Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 12:16 am Comments Off on Skythump

What strange and startling developments have occurred in the life of Ragey over the past four months?

Not much, really. Well, for starters, my feet have somehow been inflicted with every injury known to man – scrapes, bruises, blisters, cuts, everything short of frostbite, from the heel to the sides to the toes. And even the sides of my toes. And given how my personal solution to every health problem in existence is “walk it off”, it’s pretty aggravating! It doesn’t help that every pair of boots I have seems to be the cause of these inconveniences. Who can you trust when you can’t trust your own shoes?

I went to see the new James Bond flick recently, Skyfall. Twice, even! Was it just that good? Well, it just happened to be a decent movie to view with two lots of family members. Thanks to having not one but two opportunities to discuss it with folks, here’s a fat stack of words about it! Spoilers ahoy.

I am not a James Bond aficionado. I’ve seen bits and pieces out of almost all of them (because ITV1 can’t go five days without some Bond in their timeslots) but I could barely tell you what happened in each movie. I could tell you I’ve seen the bit where Bond runs across the alligators like a dozen times and I can’t get enough of it. And I could loosely recap that one fight scene where James Bond shoots a guy with an air bullet that makes him inflate like a balloon. Basically, I’m the guy who’ll do nothing but remind you of the goofiest parts of the franchise. Casino Royale is dark, gritty and full of intense action, you say? Is that so. Hey, remember when Bond used a helicopter to drop a guy in a wheelchair down a chimney? That was classic.
In a nutshell, my experience with 007 is really limited to snippets of ITV, a video game and none of the books. So if you’re looking for an excuse to chuck me and my opinion straight out the window, there you have it.


I’m not sure how much of the plot I can give away without spoiling it. There’s cyber terrorism, I guess??? And James Bond gets shot, falls off a bridge, and then FALLS OFF A WATERFALL, and the only setback he suffers is a crippling alcohol problem. A crippling alcohol problem that’s forgotten the moment he starts globetrotting. Gritty and realistic, you say?!

It’s not a bad plot, and there’s a reasonable amount of intrigue. It hammers the theme of old vs. new constantly, with MI6 facing allegations of being antiquated into this new, technological world, and Bond using new and old tricks to fight his foes. M gets a lot of focus, being the subject of the villain’s hatred as well as own up to some of her errors, but also convince folks that MI6 is still an important asset to British security. Also, there’s giant man-eating komodo dragons for some reason. I don’t know where they came from, but I want more of them.

If I were to gripe, the plot is very stop and go. There’s a lot of scenes of characters just sitting around and discussing WHAT IS THIS BAD PERSON UP TO, and at the end of the day, there’s not a whole lot of story or even back-story to wade through. It just feels a bit padded at times. It did move quicker on my second watch, but there’s a lot of waiting between action scenes. It runs for two hours and twenty minutes, but they could have trimmed another half hour out of it if they wanted.


I haven’t kept up with Bond in a long time – before this, the newest movie I saw all the way through was Goldeneye (and that was yonks ago!), though I did catch most of Casino Royale while visiting my brother back in April. When I think of a 007 movie, I think outrageous, escapist, wish-fulfilment spy antics with car chases, over-the-top action and a guy in a suit who has funny, sexy and mysterious written all over them. But mostly the car chases.

I didn’t catch all of Casino Royale so I’m hardly in a position to critique it with any hint of credibility (but when has that ever stopped me?), though I can hardly remember it. Not much happened, right? It was a bit darker and grittier and Daniel Craig fit into that niche pretty well, I guess. I hate to say Daniel Craig doesn’t do much for me, as I think the real complaint is that the new Bond angle does little for me.

It’s often said the new Bond is more inspired by the Jason Bourne series, and it does have that vibe. They share that vein of cold-nosed seriousness you see in most action flicks nowadays (also, is it just me, or does the climax of Skyfall really evoke the cottage fight in the first Bourne film?), but they are kind of distinct. Skyfall attempts a couple of spots of humour, and its action scenes are a bit more exotic.
My big beef is that the elements that gave Bond its identity – the fancy gadgets, the flash cars, the exotic locales, the memorable villains, the breezy attitude to murder and violence – aren’t really present. It’s all stone-faced serious.

