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Review: Skyfall (2012)

Well, it’s all come down to this. I’ve gone through 6 James Bond films in the past 2 days, to prep for Skyfall. Surprisingly, it isn’t Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace that fit best with Skyfall, but rather the classics during the Connery and Moore days. Fair warning: spoilers abound below.

Skyfall starts out with the usual chase scene; what you’re used to in the Craig era. This chase soon leads to the alleged death of Bond, at the hands of a fellow agent. Begin typical Bond intro. Enter Bond with woman, enjoying his “death”. Of course, he does return, only to find M (Judi Dench) on the verge of being forced into retirement and a crazed mad man (Javier Bardem) hacking their system, blowing up MI6 HQ, and leaking the identities of undercover agents. All in a days work for 007, right?

I was extremely nervous going into the theater. After all, I hadn’t heard anything but rave reviews about Skyfall in the entire week leading up to seeing it. It began, and the opening chase scene was on par with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. The title sequence was just as good. Craig was typically good, Dench top notch, per norm. It was all in all a good Craig/007 movie. Then comes Javier Bardem’s Silva. Much like Heath Ledger’s Joker brought The Dark Knight up a whole notch, Silva did the same for Skyfall. He’s ten times more intimidating than the previous Craig-era villains, is only after one thing (revenge), and has the usual Bond villain deformity. The man is scary. What’s scary is that he isn’t after dropping a nuclear bomb, or taking over the world, he only want to see M die.

Another reason Skyfall was particularly mind-blowing for me was all of the throwbacks. We get 3(!) new regulars, some of which haven’t been seen in a decade or more. Q (Ben Whishaw) was my personal favorite. If you remember the old Desmond Llewelyn days, you remember that he and Bond always had an interesting relationship. He was always older than Bond, but never afraid to let him know what he thought of him. Now, with a younger Q, the dynamic changes, but the same relationship is there. Also, what about bringing back the DB5? Ejector seat and all?

Overall, as you can tell by the length of this post, this is now my new favorite Bond film. While it does lag, and the last sequence of events seems a bit out of place, I respect Sam Mendes trying to take the series in a new direction while still honoring the past. An absolute treat to watch.

My Rating: A+

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Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

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I had consistently seen and heard about the Swedish Millenium trilogy based off the best selling novels. After all, a lot of talk hyped up the performance of Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander. Then late last year, the trailer for a new American version came out. And it blew me away (Seriously, one of my all-time favorite trailers). David Fincher. Daniel Craig. Christopher Plummer.  Music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. And it created a star out of a bit player in The Social Network: Rooney Mara. I had never seen the Swedish films, nor read the books, so Fincher’s vision of the story would be my first introduction into the world.

While the weight of the movie rests on Mara’s Salander, the plot focuses on journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig). His claims on a powerful corporation were not research enough, and he is sued with slander. His problems take a back seat when he gets a call to visit the house of a wealthy industrialist (Plummer) to solve the unsolved disappearance of his niece decades prior. To help him out, he enlists the services of hacker/social outcast/ biker, Lisbeth Salander (Mara). Her story takes on a whole other part of the movie filled with rape, revenge, and top notch detective work. Together, they get to the bottom of what turns out to be a messy, sick, and dark tale.

The story is not for the squeamish or most people for that matter. Salander’s journey is deeply disturbing, violent, and gruesome. But it is what makes her. She turns out to be one of the most odd heroines in cinema history. Who else can pull of the bleached eye brows and micro bangs and still seem so cool and distant? Rooney Mara’s performance is definitely one to be admired and I really hope they can pull two more movies from this franchise. What else is there? The music, from the same guys who did The Social Network, is pitch perfect. The setting, is perfectly chilling. Even Daniel Craig is his James Bond-ish self, but is a normal person. I won’t spoil the mystery, but the movie isn’t even about that. Instead I got caught up with the journey Blomkvist and Salander take. They might be one of the oddest couples in recent memory, but it just is perfect. It’s never going to be a rainy day movie or be put on any of my all time favorites list due to how difficult at times it can be to watch, but Fincher did create a near perfect film.

Also: be on the lookout from one of the most unique and one of my favorite title sequences ever.

My Rating: A

Review: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

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Long before Cowboys & Aliens came out, I was excited but skeptical about the whole thing. I mean the pieces are there; Hans Solo and James Bond as cowboys who fight aliens? Count me in! But unfortunately, the line between cheesy and entertaining is thinner than I thought.

Arizona, 1873. A stranger (Daniel Craig) wakes up with no memories, beaten and bloody and a strange new device around his wrist. He goes into town and meets the crew: the doctor (Sam Rockwell), the spoiled brat (Paul Dano), his powerful father (Harrison Ford), and a mysterious woman (Olivia Wilde). They get into their scrapes but unfortunately they have to take a time out to deal with a small alien invasion. As memories soon return to the stranger, the town comes together to fight against a race that is lightyears ahead of them technologically speaking.

You know, sometimes cheese can be good. Like, “so bad it’s good” kind of thing. But Cowboys & Aliens isn’t bad enough to be entertaining, and takes itself too seriously to have any fun. And I think that is why C&A fails: It doesn’t have any fun. The cast should be amazing, Dano, Craig, Rockwell, but the plot holes and pure absurdity seem to suck any enjoyment out of it. So go ahead and watch it. Just don’t expect to be entertained.

My Rating: C-

Summer Movie 2011 Flop Chances

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X-Men: First Class

In Theaters: Now

Chance of Flopping: 10%

The X-Men franchise is pretty solid. When 3 movies, plus one devoted to a single character are made, it’s pretty safe to say they are well like. 10% chance of flopping just for how goofy that helmet looks.

Super 8

In Theaters: June 10

Chance of Flopping: 2%

What does this movie have going for it? J.J. Abrams. Steven Spielberg. Everything else is just normal. Hopefully Super 8 brings us back to the great summer movies of the past like Jaws. I can’t explain how excited I am for this movie.

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