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Skyfall (2012)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/12/2013

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/21/2013

If you asked my opinion of the James Bond films, I would most likely tell you that I'm a casual fan. But, a bit of research shows that this isn't true. Of the 23 main Bond films released thus far, I've only seen 8 of them. If I were truly a casual fan, I would have at least seen half of the series, right? It's not that I avoid the Bond films -- I like the action and the spy stuff -- but I also don't actively seek them out either. (I have seen two in the theater. That has to count for something, right?) So, when the reboot of the series with Daniel Craig as Bond was announced, I had no strong opinion on the subject. However, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, although I'm not sure how much of that second film I understood. So, I was actually looking forward to Skyfall. And now that I've seen it, I'm really not that into Bond films anymore.

As Skyfall opens, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is in Istanbul. With the help of Eve (Naomie Harris), Bond is in hot pursuit of a thief who has taken a hard-drive which contains the identities of spies working around the world. When the chase leads to the top of a moving train, Eve has a chance to shoot the perpetrator, but this leads to Bond falling from a trestle, seemingly to his death. While M (Judi Dench) deals with writing Bond's obituary and with the fact that she gave Eve the order to shoot, Bond recuperates on a tropical island. He's drawn back to civilization when a bomb blast rips through M's office at MI6. Compelled to return to action, Bond begins to follow leads which reveal that the bombing has connections to M's past. Just as it seems that the culprit is in custody, Bond realizes that he's dealing with a foe who will stop at nothing to get his revenge, and this makes Bond face his past as well.

When the "new" James Bond films premiered in 2006 with Daniel Craig playing the iconic role in Casino Royale, they promised a Bond for the new millennium. Gone were the spy gadgets from the older movies, and along with it, the camp which had appeared in some of the films. In its place was a leaner, meaner Bond who was better suited for our real world. In Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, this stripped-down Bond was paired with complicated (some would say overly-complicated plots). Skyfall brings a pretty straight-forward story with it, but it forgets to bring several other things which have made the Bond films good.

If the goal with Skyfall was to create a new breed of Bond movie, then "Bravo!", the filmmakers have succeeded. But, I wish that they would have told me this before going in, so that I wouldn't have gotten my hopes up. James Bond usually travels the world and visits exotic locations on his missions. Here, we get the aforementioned Istanbul and parts of China, but most of the movie takes place in London and Scotland. Bond doesn't seduce any women or vice-versa. Sure, there are female characters here, but we don't get the quintessential "Bond girl". The movie makes a point to say that there are no spy gadgets, but there are no spy anythings in this film. 007 movies aren't necessarily mysteries, but part of Bond's mission is typically to follow clues and leads to find someone or something. Here, the bad guy is found almost instantly. And as for the bad guy, Javier Bardem chews the scenery as Silva. The second he comes on-screen we get the feeling that he's going to make an audacious speech and sure enough, there her goes, becoming yet another cliched villain. Speaking of cliched, when Silva dons his disguise, my wife said, "How many times has that been done in a movie?"

It certainly seemed odd to see dramatic director Sam Mendes helming a Bond movie, and I don't think that he was up to the task. To his credit, he sets up some truly beautiful shots, most notably a fight done in silhouette as giant graphics of jellyfish pass by in the background. The opening chase and fight sequence are handled fairly well, giving us home for the rest of the film. But, the packing soon becomes very lax and we long for something exciting or interesting to happen. The last reel of the film seems to go on forever and I can't help but think that somewhere, hired goons are still shooting at that house.

Given that Skyfall made tons of money worldwide, I'm apparently in the minority as to my disappointment with the film. But, I expect certain things from a Bond movie and this one simply didn't deliver. Bond movies can be sedate and serious, offering quiet moments before the action breaks out, but they should never be boring and this one committed that sin. Perhaps audiences are walking away thinking about the ending, which sets up the future of the franchise. This was a nice way of turning a corner, but it in no way made up for the lackluster approach of the rest of the movie. I can only hope that when Bond returns (as the credits promise he will), he'll bring the action with him.

Skyfall never explains why Bond falls on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The crispness of the image delivers a nice amount of depth during the daytime scenes and the nighttime shots deliver true blacks. The colors look great and the image is never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. As one would hope, the track excels during the action scenes, as we are treated to deep bass response and surround sound effects which provide individualized, detailed sounds. The famous score sounds great and the stereo effects are show good separation.

The Skyfall Blu-ray Disc contains an assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Sam Mendes. This is followed by a COMMENTARY from Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner. "Shooting Bond" (59 minutes) is a 14-part featurette which examines various aspects of the film's production, such as the opening sequence, the title sequence, location shooting, the characters and cast, the score, and Bond's future. We get a king's ransom in on-set and behind-the-scenes footage here, as well as comments from the cast and filmmakers. There is a lot of attention to detail here and the piece isn't afraid to spell out the challenges of making a film like this. "Skyfall Premiere" (4 minutes) takes us to the red carpet for the film's premiere at the Royal Albert Hall. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.