Monday, November 26, 2012

A Spoilerific SKYFALL Discussion

Happy Cyber Monday everyone! If you're still feeling the effects of your carb overload from this past week, and need a place to forget about Black Friday or arguing politics while passing the dressing, then take yourself out to see SKYFALL. What follows is a SUPER SPOILERIFIC discussion about all things SKYFALL and CASINO ROYALE because let's face it, we all want to forgot the money we wasted on QUANTUM OF SOLACE. 

If you've seen the films, read on. If not, go treat yourself and then come back!

Jonesy: So my history with James Bond is I've only seen the Daniel Craig ones in their entirety. And I guess I can say I've seen GOLDENEYE because I've beaten the N64 game many times when I was younger, and it's basically the same plot as the film. I've seen a lot of the famous scenes from all the older Bond films, but the Daniel Craig ones are the only ones I know well.

Javi: My big introduction to James Bond was the Pierce Brosnan age, which probably wasn't the best. It actually turned me off the character and turned me to someone like Jason Bourne because at least Bourne wasn't some cheesy asshole, whereas the Pierce Brosnan films were too unbelievable. For example having Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist? I'm not saying beautiful women can't be smart, but given her previous roles (WILD THINGS), I didn't buy it. So my experience was short lived. I know a lot of the iconic moments, phrases, and villains. From what I hear about the older ones, they are pretty terrible. It's sort of like Peanuts where unless your parents brought you up on it, there's no way a kid today will be into Peanuts nowadays. It feels like it's fueled purely by nostalgia. I've been all about the new Daniel Craig ones, not because they're "dark and gritty", but because they're just good.

Jonesy: Yes, thankfully they rebooted the franchise and made everything less cheesy and a little more "realistic" starting with CASINO ROYALE. I agree. I like the more recent ones too. I have no interest in seeing some of the older ones because they will all be predictable and cheesy with all of the really famous lines and spy cliches that Austin Powers made fun of.

Javi: Going along my appraisal of the franchise, SKYFALL might be the best movie I have seen out of this whole character. It's deep in a way that no other James Bond film has been where it has themes that are explored in a very visually and symbolic manner. It's gorgeously shot. It kept me tense for a few parts. I didn't think it was too long at all. I thought everything needed to be there in order for the movie to work.

Jonesy: I don't think it is a bad film, but I just like CASINO ROYALE so much better. For example, I think it took way too long for Javier Bardem to be introduced.

Javi: The biggest reason I would disagree is that at that point in the movie, he has done so much destruction and you have seen what he is capable of doing that you think this strangely flamboyant dude prancing around is just insane. Well, when do you think he could've come in?

Jonesy: The whole section with the sex slave lady, Sévérine, could have been taken out. She was just a ploy for them to have another bond girl in the film, and for Bond to have sex in the shower with her. She brought him to Javier Bardem, and that's all she did. She added absolutely nothing to the plot or to anyone's character.

Javi: You said something interesting in that she was "worthless." She was worthless to Javier Bardem. I was all about his character, Silva, and I love how he just up and shoots her and in the head. He's crazy, ruthless, and now that I think about it, I wonder how he could have gotten to Silva?

Jonesy: She was worthless period. I thought everything was great about his character and his motivations. I wanted way more from him. Cut out the girl, and we could have had an extra 20 minutes with Silva. I didn't just want him for only half the film.

Javi: This might be the best villain to ever hit on a protagonist. One of the things that I liked a lot more in this movie over CASINO ROYALE were the action sequences. The action sequences held more weight to them. There was a better sense of drama since Bond was always at a disadvantage. The rooftop motorcycle scene was nuts. Then there's the gorgeous Shanghai sequence. Now I'll totally sound like a fan boy, but Roger Deakins, what a bad ass. Plus, I love the themes of the reconciliation of the "old" and the "new" in this movie. As weird as it sounds, whenever Bond started to shave with a straight razor, I was all about that. So we have a movie that is talking about dealing with change in a morally grey zone kind in a world where there are "no secrets" there is only YouTube, the Internet, and hacking. I liked that there was a lot of references to the old ways Bond use to do things and the simplicity behind it. It's almost like a battle of philosophies where Silva and Q represented a new complicated world of terrorism and technology. All you have to do is type words in a computer and mess stuff up. Whereas James Bond is a hands-on type of guy. The movie is always asking which philosophy is better. This is symbolized by the gun that Bond gets from Q. It's new and old being chill together.

Jonesy: Except he goes into the oldest weapon in the book to kill the villain in the end.

Javi: Right, I did see that people interpreted that the "old" way of life is killing the "new" one. The way I thought about it was that while the knife killed Silva, Bond did not get there without the help of all of this technology like the radio, or even have Q's trail created by technology. He also managed to escape the crazy Komodo dragon pit without his fingerprint gun.

Jonesy: Which he totally left there! I thought that device would have a bigger impact. First about the action, I agree the hand-to-hand combat in Shanghai was cool, but for me, the opening sequence/parkour scene in CASINO ROYALE was just as bad ass. And you can't compare the themes as one being better than the other because they deal with two different things. In CASINO ROYALE, we start off in black and white and we see him getting his 00 license. It's that evolution of being a spy. Then meeting a woman who is a stronger character than any of the women in this current film which makes him question his path in life and whether he can be in a relationship and also be a spy, or will he have to choose one or the other. I do love the themes of the movie being explored in SKYFALL like getting old, and the old versus new. Although, the whole "getting old" aspect was not nearly as consistent as it could have been. So he failed his physical when he comes back to MI6. But soon after, he engages in a hand-to-hand combat battle (Shanghai sequence) that's as fast and intense as when he was younger.

