Skyfall Review

Skyfall is quite the film. I loved Casino Royale, it was just this perfect telling of James Bond’s first mission and I couldn’t help but think I’d never see a better Bond film. It was that good. I’m also one of the few who loved Quantum of Solace. Was it Casino Royale? No, and it wasn’t trying to be. It was Quantum of Solace, a fast-paced and precisely devised action film that continued the real and raw drama that began in Casino Royale. Skyfall was something completely new and not only is it the greatest 007 movie I’ve seen, it’s one of the greatest films ever made.

The film opens with a black and blurry silhouette of a man. The man walks towards us eventually having his eyes illuminated revealing the pearly blues of the greatest James Bond in 50 years and 23 films. The film jumps right into it with a thrilling chase sequence, the kind of action you have to expect from the Daniel Craig versions of the character. The scene is a better action sequence than any of the previous Craig movies and there were even better action sequences still to come. If one were to look at the film for its action elements it’s one of the best ever crafted, but action plays second tear in this epic of characters, emotion and the ways of old and new.

While no Bond film has ever cut deeper with such powerful themes, the true center of this film is James Bond. It’s his show and in this perfect 007 movie James Bond may go on his most spectacular mission yet, but that’s not all. Director Sam Mendes actually takes his time and asks questions about this character who has been going on missions for the past 50 years. For example, what makes James Bond James Bond? But more importantly he asks, how much longer can this man be doing this? In Skyfall, the greatest secret agent of all time must prove himself against the most formidable and sinister adversary he’ll ever face.

Raoul Silva (formerly Tiago Rodriguez) is a malevolent mastermind not bent on world domination mind you. No, he’s much more concerned with revenge against the person who means most to Bond in this world. A good villain usually makes for a good movie and Silva is one of the greatest villains in film. In the beginning, there is a mystery that is the villain of Skyfall, with only whispers of some evil menace plotting in the backdrop. Then Silva makes his grand entrance almost halfway through the film, his audience being a captive 007. Silva is a theatrical and confident man with a single agenda, he’s a former MI6 agent and now he’s a betrayer dedicated and bent on vengeance against M. James Bond is dedicated to his duty and in this case it’s very personal; the protection of M.

Judi Dench is given much more territory with M this time around and she excels with it. Bérénice Marlohe and Naomie Harris are great. Ben Whishaw is a real delight to watch as Q, a new school tech guy who juxtaposes extraordinarily with Daniel Craig’s seasoned veteran. The Skyfall interpretation of James Bond and Raoul Silva are simply two of the greatest characters in film. Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem have their unique characters realized down to a “T” both giving tremendous performances.

Skyfall is a film that is very derivative of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down). Sam Mendes has openly stated that he was inspired by Nolan’s work with Batman. I can’t fault Mendes for being inspired by the best. Skyfall is a different film and it was made to perfection. It utilized an icon to delve into broader motifs and darker territory. This is a James Bond film made by people and for people who appreciate the beautiful art form that is film.

Skyfall is one of the greatest films I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. It’s a film that looks and feels beautiful. It emotes so much depth and artistry, while masquerading as a simple action piece. This is just an example of a film getting every single finite detail perfectly, whether that be a character arc, the film’s extraordinary structure or even something as simple as a one-liner. Skyfall is nothing short of a masterpiece of the highest caliber.

Grade: A+

Advertisements

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Review

I’d like to open this review by being as blunt as the movie I’m reviewing; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a masterpiece. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery, it’s an examination of family values gone wrong, it’s a character study, it’s a portrait of the violence and cruelty the average person tries to pretend doesn’t exist, it’s gritty, it’s raw, it holds no punches as it shouldn’t, it’s fascinating, it’s compelling, it envelops the idea of truly extraordinary filmmaking and yes it is a masterpiece.

I had not read the book before seeing this film nor had I seen the Swedish version of the film. This gave me the opportunity to view this film with out an ounce of prejudice. I wasn’t judging the movie based on how similar it was to the book or if it was better than the swedish version of the film, I was able to simply experience it for what it was, a spectacular film. This was the first time I was to take in this particular story and I have no regrets because this film was spectacular.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tells the dark, and I mean dark, tale of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist and their involvement behind the mystery of Harriet Vanger and her disappearance 40 years ago. I obviously don’t know how much screenwriter Steven Zaillan did in adapting this story for the screen, but the writing was real and enthralling. For coming up with such a calculated and phenomenal story, the true praise here belongs to author Stieg Larrson.

The performances here are more than what you’d expect from great cinema. Christopher Plummer is simply an amazing actor and his work here speaks for itself. Stellan Skarsgard is also always a pleasure to watch and the same goes for his performance in this film. Whether it’s in a good movie or a bad movie, there is just something about Daniel Craig that I find appealing as an actor. In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he plays what may be the most human character he’s ever played and plays him with that same appeal. None of those performances were as demanding and incredible as the star of the film.

Rooney Mara as the rebellious and layered Lisbeth Salander is a revelation of potent prowess. Lisbeth Salander is fascinating creation of strong will and self-proclaimed insanity, a character so captivating and memorable that only a truly brilliant performance would suffice. That’s the exact performance you’ll find from Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Every deliverance of a line, facial expression, or gesture is just exquisite. This is a performance that most actors can only give in their dreams.

