQUUEEEEEE" at the top of my voice.

After two movies with Daniel Craig in the role of Bond, James Bond, I finally feel like we've gotten a proper Bond movie.

Skyfall feels exotic, it feels big and bold and brassy. It has brilliant moments of classic Bond action. And it had me bouncing in my seat on more than one occasion with a big stupid grin on my face.

I'd just like to get the one thing that I didn't like out of the way first so that I can go on and gush about everything that's right about this movie.

Unfortunately, the thing that was wrong with Skyfall is, in part, one of the things that was wrong with both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

The villain, played this time around by Javier Bardem, didn't feel especially threatening or all that charismatic. He's not Auric Goldfinger, he's not Francisco Scaramanga, he's not Kananga, he's not Franz Sanchez... in fact he feels a little bit like a mix of Alec Trevelyan and Renard but without the charisma of either. He's basically a nutjob with some unresolved Mummy issues.

And unfortunately there's a little bit of Mr Wint and Mr Kidd in there... with the horrible yellow hair and the slightly effeminate attitude. It felt... dated and a little bit like "really, we're doing THIS in 2012?".

Having said that though... it is surprisingly a very minor complaint in what was otherwise an exemplary movie. And not just an exemplary Bond movie, just as a movie, period.

Writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have put together a brilliant script full of sharp and wonderfully acerbic dialogue with not only some moments of brilliant humour, but also a ton of references to Bond's 50 years of movie history. There was a bunch of stuff I did catch but I'm sure that there was a whole ton of stuff that completely went whizzing past me.

The chemistry between Craig and Judi Dench has always been incredibly strong, but Skyfall allows them possibly the most face-to-face time yet, and they're brilliant together.

Equally brilliant in her interactions with Craig is Naomie Harris as fellow MI6 agent, Eve... the two of them have some of the best dialogue in the movie... and for a movie with dialogue that is as good as this, that's saying something. Harris is the perfect counterpoint to Craig's Bond and their scenes remind me of some of the brilliant dialogue from all those 30's and 40's movies I love so much.

Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Ben Whishaw all have perfect character moments (the casting of Whishaw as the new Q is absolutely spot on, although every now and again I did get a very Voldemort vibe from Fiennes which was a little weird) and once again I come back to how incredibly sharp the script is that, with the possible exception of Bardem, nobody really puts a foot wrong.

Director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins have constructed a truly gorgeous movie. Which is really no great surprise given some of the movies that Deakins has worked on in the past, including his previous collaboration with Mendes, Revolutionary Road which was stunningly beautiful.

Deakins does manage to make even the most mundane of shots gorgeous though... it's easy to make the bright lights of Shanghai beautiful (and they really are spectacular) or to show the Scottish highlands as mysterious and foreboding, but there were two shots, one of Dench with a collection of flag draped coffins and another of water and steam on glass as Bond seduces his way to the villain that amazed me with how stunningly beautiful they were.

And the action... both the photography and choreography of all the action scenes feel like proper, classic James Bond action. The fight scenes aren't all shaky-cam and impossible to work out who's doing what to who... Deakins pulls the camera back and actually let's us see what's going on.

Even the opening title sequence was the best of the three Craig movies. While I didn't really like the Adele song when I first heard it, it does work perfectly as the title song, and they've gone back to the basics of naked ladies without quite as much wanky computer generated imagery for the title sequence.

Skyfall is the Bond movie that I've been waiting for since Craig took the reigns... it pays homage to the legacy of the character without falling into self parody or being too "wink wink" at the audience.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout the entire movie and I can't quite remember when I last sat in a theatre with such a big smile on my face for almost the entire 143 minute running time. Even with my complaint about Bardem, Skyfall both lived up to my hopes and exceeded my expectations.

yani's rating: 5 porcelain bulldogs out of 5

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