It’s funny how a franchise about murdering people with deformities and banging women on a colossal scale is generally seen as a “family” series in Britain. People have said that the Daniel Craig era of Bond is the franchise ‘growing up’, taking cues from modern cinema to what people are after. Would I be colossally boring if I said it’d be more interesting if it harkened back to older action films?
Something that’s a touch more light-hearted, a bit more humourous, and not so gosh darned serious about itself. And maybe with more interesting plots than bloody cyber-terrorism. Heck, even just giving him a giant komodo dragon to stroke on his lap would have been a nice compromise. Bring back people exposing money to radiation, that stuff was gold.
… not that this is a terrible persuasive argument. “New Bond has no identity. Let’s go back to Campy Bond!” That’s great critiquin’, Ragey. You’re gonna win that Stupid Critic of the Year award fer sure.


Daniel Craig plays Bond well for what he is – a guy for action. Like, literal action. If you need a guy to have a scrap on top of a train or something, Craig’s your man. Though his Bond doesn’t really carry an air of wit, cleverness or charisma on him, if you ask me. He’s just a grim-faced dude who’s mad stoic. If I had a choice of protagonist I’d probably ask for a refund.
That said, I respect that this Bond isn’t perfect, and doesn’t finish his fights without a few scrapes himself. The flawless, invincible Bond got quite tiresome. But there’s not much else about him to root for.

The supporting cast is pretty good. I quite liked Eve, Bond’s partner in the prologue. I couldn’t help but find her story of “in-the-field operative reduced to office duty” more intriguing than Bond’s “secret agent fouls up a bit, then returns to secret agent-ing anyway” plot. She had better charisma than Bond; and if the movie is content being a modern gritty action movie, then having somebody other than yet another grizzled white dude in the starring role would have been a pleasant change of pace.

On that note, there is a Bond girl, but she doesn’t hang around. There’s no drawn-out romance or lovemaking scenes. To be frank, I’m glad those were ditched. It’s a Bond staple, sure, but it’s such a formality, you know? You’ve got over two hours of screen time to work with here, and I’d like it to be filled with explosions and cars. There are plenty of other outlets for spy romance or ugly dresses.

There’s a new Q – a young chap in glasses and dorky attire who looks like he’s pandering straight to the Tumblr audience. Given how the kooky old Q wouldn’t fit in with the new setting, this fellow fits in pretty well. He’s dorkishly adorable and gets some okay banter with Bond, but didn’t exactly enthral me.

The villain is okay, but really nothing remarkable. He’s a cyber terrorist! Like we haven’t seen enough of those. Yeah, computers are pretty powerful these days! It’s also tiresome as all hell. Can’t movies just forget we live in the future for a second? Cheers, thanks, I appreciate it.
He does get some good drama going on, sporting an intense hatred but strangely Oedipal feelings towards M for all she did to him. It gets pretty dang Freudian any time he’s on-screen. He’s fair enough for the plot, and gives the movie its mandatory homoerotic come-on to Bond (because we can’t pander enough to Tumblr these days), but he’s not exactly memorable.
It’s probably ableist to include it nowadays, but it was more interesting when Bond villains were weirdoes, like guys with pincer claws or nasty teeth. I think the next villain should be called Whipnipples. I mean, think about it, it covers the physical deformity trope, and it demands shirtless scenes between him and Bond. Show me the money, MGM.

The real star of the show is M. Judi Dench is always a treat to watch, and her part of the plot is more interesting than anything Bond has to do (besides the flipping out and killing people part). She’s the one with the real weight on her shoulders, having to own up to her mistakes, prevent MI6 from being disbanded and whatnot. She’s all business, but does look out for Bond. I’d dare say the character you really come to see Skyfall for is M.


I enjoyed it. It remained enjoyable the second time around.
It’s most certainly not “the best Bond ever” as people are boasting. The pacing’s a bit iffy and there were a couple of wasted opportunities, I felt. But let’s face it, it’s an action flick. If you’re an individual with very pedantic opinions on how film adaptations of long-running franchises should be produced (hello!), you know from the start you’re going to be hard to please. But if you’re looking for a decent thrill with no real surprises to the genre, you can’t go too wrong with it.

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