The direction here is quite honestly indescribable. David Fincher has done something here that you really have to see to believe. Every shot, every music cue, every finite detail is treated with respect and the result is a flawless movie. My second favorite David Fincher film is The Social Network and Fight Club is Fincher’s magnum opus. However, in terms of the scope, the filmmaking and the pure craft of it all The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is second to none. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the kind of film that serves as a reminder of what a perfect movie is.

Grade: A+

Cowboys & Aliens Review

Before the film Cowboys & Aliens even came out I noticed that many people I talked to or read online were appalled by the very idea of the film. I never got, Cowboys & Aliens had a fantastic idea. If aliens are so advanced and its plausible that they can invade our time, how is it not plausible that they can invade the old west? The idea was fantastic, but when it came to the actual film, for the most part, that’s all that was there, a great idea.

I don’t want to be too harsh on the film because I did find enjoyment in a majority of this film, but it essentially seemed that Jon Favreau just thought wouldn’t it be cool if cowboys and aliens were in a movie together, and then just ran with it. There was not much of an attempt to throw a compelling plot at all. It felt like the filmmakers didn’t care how good their plot was because, hell, they were making a movie in which cowboys and aliens were fighting.

Where many masterful pieces of originality attempt to delve deeper into the tale at hand, Cowboys & Aliens stayed above water. Of course there’s a lot of fun to be had, I mean its COWBOYS and ALIENS, but I just found myself a bit angered because the potential for a pretty great film was squandered to make your average summer blockbuster film. Fortunately I did end up getting my fill of amazing this year, in regards to an alien movie, in the film Attack the Block, but that’s to be discussed at another time.

There were some pros to be had here. Harrison Ford was fun as the sometimes brutal owner of the town. And ever since Layer Cake I’ve been a huge advocate of Daniel Craig. He does just as well here. I can’t however wait for him to act in some type of dramatic piece, because every ounce of me knows he can do it, and he can do it very well. Can anyone say, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Either way, Cowboys & Alienshad some pretty awesome action sequences and some very cool aliens that certainly deviated themselves from other film aliens while still being completely menacing. Though while being entertained by Cowboys & Aliens, its not hard to realize the obvious truth. Cowboys & Aliens took a pretty great and original idea and managed to make it a very generic film.

Grade: B-

Quantum of Solace Review

Let me preface this review by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, but there is no doubt that I enjoyed Casino Royale much better. Casino Royale managed to change the entire Bond series for the better. It took the campy and corny old Bonds and brought them into the real world. 007 became a realistic action/drama movie, and for the most part Quantum sticks to the rules that Casino Royale set for it. 

Quantum of Solace is the story of James Bond finding a large quantity (quantum) of comfort (solace) in the avenging of a person he loved. In order to do so he must cross paths with a personal extremist named Dominic Greene who happens to control a company called Quantum that is trying to own the world’s must precious material. A different direction was took with this movie. It was extremely fast-paced and the running time was cut to the point of extreme. I loved the fast-paced direction it was going in, but it felt at times that the movie was rushing to its end instead of telling all the juicy details. 

Every action sequence was Bondish, but at the same time being very creative and intense. The dialogue was well-thought out and so were the character developments. Daniel Craig is great and I hope he does more with his career, but right now there is no one I would rather see playing this character. I loved the movie, but there are one large complaint I have with it. The greatest gimmick in film history ended because of this movie. In every single one of the 21 bond movies before this one, the line “the name’s bond, james bond” is uttered somewhere, but this movie just ended that tradition. And the question I ask is why?

For that reason, I was very mad walking out of the theater, but I can’t look past the fact that this was an extremely entertaining and well-thought out action movie that was at times even epic. The movie could’ve been better if it just changed a few simple details. I look back at my viewing and I see that I did just watch a very good movie that made one big mistake. Overall, Quantum of Solace was an extremely good movie and would have without question gotten an A+ from yours truly if it just said one more line.

Grade: A-

The Golden Compass

When I saw the trailer for this, I was like wow, looks the same as the Chronicles of Narnia, then I saw that it was rated PG-13 and I got kind of excited. I thought it would be a violent version of Chronicles of Narnia. Then I heard rumors that the first Dark Knight trailer would be playing for The Golden Compass, so I told myself I had to see it and I did. I was extremely disappointed by this movie. First of all, NO DARK KNIGHT TRAILER!!!! Second of all, if you’re gonna make a movie PG-13, make it PG-13, there was only one scene in the whole movie that needed a PG-13 rating. Everything else could’ve been PG, that really pissed me off because there were a couple of scenes that could’ve been a lot better if they just stuck to there rating, it felt like they forgot that they rated the movie PG-13 when they were making it. The other thing that really got on my nerves was the fact that Daniel Craig only had about three lines in the whole movie and they made like he was a main character. The plot of the movie is that a girl named Lyra is trying to save her kidnapped friend from some people named Gobblers, she also has this compass that tells you the answer to any question you ask it, but for some reason she’s the only one who can read it ofcourse. Also, the entire movie, Lyra is trying to figure out what these magic particles called Dust is , so why doesn’t she just ask her stuped little Compass. The only cool idea of this movie was the daemons. Daemons are these animal companions that are always at your side, these animals are your souls and what ever happens to them also happens to you and vice-versa. This was interesting because any time someone died, their animal would disappear which added to the excitement in a way, it was also cool because you liked to see who had which animals and thinking what kind of animal you wanted. The last thing I would like to say about this movie s that Nicole Kidman did an ok job.Grade: D-