Friday, November 23, 2012

Skyfall

Bond. Gold Bond. That's what secret agents say when they go to the pharmacist for jock itch. Which is apropos of nothing but a lame intro to the latest 007 film Skyfall. On the 50th anniversary of the first flick, Dr. No, this 23rd (?) film in the series eschews most of the darkness of the Casino Royale reboot while not fully embracing the goofiness of the gadget-laden quipping Bonds of yore.

Upshot? Well, we liked it. The Flower had never seen a Bond movie had fun, though she liked the callbacks (the original Bond Aston-Martin, complete with machine-gun headlights and ejector seat) more than the simple radio and trigger-locked gun which comprised most of the film's gadgets.

Plot? Well, the same plot as always. Bond flies to a remote and/or exotic location, where he finds a clue that leads him to another remote and/or exotic location. Some hot chicks get slept with and threatened and/or killed. (One of the creepier aspects of Bond, if you ask me.)

Craig is good as Bond. Dench is good as M. Javier Bardem is maybe a little closer at times to Dr. Evil or, what's-his-name, Bernie Kopell when he was the head of K.A.O.S. on "Get Smart" than Dr. No than was entirely appropriate. Naomie Harris (28 Days Later) is cute as always. Bérénice Marlohe is suitably exotic but pretty disposable. Ralph Fiennes is the uptight suit who looks like he's going to interfere with the MI6 (wait, MI5? Or are they up to MI7 now?). But is he?

Gratuitous Albert Finney.

Having said that we enjoyed it, I would add that there are a lot of things about this movie that are dopey, and even unlikable.

There's a mockery of the Aston-Martin, for example, which I take as dissing the kind of now campy feeling of the old movies. But this movie is just as dopey as the old ones. At one point, Bond calls in the cavalry and you kinda think "Bond doesn't usually do that but it makes sense that he would." So, great, a blow for something a little more realistic than a laser pen.

Except that by doing it an hour earlier, it could have happened with a lot less bloodshed.

Likewise, the new Q is all tech-oriented, using computers instead of shoe-phones or whatever the spy gadgets are. But the villain has demonstrated superior hacking skills (a la Napoleon Dynamite) for the whole movie and what does Q do but hook the evil dude's computer up to MI6's secure computer network.

Is that any less dumb than an ejector seat? I don't think so. An ejector seat is an engineering issue. Things like that, or being the head of the spy agency without enough sense to not wave your flashlight when you're being pursued by the bad guys, are at least as goofy.

Then there's the whole first part of the movie where Bond is sulking because M had him shot. What happened to the stiff-upper-lip thing? It wasn't a gratuitous shooting. A whole bunch was at stake. (Though it doesn't pass the technological laugh test if you think about it for five seconds, which you shouldn't.)

That said, it's a fun romp. We all liked it.

Probably the best hidden thing about this movie is that it's directed by Mr. Kate Winslet himself, Sam Mendes. And that means that while he was doing this he wasn't directing another angst-ridden "I hate suburbia" movie.

So, there's that. And that's something we can all be grateful for.

3 comments:

  1. Geek note: In one of the goofier scenes, Q is looking a what's called a "hex dump" which is basically a representation of the contents of a computer's memory using hexadecimal--base 16 numbers.

    So, when counting in hex, you go 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, etc., with 1F being followed by 20, 9F being followed by A0, and FF being followed by 100.

    "100" in hexadecimal is 256 in decimal, and as you may know a single byte in a computer can hold any of 256 values. That's why it's used.

    Now, Bond looks at the hex dump and says "Hey, there's a street name in there: Garborough!"

    Well, that's a problem, now, isn't it? There's no G in hex. Nor is there an R, U or H. There's no O but you could use a 0. (They didn't, but you could.)

    So, at best it'd be _A_B0_0___.

    But at least it's not an ejector seat.

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  2. I saw "Skyfall" last week at the Irvine IMAX with my son (14) and his Opa. I recall my dad taking me to see "Diamonds Are Forever" when it came out. We all liked it--I don't think it was as good as "Casino Royale" (because of Eva Green), but it's much better than "Quantum Of Solace."

    mendes' directing was pretty good--never a dull moment--but that's required for a Bond flick.

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