February 24, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Skyfall

We are know six years removed from the introduction of the new Bond and onto his third outing. It is true when they say third times the charm as this movie is bigger, better, bolder, and perhaps a touch more familiar than they have been in years. This 23rd film in the official series feels very much like one of the classics, yet has a certain infusion of genuine emotion and character that is not seen all that often at this level. It is a fusion of the current run of grittier superhero tales (specifically Nolan's Batman run) and post-i revisionist spy tale. The result is something familiar, easy enough to digest, but still offers a complexity worth spending some time with.



Skyfall is a spectacularly thrilling movie. This one has the girls, the globe trotting, the chases, the fights, and the shootouts that we have come to expect. There is nothing I can really add to that, it is a cinematic full meal.

I like how Skyfall looks at the current place of the spy in a world that has gone high tech, where much more stock is placed on information gathering in central locations using modern technological advances than is placed on what a single person can do traveling around to gather intel. This is all shown through the expanded role that M (Judi Dench) has here, especially as she is the subject of a public hearing regarding events at the start of the film, where she essentially has to defend MI6 and its role in the changing world.


The other aspect that I like so much is how personal the film gets. There is a lot of interesting stuff that comes up about Bond's past, his childhood, and his relationship with M. This material brings some nice emotional heft to the proceedings, it also gives Judi Dench something to do, making use of her considerable talents. On top of that, Daniel Craig has the chops to make Bond more than just a super spy. There is a lot going on behind their eyes and that helps elevate this beyond your typical spy/action yarn.

Daniel Craig has really stepped into the character and has become Bond. I love his demeanor, his ability to come with a nice quip, not to mention his finely honed acting ability, he is more than just a cutout spy. Judi Dench? We all know what she can do and she has some room to show it here. Then there is Javier Bardem, what can be said? The guy was born to play psychopaths. Between Anton Chigurrh of No Country for Old Men and Silva in Skyfall, you have a pair of spectacular crazies. His Silva is brilliant, scary, and ever so theatrical.

Director Sam Mendes and writers Neil Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan have delivered a Bond that is at once classic and modern. It has the elements that make it feel like classic Connery-era while also feeling at home in today's cinematic landscape.

Skyfall certainly has elements that mirror other recent films, but that is sort of the beauty of it. I am not sure I can explain it, but there is something about the way the film is crafted from start to finish that feeds off the familiar to build something else. It may not really say anything about society or the human condition, but within its own universe it has plenty to say on what is wedged and who isn't, what is important and what isn't, while also just being a hell of a lot of fun.


Audio/Video. The film is presented in a ratio of 2.4:1. It is a pretty spectacular presentation. There is a high level of detail throughout without regard to subject, be it a closeup of Daniel Craig's face, the streets of Shanghai, the gloomy skies over London, or the greens of Scotland, it all looks gorgeous. It keeps up with the action and does not leave you behind in the mud. Much credit to Roger Deakins for making this look so good.

Audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and it is more than up to the task of matching the excellent visual quality. It is loud and rambunctious when required, quiet and subdued when it needs to be, nothing to complain about here.

Extras.
  • Commentary. The track features director Sam Mendes and is a true scene specific commentary with plenty of information to absorb.
  • Commentary. this second commentary track features Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson and Dennis Gossner. This is also a good tack, a bit more lad back but still has good stories to tell.
  • Shooting Bond. This in depth collection of featurettes is a really good behind the scenes look with interviews with most of the main players in front of and behind the camera.
  • Skyfall Premiere. Scene and interview bits from the London premiere.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Soundtrack Promo.

Bottomline. This is an exceptional film, one to have fun with and enjoy. There is nothing quite like a good Bond film and this certainly stands up to the best of them. It is shot and acted well and manages to keep the character fresh and relevant.

Highly Recommended.


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