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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Spectre (2015)

November 20, 2015 1 comment
Spectre (2015)Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenplay by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Story by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Edited by: Lee Smith
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Music by: Thomas Newman, Sam Smith (theme)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona, Judi Dench
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2015

 

It’s been three years since the release of the last James Bond film, Skyfall, but it seems as though a mere matter months have passed by the time Spectre begins, with Bond tracking down an assassin named Marco Sciarra, who is suspected of having ties to a larger organization that has been causing headaches for MI6 and, more generally, the world at large. Fans of the series, particularly those who have either read the books or seen the older films, will by no means have any trouble quickly knowing exactly what organization Sciarra is working for (hint: it’s in the title) as well as what this will likely mean for the Bond franchise going forward. Your enthusiasm for the film and the implications of this organization’s presence from here on out will largely depend upon one’s devotion to the series and whether you’re willing to accept that the more serious, grounded, and gritty Bond films that began with the Daniel Craig era of films were pretty much always going to build up to this from the very beginning. And even if you’re willing to accept this inevitable return to a refreshed but familiar form, what few surprises Spectre does have in store for audiences will actually be a far greater point of contention than the choice to continue moving these films “backward” in terms of tone and grandiosity. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “Skyfall”

November 13, 2012 1 comment
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Cinematography by: Roger Deakins
Music by: Thomas Newman (score), Adele (title song)
Editing by: Stuard Baird, Kate Baird
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney
Based on the characters created by Ian Fleming
Year: 2012

 

One of the best things about Skyfall, Bond movie #23, is that, being released on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise means that it gets a bit of leeway for being a bit reverential towards its series legacy. Fans of the series from any era will find a few bits here and there to point at and go, “Hey, look!” A lot of franchises do this on their anniversaries, and the Bond franchise even went and did this ten years ago, when Die Another Day was released as not only the 20th Bond movie, but also on the somewhat less glamorous 40th anniversary of the film franchise.

Whereas that film felt more like an exploitation of the series history through a poorly assembled “Greatest Hits” compilation, however, Skyfall feels more like a reverential tribute that smartly takes these well known and celebrated elements (ridiculous stunts, expensive gadgetry, eccentric villains, and sweeping theme songs) and reworks them to fit into the new tone set in place by the reboot films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. From the opening gambit onward, director Sam Mendes establishes this tone with a great mix of the old and new, as Bond is faced with not just physical struggles, but also emotional and personal struggles.

(Very mild spoilers ahead.) Read more…

Trailer: “Skyfall” Teaser

Hey, everyone! So I’ve got a new review coming which I will be working on tonight:K-Pax. It’s kind of an odd film starring Kevin Spacey that came out quite a while ago, and, while, it was on my radar at the time, I mostly ignored it when the reviews started coming in denouncing its quality. It currently holds a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, and, really, since then, I’d kinda forgotten it existed up until I decided to outsource my viewing habits to a friend who doesn’t really watch movies. Oddly enough, that was his suggestion. How did I like it? Well, you’ll just have to read the review. How’s that for a tease?

Anyway, speaking of teasers (How do you like that segue?), Kevin Spacey’s friend Sam Mendes (I assume they’re friends since Spacey was in Mendes’ big break, American Beauty, but that may be me being naive about how Hollywood platonic relationships work) has a new teaser trailer out, and it’s for a film that looks much better than K-Pax — at least from an aesthetic perspective. The teaser trailer, of course, is for the next James Bond film, Skyfall:

So, what does this tell us about the next Bond film? Well… not much, really. Starts out with a few word associations as Bond is debriefed/interrogated(?) as onlookers M (Dame Judi Dench), Agent Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), and I believe MI6 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear, whose work I’m not too familiar with) look on with concern. Bond seems to keep his cool, even sort of reveling in his clever association with the word “murder” and “employment,” but when they come to the word “Skyfall,” it all suddenly turns grim as Bond flashes back to the mission and ends the session.

Obviously, this being a teaser trailer and all, very little plot is given away, but we do know that the plot deals with an attack on MI6 and Bond’s loyalty to M and the agency. This jibes with the images of coffins draped with the Union Jack and Bond stating in the end, “Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.” Much of what comes in between is standard fare for teasers, banging music and all. New locales, a few brief, ambiguous explosions and scenes of Bond either staring intently in exotic locales or engaging in daring acts of violence and destruction, and, of course, a few brief glimpses at the Bond girls, Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe.

That all being said, this does look to be one of the prettiest Bond films. I think the imagery is very strong in this film. It’s dark with accents of neon color, but, at least from what I can tell from the trailer, not in a sense that the film looks tacky like, say, Mission: Impossible II did (and that was an ugly action film). Sam Mendes has an eye for visuals, and so I’m expecting this to at least be a great-looking film.

What don’t we see in this trailer? Aside from more plot, we still don’t have any glimpses of Javier Bardem as the film’s villain, nor do we see the return of the long absent gadget-supplier Q, who is making his re-debut in this film with the much younger Ben Winshaw taking the place once filled by Desmond Llewelyn and briefly by Peter Burton (Dr. No) and John Cleese (Die Another Day).

Altogether, it’s a serviceable teaser, but not much else. It got me excited, however, but then again, that’s what it’s supposed to do and the film could still turn out crap despite any number of trailers. We’ll just have to wait for more meaty trailers to come out in the meantime before we pass judgment on whether this looks worthy enough to satiate our desires for another Casino Royale. In the meantime (shameless plug alert, why not go speculate about who will do the theme song for this film by checking out my overview of all the Bond themes up to this point?

Here are your convenient links:

James Bond: The Themes – Part 1

James Bond: The Themes – Part 2

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