Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes
, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear
Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan, Ian Fleming (characters)
Daniel Craig is back as James Bond 007 in Skyfall, the 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise in history ... In Skyfall, Bond's loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past returns to haunt her. 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. When Bond's latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows - aided only by field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) - following a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.
$88.364 million on 3505 screens.
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian DTS 5.1
Russian DTS 5.1
Ukrainian Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 143 min.
Release Date: 2/12/2013
• Audio Commentary with Director Sam Mendes
• Audio Commentary with Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner
• 14 “Shooting Bond” Featurettes
• “Skyfall Premiere” Featurette
• Trailer and Previews
• DVD Copy
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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
Skyfall [Blu-Ray] (2012)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 22, 2013)
Back in 2006, Casino Royale introduced Daniel Craig as the new James Bond with a bang. Arguably one of the franchise’s five best efforts, Royale made a boatload of money and reinvigorated the series, as it attracted fans old and new along with universally glowing reviews.
In 2008, Quantum of Solace attempted to continue this resurgence, and in a financial sense, it succeeded, as Solace gained box office receipts virtually identical to those of Royale. However, viewers appeared less enthused about it, as the film showed much worse “legs” than its predecessor. While Royale took in only 25 percent of its US total in its opening weekend, Solace came with a much more front-loaded gross that gave it 40 percent of its sum over those first few days.
Solace also got significantly worse reviews than Royale, and for a logical reason: it’s not nearly as good a movie. Personally, I found Solace to deliver a crushing disappointment. If I’d put Royale in the top five, I’d place Solace in the bottom five – and maybe the bottom one.
This left 2012’s Skyfall as the “tie-breaker”. Would it remind us of Royale’s glories or continue to downward spiral seen with Solace?
Happily, it offered a closer echo of Royale than its immediate predecessor. While I don’t like Skyfall as much as Royale, at least it offers a significant rebound after the anonymous Solace.
MI6 agent James Bond (Craig) chases Patrice (Ola Rapace), a mercenary who steals a computer file that contains the identities of many undercover operatives. During a fight on top of a train, fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) accidentally shoots Bond; 007 falls into a river and becomes presumed dead.
If true, that’d make for a short film, so of course, Bond reappears eventually. Before this occurs, though, hackers infiltrate MI6 and taunt chief “M” (Dame Judi Dench). Terrorist actions ensue, and these prompt Bond – who’d been in unofficial retirement – to return to London so he can help defend the organization. This sets him on the trail of Silva (Javier Bardem), a former agent with a deadly grudge.
It took 50 years and the franchise’s 23rd “official” film, but Skyfall brought something new to Bond: an Oscar-winning director. While that acts as a kind of coup, Sam Mendes doesn’t seem like a logical match for the Bond franchise. He made his name with 1999’s suburban drama American Beauty and over Mendes’s career, only 2005’s military drama Jarhead appears to “fit” the action/violence required here.
So how does Mendes do in his maiden voyage as a big-budget action director? Pretty well, though I don’t agree with the wild-eyed raves the movie received. As I mentioned earlier, Skyfall represents a major upgrade over Quantum of Solace, but I wouldn’t place it among the best Bonds.
My main complaints relate to the film’s first half. After a good opening sequence, the story tends to plod. Some of this offers important development for both the plot and Bond himself, at times the narrative feels flabby and without much purpose. If the viewer forgets the overall arc, that viewer should be forgiven, as the filmmakers also appear to lose track at times.
In an unusual twist, we don’t meet Silva until roughly the movie’s halfway point. A handful of prior Bond flicks waited that long to introduce Bond’s main adversary, but even so, Skyfall keeps Silva from the viewer for an unusually long time.
That could’ve been a misstep, but it works and helps propel the movie well during its second half. The second 70-or-so minutes do a lot to redeem the erratic nature of that first half, though one scene creates a major problem. (Warning – spoiler ahead!)
When Silva captures Bond, the villain forces 007 to try to shoot a shot glass off the head of love interest Sévérine (Bérénice Lim Marlohe). Bond misses the glass and the girl, but Silva then kills her.
Rather than play the scene for any form of pathos or drama, Skyfall immediately gives Bond a cynical witticism and then brings in the cavalry to save the day. We get no time for shock or mourning after the cold-blooded murder of Sévérine, as the film goes for a big hero moment.
This feels shocking, but not in a good way. The scene makes Bond look completely cold-hearted. Though the filmmakers could’ve allowed Bond some sense of regret and depict his one-liner as a defense mechanism, this doesn’t occur. I get the feeling we’re supposed to laugh at the wisecrack and then applaud when Bond’s allies arrive.
Sorry, but I can’t do that. Sévérine’s death seems wholly unnecessary, especially given the ease with which Bond disarms his opponents. Maybe there’s some story reason that the filmmakers felt Sévérine had to die, but I can’t think of it. Her murder seems gratuitous and mean-spirited; it’s a definite blot on the film.
Which is too bad since so much of the rest works well. As I mentioned, the first half tends to be spotty, but once we get past the ugliness of the Sévérine scene, the remainder functions in a positive manner.
A lot of the credit goes to Bardem, as he creates one of the most engaging Bond villains in quite some time. He provides easily the best baddie since Sean Bean in GoldenEye, as Bardem develops a solid character. He’s just fey enough to toy with our expectations for a former agent, but he also displays the traits of the cold-blooded psychopath in a convincing enough manner to make him a believable threat to Bond. Bardem avoids overplaying aspects of the part and turns Silva into a dynamic antagonist.
