Skyfall Blu-ray Review

Gone are the days of the cheesy Brosnan/Dalton/Moore movies of yesteryear.  Director Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY, ROAD TO PERDITION) has written the blueprint for future James Bond movies, meaning that they have to be smart, stylish and tell a real story.  After grossing over a billion dollars worldwide, SKYFALL is by far and away the most successful James Bond film ever made.  All arguments aside, it can’t be denied that the film has proven audiences want a more sophisticated, quality James Bond movie than what they’ve seen in the past.  I’m not fully convinced that SKYFALL is the best Bond movie ever (I give that title to CASINO ROYALE), but it definitely makes a good case.

Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig

The James Bond in SKYFALL is much different from the Bond we knew in Daniel Craig’s previous outings.  He’s older, slower and he’s not invincible.  Furthermore, he doesn’t always get his man and this is established in the brilliant opening sequence when he’s actually shot in the shoulder by a fellow agent.   That injury plagues Bond throughout the film as we see him struggle holding his gun straight and just barely holding on to a climbing elevator.  Mendes’ decision to recreate James Bond as a mortal man and not a superhero is perhaps his biggest achievement and the aspect of the film that sets it apart from many of the other James Bond movies we’ve seen over the years.

Naomie Harris in SKYFALL

Once Bond returns from that shoulder injury, he immediately gets assigned to track down former 00 agent Silva (Javier Bardem), who everyone presumes is trying to kill M (Judi Dench).  We’ve seen Bond go up against former 00 agents before, but Silva is a different character.  He’s not out to destroy the world or hijack a nuclear missile, he wants revenge on M because he felt she betrayed him when he was an agent.  This adds a level of humanity to the villain that we don’t normally see in Bond movies.  His situation also parallels Bond’s, who is still struggling with the fact that M may or not have betrayed him earlier in the film.

Daniel Craig in SKYFALL

Of course, the typical James Bond action sequences ensue around the globe, complete with plenty of shootouts, fist fights and even a hungry dragon.  Aside from the opening sequence, I didn’t find any of the action stunts to be anything earth shattering.  They were what I would expect from a James Bond film, adequately moving the story along while keeping the audience entertained.  I felt the same way about the Bond girls in SKYFALL, even though I did like what they did with Naomi Russell’s Eve later on in the film.

Javier Bardem in SKYFALL

The biggest complaint I have about the 23rd Bond movie, SKYFALL, is that it feels too much like a James Bond movie.  I know that seems like a silly thing to point out, but when I first learned that one of my favorite directors, Sam Mendes, was going to be directing Daniel Craig in a Bond movie, I was excited to see the world’s greatest super agent in an anti-Bond film.  We got that to some degree, but there was still a part of me that wanted more and less all at the same time.  Of course, my strange disappointment doesn’t take away from the fact that SKFYALL is one heck of a ride and it firmly establishes itself as one of the greats Bond films of all time.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video:  Breathtaking.  I’m always looking for non-animated, reference-quality Blu-rays to show off my system and SKYFALL is now at the top of the list.  The video quality is amazingly clear.

Audio: The audio matches the video on every level, making this one of the nicest Blu-ray releases we’ve seen in a while.

Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes on the set of Skyfall

Commentary with Sam Mendes: Sam Mendes tends to give very technical, almost distant commentaries and this isn’t much different.  It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re looking for personal stories are some insight into hijinks on the set, you won’t find them here.  He does, however, explain almost every scene and give details behind certain dialogue and shots.

Commentary with Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson and Dennis Gassner: Broccoli and Wilson own and control the Bond franchise, but I get the feeling they don’t participate in anything, other than giving their stamp of approval and cashing the checks.  Therefore, this commentary is a little bland and features a lot of them talking about how great the movie is.  Gassner has some good notes here and there, but overall I prefer Mendes’ commentary over this one.

Shooting Bond (59:22): A documentary crew followed the entire process of making SKYFALL from start to finish and the result is a very detailed, fascinating documentary that can also be viewed as 14 separate featurettes.

SKYFALL Premiere (4:29): SKYFALL premiered at the Royal Albert Hall and this quick featurette focuses on the premiere, along with interviews from the cast and crew.

Theatrical Trailer, Previews and a Soundtrack Promo

OVERALL 4
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