Javi: I'll counteract that. So he can't shoot straight, and because he can't shoot as well, he misses the Sévérine's head and because of that Silva kills her. Then when he's hanging up on the elevator, he has trouble holding on. Then he actually ends up letting go of the bad guy, while trying to hold onto him when the bad guy is hanging out the window, while trying to interrogating him.

Jonesy: I don't believe this at all. I don't think that he would be able do all of the stuff that we saw if he was so hurt, especially when we're thinking that he's fighting a guy 20 years younger than him.

Javi: Why are we assuming 20 years younger?

Jonesy: Or a guy least at the top of his game.

Javi: Why are we assuming that this guy is at the top of his game?

Jonesy: Why are we assuming that he's not?

Javi: That's a whole lot of assumption on a minor character's abilities.

Jonesy: OK, how about the shooting thing? He's inconsistent with his aim until the very last battle?

Javi: What do you mean?

Jonesy: He's a bad shot because of his injury, and he's always missing his targets up until the final battle when he has his dad's rifle.

Javi: Yeah so?

Jonesy: That's just very convenient.

Javi: Well no. With a gun you have to be precise whereas a shotgun, they have a wider range they might not kill you but there's a bigger range. I mean you've played video games before, you know how shotguns work as opposed to other types of guns.

Jonesy: It's not the same as playing video games. Plus, when he practicing while shooting cans, he was pretty dead on with his shot, but it was still ridiculous how he could shoot the guns so much better all of the sudden.

Javi: I'm not lying when I say that there's a bigger blast radius for shot guns and rifles, so he can probably hit the targets a little easier.

Jonesy: I just don't think that the way that he's not fit for duty is completely gone by the end. He kills a guy while almost drowning in freezing cold water, and he still has the strength to survive and defeat Silva?

Javi: I really feel the movie went out of its way to show you how messed up he was.

Jonesy: Here's the deal, I like both movies, but I like CASINO ROYALE more because it was better paced. I would watch that movie more than I would SKYFALL. SKYFALL felt too long and had pacing issues until Silva showed up.

Javi: I get what you're saying regarding the pacing. I think that what SKYFALL offers in exchange of the issues that the movie might have are so worth it. The climax to SKYFALL is a gorgeously shot fire filled action scene. Like to me, the climax of CASINO ROYALE is a card game.

Jonesy: But then there's who deal of Vesper being a double agent, and the fight when then a freaking building collapses! It's like they both have 3rd act climaxes that bleed into a fourth act. And yes the climax is a card game, but there's so much weight behind what's at stake with the card game that the filmmakers made poker interesting and tense. The SKYFALL final scene was cool, but I really liked the shoot out in Parliament. I liked how close and intense it was. I'm not sure if this is the normal for the older Bond movies to have a climatic battle and then move onto a fourth act. And I enjoyed that you didn't need to know about CASINO or QUANTUM to understand the film.

Javi: You have to give me the fact that the villain was more memorable too. What? La Chiffre? That's goofy. The guys big thing is that he bleeds from his eye? Silva's face collapse, and his name is Javier. What's not to like?

Jonesy: I never said I didn't like the villain...

Javi: Moving on, I do agree with you about the Bond girl where her role in the movie is pretty useless. She needed to be there less.

Jonesy: Or not at all. I just don't get how they go from Eva Green's character who was interesting, smart, and dynamic to Moneypenny, who just toys around with Bond, and this Sévérine, who's worthless. It just doesn't compare. They should have done away with the Sévérine, and then have the focus shift more to M and Moneypenny. By the way, M was great in this movie.

Javi: I like the fact that there's this whole relationship between Bond and Silva and M. Silva's relationship is supposed to be more twisted. He calls her "Mom", and his whole motivation of hating her was the fact that he was tortured and captured because of an order that she gave. Then you think about all of the times that Bond has been tortured in the last couple of movies.

Jonesy: I wish that the relationship of Bond/M had been more developed. They developed it pretty quickly here given how short of a time they had in this film. She was his surrogate mother, and the only consistent mother figure he has had in his life. If there would have been a three movie arc of their relationship, it would have given even more weight to the finale.

Javi: That feels a little bit like complaining about the continuity of DOCTOR WHO.

Jonesy: Well it's just weird how the first two movies are in continuity, and this one wasn't. I think this would have been an interesting way of giving the series a bigger arc of themes to explore. They could have upped the tragedy of the movie. It was very interesting to see M treat Silva like Bond until she needs to do what she needs to do and gives up Silva. And she did something similar to Bond by having MoneyPenny take the shot.

Javi: See what I think is interesting is how in this weird "sibling rivalry" situation, M is the constant her actions, and her dedication to the mission doesn't change, but what changes are the 00 agents. They're the wild cards, and maybe Silva was just a bad seed. From one agent you get a psycho, and the other one a fiercely loyal agent. For me, what amazes me about this movie, in a very CLOUD ATLAS. It tries to bring themes to a character that is not known for that as much as he's known for catchphrases. I think that this story is talking about the struggle of how quickly technology is moving and us trying to reconcile our old ways. I think that in a lot of ways Bond movies are a reflection of its time, but this is the first time in my limited scope of the franchise where a Bond movie has not only tried to reflect the times but also comment on it.

Jonesy: I don't disagree with you. I just still think CASINO ROYALE was better, but I know we both highly recommend this film.

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