Category Archives: ian fleming
Skyfall ~ This twenty-third official James Bond film, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the movie franchise, seems to be at odds with itself in my opinion. There is a passion by the filmmakers to acknowledge the past here even as they backburner and mock it. To quote the new Q as he hands Bond simply a gun and radio, “What did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that sort of thing anymore.” Much of the dialogue and the plot is dedicated toward saying the Bond way is passé, over with in this day and age, while simultaneously saying it’s needed. It is a nice balance.
I was not a fan of the first two Daniel Craig Bond films, not because of Craig’s humorless performance, or that they were rebooting the franchise for a new audience, mind you, but more because I resented them putting Pierce Brosnan out to pasture. I enjoyed Pierce quite a bit in the role. And actually Craig does a subtle humorous turn and smirk in this one. He’s winning me over. Daniel Craig is book perfect when it comes to James Bond, but I’ve been spoiled by the movie versions, and expect a little something extra, ya know?
What really brought this film to life for me was director Sam Mendes. His stunning and startlingly different visuals light up and dim the screen significantly and lend specific mood and atmosphere to every sequence. Most stunning are the Shanghai scenes, beautiful camera work. I recently had the chance to peruse and review Greg Williams’ book Bond on Set: Filming Skyfall over at Biff Bam Pop!, and while an amazing picture book, it doesn’t hold a candle to the actual film in vibrancy and spectacle.
Craig is flawless, as is Judi Dench as M, and new girl Naomie Harris, and Ralph Fiennes is a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved Ben Whishaw as the new Q, but that was easy because I love him in everything he’s in, especially “The Hour.” A major complaint however comes in the form of Javier Bardem as the villain Raoul Silva. Not just over the top evil like most Bond villains, but he’s also a bit creepy in a stereotype homosexual pedophile kind of way, so creepy in fact, that he comes off like a bad joke. He is as out of place in a Bond flick as say… Jaws and his girlfriend in Moonraker. For a franchise trying to upscale itself in the audience’s eyes, Bardem was a mistake.
The opening action sequence is perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in a while (Tomorrow Never Dies is still my favorite). The title theme song by Adele better than average and appropriate. What makes me sad is that for a movie that embraces its heritage, gives nods to its history, and celebrates its characters, even adding to their origins – it seems to back step into a simple vengeance storyline rather than a clever spy thriller – which is what it should be. I mean, let’s face it, the last sequences of this film could have easily been a Denzel action flick or perhaps another Die Hard. Revenge is the easy way out. I want to see Bond save the world, for Queen and for Country.
All that said, I really enjoyed this movie, from the fantastic visuals of director Mendes to the titanic score by Thomas Newman, Skyfall was a terrific Bond film. Recommended.
This is the second of the rebooted James Bond series starring Daniel Craig as the classic Ian Fleming character. I have always had trouble with the concept of having to tell the origin of the hero. Think of the old movie serials, no origins, we were just dropped into a good exciting story, given a one or two line synopsis of our hero, and rolling with it. In many ways, it’s what we have been doing with James Bond for decades.
Here in Quantum of Solace, which takes place just minutes after the closing of Casino Royale (2006), we are still dealing with a assumedly green Bond, whose first mission ended in death and defeat. Not what I want at all. Sure, there may be such a beginning for Bond, but I want my confident, capable and virtually indestructible super-spy, not his wet-behind-the-ears baptism-by-fire wannabe starter. Furthermore, the Bond we get here is a vengeful killer, not the man of honor and action or the gentleman assassin we’re used to. He didn’t even get this bad when his wife was murdered years ago. Surely this Vesper chick wasn’t more special than Diana Rigg?
The cinematography is equally inappropriate. Bond is not Bourne, nor should it be. I don’t think the fast cut, moving camera effects are suitable for Bond. Just my opinion, but when one goes to see a Bond film, after more than twenty in the can, there are certain things one should expect. Shaky cam isn’t one of them. I’m not liking the stylized title cards for places at the start of scene changes either. Too… comic booky, especially in a franchise trying to remove itself from a camp perspective. And why the need to riff on the opening of Goldfinger in oil? More tacky than homage, and it barely makes sense in the story anyway.
Killer song this time out, “Another Way to Die” by Jack White and Alicia Keys, and it’s probably the best thing about this movie. And that’s sad. I found the music video included on the DVD to be more entertaining than the film’s title sequence, and that’s even sadder. When you can’t even get a Bond title sequence right, that’s bad.
Finally, the last thing I should feel while watching a James Bond movie is bored, and I felt it here. It had action, it even had a couple trademark outlandish Bond chases scenes but for the most part I found myself bored and distracted by this latest entry in the series. I’m unsure if I’m looking forward to the next one. Daniel Craig impressed me in Casino Royale, but not here. Any chance of Pierce Brosnan coming back? Hell, I’d take Roger Moore at this point.
This isn’t just a bad James Bond movie. It’s a bad movie, period.
2006’s Casino Royale was a fantastic action flick, and a serious return and restart for the James Bond franchise. If I had one nitpick about it, it would be that it was missing the wit and wry sense of humor the Bond films had developed over the years. While it’s true it wasn’t something that was a major part of Ian Fleming’s books, it was sorely missing in that film. I’m guessing that it will definitely be gone in this second installment, Quantum of Solace, a Fleming story in name only, with James out for revenge. So very unBond-like.