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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: Pirates of the Caribbean- On Stranger Tides (2011)

See that proverbial dead pirate horse? See that Disney dude beating it? Yup.

Captain Jack Sparrow is not only still alive, but apparently, still doing enough things to warrant a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. In this chapter, Jack has ditched Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner for Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and Blackbeard (Ian McShane). This time, the gang is after the mythical Fountain of Youth.

This fourth installment of the franchise is an obvious exercise in how movie-goers will see things that they know. While completely unnecessary, On Stranger Tides does make a solid Pirate’s movie. After all, it couldn’t get much worse from the drawn out, confusing plot of the third installment, At World’s End. The absence of Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom does, however, hurt. The chemistry between Cruz and Depp is no match between the strange love triangle of Knightley, Bloom, and Depp. On the bright side, there was actually a new character introduced that was not completely one-dimensional. That, of course, was the missionary Phillip. The film doesn’t match the scope of the other three (The creators mentioned that they couldn’t get much bigger), but that actually helps make it feel like a separate entity out of the group, instead of blending all into one memory of boats, pirates, and rum. Supposedly, they hope to start off another trilogy with On Stranger Tides. Let’s hope this is the last time, even though it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

My Rating: B-