Along with a narrative that builds toward a vivid action finale, Skyfall manages to overcome it various weaknesses. Again, I don’t consider this to be great Bond – it’s not even my favorite of the three Daniel Craig offerings – but it’s a good movie that brings the series back to prominence after the awful misstep we got with Quantum of Solace.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A/ Bonus A-
Skyfall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Across the board, the movie boasted a terrific transfer.
Sharpness excelled. Virtually no softness materialized here, as the film was consistently tight and accurate I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also weren’t a factor in this clean presentation.
Some of the film opted for a somewhat amber palette, while other scenes went with stylized blues and the like. These choices limited the color range, but I thought the hues looked solid given those decisions, and some of the more vivid scenes – like those in Shanghai - dazzled. Blacks were deep and dense, and shadows showed clear definition; low-light and nighttime shots offered positive visuals. This was the kind of strong image one would expect from a brand-new big-budget studio effort.
Similar praise greeted the intense DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Skyfall. I expect a lot of action from a Bond movie, and that was what I got here. From start to finish, the movie used all five channels as nearly constant partners. Music filled the whole spectrum in a satisfying way, and effects demonstrated tremendous breadth.
Skyfall certainly gave the audio plenty of opportunities to excel, and it delivered. The components showed fine localization and blending; everything came from the right spot and the pieces fit together in a smooth way.
Audio quality lived up to the standards of the soundfield. Music was bold and dynamic, and speech seemed concise and crisp. Effects demonstrated terrific range; highs were tight, and lows seemed deep and full. Bass response added a real kick and gave the movie great power. Everything worked here and this became an engrossing sound experience.
When we move to the set’s extras, we launch with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Sam Mendes as he delivers a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, sets and locations, camerawork and production design, stunts and action, cast and performances, music and the opening credits, various effects, editing and pacing, and working within the Bond series.
From start to finish, Mendes offers an excellent chat. He comes at the commentary with a lot of energy and gives us strong insights through the whole length of the movie. Mendes’ tracks for prior movies worked well, and that trend continues via this terrific piece.
For the second commentary, we hear from producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and production designer Dennis Gassner. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of the same subjects Mendes covered, though with Gassner in tow, we get a higher emphasis on production design.
If you only want to listen to one commentary, go with the Mendes chat, as it offers by far the superior discussion. If you want to screen both of them, go with this one first so you won’t have to compare it to the Mendes commentary. On its own, the producers/design piece is passable, but it’s a massive step down after Mendes.
This means we get a decent amount of info from Broccoli, Wilson and Gassner, but they can’t fill out the film’s 143 minutes very well. We find dead spots and an awful lot of praise, as substantial chunks of the commentary just tell us how great everything/everyone was. Overall, the chat isn’t a total loss, but it’s not especially informative.
Under Shooting Bond, we get 14 featurettes with a total running time of 59 minutes, 24 seconds. In these, we hear from Mendes, Wilson, Broccoli, Gassner, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, 1st AD Michael Lerman, stunt coordinator Gary Powell, action vehicles Simon Thomas, location manager Martin Joy, 2nd unit director Alexander Witt, title sequence director Daniel Kleinman, screenwriters Rob Wade, Neal Purvis and John Logan, composer Thomas Newman, trumpet player Derek Watkins, art director Dean Clegg, fight choreographer Nikki Berwick, pilot Andy Strachan, aerial coordinator Marc Wolff, director of photography Roger Deakins, explosives engineer Charlie Adcock, diving coordinator David Shaw, underwater director of photography Mike Valentine, and actors Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Ola Rapace, Javier Bardem, Wayne Gordon and Albert Finney. The featurettes follow the movie in story order; along the way, we learn about stunts, effects and action, vehicles, gadgets and weapons, sets and locations, cast and performances, the title sequence, music, narrative and characters, camerawork and visual design, and general thoughts.
Given the episodic structure of “Shooting”, I feared it’d feel disjointed. Happily, it flows pretty well, so it comes across like a pretty natural documentary. Though we get some repeated info from the commentaries, the many additional perspectives allows the featurettes to flesh out the subjects in a positive way. “Shooting” delivers a strong examination of the production.
Skyfall Premiere lasts four minutes, 28 seconds. As expected, it takes us to the red carpet and throws out quick thoughts from Harris, Craig, Mendes, Logan, Powell, Fiennes, Wilson, Bardem, Marlohe, Whishaw, and costume designer Jany Temime. It can be marginal fun to see some of the celebs at the premiere, but otherwise, this feels like fluff.
The disc opens with ads for the “Bond 50” Blu-ray set and Red Dawn. These also pop up under Sneak Peek along with promos for A Good Day to Die Hard, Taken 2, Broken City, Hitchcock, Marine 3 and Shadow Dancer. We get the trailer and a soundtrack promotional spot for Skyfall as well.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Skyfall. This is a bare-bones affair with no extras on it.
Even when we adjust for inflation, Skyfall ends up among the three most successful Bond movies of all-time. I don’t view it as one of the three – or even five – best Bond flicks, but it overcomes a few prominent missteps to become a satisfying 007 adventure. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio as well as a nice selection of bonus materials. Unlike its immediate predecessor, Skyfall makes me excited to see where Bond goes from here.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1052 Stars|| Number of Votes: 57|