Monday, 5 November 2012

Skyfall - Review

To keep this review completely and utterly honest I must start with a confession – until last week, I had never seen a Bond film. You, like so many other people that I tell this deep, dark secret to are probably thinking, how can this be? As Proud Britain’s, James Bond is as essential to our culture as tea, Harry Potter, and various naked members of the Royal Family. Yet until now there hasn’t been a single thing to tempt me to watch a single minute of a Bond film – let alone a whole two hours or more. That was, until Skyfall was announced.

Another confession – American Beauty is one of my favourite films. (And really, if it’s not one of yours, you need to take a long hard look at yourself.) Therefore I was immediately drawn into the idea of Skyfall as soon as I heard it s name and Sam Mendes in the same sentence. And it didn’t end there. Javier Bardem as a villain? Naomie Harris as a Bond Girl? Ben Whishaw playing a character I’ve never heard of but presume is important in the Bond franchise? This might be my kinda film after all.

Well, it was and it wasn’t. There were moments (pretty much every single scene Javier Bardem was in) where I was rooted in my seat, eyes fixed on the screen, convinced that this was the greatest thing ever. And then there were other moments (Most of the Hong Kong/Machau scenes and the last twenty minutes or so) where I drifted off into a dream world, pondering what to have for dinner. What seems odd to me is that while to me the film pretty much fulfilled my expectations of Bond being suave and flirting a lot, some casual misogyny, and lots of booze, weapons and cars, to ardent Bond fans it was a completely new experience. Allegedly a lot of Bond fans complained that the story was too “character driven” and that they wanted more action, whereas I was bored to death by the long and over-the-top shooting scenes and wanted to focus on Javier Bardem’s ridiculously incredible hair. I’m not saying I was expecting floating plastic bags and rose petals, but a little more conversation would’ve been nice. While Skyfall’s script wasn’t exactly Oscar-worthy, the actors are of course more than competent and made them flow with ease, therefore I’m convinced that it wouldn’t have been too torturous to stick a few more of them in.

It may seem like the sole point of this review is to dissect every single bad thing about Skyfall and enrage every single Bond fan, so I feel I should move on to some positives. While I had some expectations about the film, one thing I did like was the way that some characters were exact opposites of what I had expected. My expectations of a Bond villain were a swivel chair, a white cat, and a tiny gun. In reality we got Javier Bardem in a naff wig, talking about rats, dressing up as a policeman, and laughing gleefully. As aforementioned I don’t really have a clue who Q is, but from characters reactions to him in the film (“You still have spots!”) I can only assume Ben Whishaw’s interpretation of him was very different.

So while my first ever James Bond experience wasn’t exactly the dramatic event I assumed it would be, (it’s about on a par with “losing your Nando’s virginity”) it wasn’t a negative experience either. Instead it rests in the “meh” section of my mental film-ranking list, alongside pretty much every other action film I’ve ever watched in my life. The big question, I suppose, is – will I ever see another Bond film? For now, that seems unlikely, unless they manage to somehow get Ryan Gosling onboard or Javier’s wig makes a stunning comeback. Then again, I never thought I’d see one in the first place, so you never know.

Grace Barber-Plentie

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