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Why is Skyfall so highly regarded?


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#1 EyesOnly

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 05:36 PM

It's a good film, but it's not a Bond film I enjoy watching over and over. What do others think?



#2 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 05:58 PM

I actually enjoy it over and over.



#3 Mr_Wint

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 08:26 PM

It seems like SF is very popular among general movie fans.
But what do they know? I am actually (slowly) beginning to think that SPECTRE is the better Bond film. Just like TB is superior to GF, even though that is hard to explain sometimes.

#4 Odd Jobbies

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 08:49 PM

Deakins, Roger Deakins.



#5 tdalton

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 01:01 AM

It's popular largely because its predecessor wasn't.  It became so popular to trash QoS that the press was almost destined to love the next one, especially if it addressed the supposed sins that kept QoS from being a masterpiece in their eyes.

 

That and the fact that it had some true "artists" working on the film, the kind that the academy could wrap their arms around and embrace because they'd already done so several times over in the past.  



#6 Hockey Mask

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 04:36 AM

It's popular largely because its predecessor wasn't.  It became so popular to trash QoS that the press was almost destined to love the next one, especially if it addressed the supposed sins that kept QoS from being a masterpiece in their eyes.
 
That and the fact that it had some true "artists" working on the film, the kind that the academy could wrap their arms around and embrace because they'd already done so several times over in the past.

I don't know about all that.

#7 Dustin

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 06:38 AM

It's a story about loyalty among spies.

One of them happens to be James Bond.

#8 David_M

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 02:22 PM

I've found it's pretty much an exercise in futility trying to guess why anyone likes anything.  Or as the saying goes, "there's no accounting for taste."

 

The cinematography is brilliant, the theme song was the first to make an impression on pop culture in a long time, Bardem is definitely one of the better villains in the series and the storyline takes us to unexpected and interesting places emotionally and often breaks from the traditional formula.  On the other hand, the plot makes very little sense, some of the action strains credulity beyond the breaking point and the last reel feels like "Home Alone." So who the hell knows?  In some ways it's "different" but ultimately almost every entry in the series is a mix of fun performances, loopy plotlines, dazzling eye candy and nutty physics, so why this one is regarded as such a "standout" is frankly beyond my ken.

 

Among fans, I think you'll find as many detractors as supporters for SF, like every Bond film.  Among the general public, I think you'll find most of them have forgotten most of it and moved on to the next thing.  Again, just like every Bond film.  Looking to the films themselves for answers to why some are more successful and some less so will only get you so far.  A lot of it comes down to timing:  does the film tap into the current mood of the culture, does it satisfy the craving of the moment, does it "give the people what they want?"  If "Goldfinger" were released in 1954, or 1974, would it still have been a good movie?  Yes.  Would it still have been a cultural phenomenon?  Who knows?  Same goes with TSWLM in '77 or Skyfall in 2012.

 

SF isn't totally to my taste, but I'm happy it was such a big success, since those are what keep the Bond train barreling along.  



#9 New Digs

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Posted 17 December 2016 - 03:48 PM

It became so popular to trash QoS that the press was almost destined to love the next one, especially if it addressed the supposed sins that kept QoS from being a masterpiece in their eyes.

 

That and the fact that it had some true "artists" working on the film, the kind that the academy could wrap their arms around and embrace because they'd already done so several times over in the past.  

 

Yes, it was built up before it even opened by the fact Mendes was directing. 

 

 

 

SF was a little different and showed what could be done with a Bond film. It was exciting in those terms. It was also the 50th anniversary. IIRC the competition was relatively low at the time of release, which always helps. A film's success is often due to timing.  

 

There was also a four year gap since QoS so there was time to fully embrace Bond again.

 

SF is good, interesting, well made and different. I prefer the previous two films, but think it is better than Spectre. 



#10 Professor Pi

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Posted 17 December 2016 - 04:01 PM

I think it's the casual public that gives it this reputation more than anything else.  It finally felt like Bond, not Bourne.  It gave us Q, Moneypenny, and a male M again.  It showed the inner workings of MI6.  It had the bloody Aston Martin, throwing continuity to the wind to the delight of casual fans and consternation of others.  It was the 50th anniversary and had been 4 years since the last Bond movie.  Had SPECTRE been released under those conditions, its reputation would have been better too.

 

For me, Skyfall owes too much to The World Is Not Enough to heap such praise on it.  It has brilliant moments--the Tennyson speech, for example, a near perfect casino scene with Severyn, and the abandoned island set piece.  But the second half defies physics and logic, from Sylva's escape through the train crash and on into the Home Alone script.  Also, I would have liked to seen more of how Bond survived the fall in the PTS.  That bit is glossed over completely.

 

But it tinkered with the formula just enough to seem different, and gave enough tropes to remind everyone it's still Bond.



#11 sharpshooter

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Posted 17 December 2016 - 11:16 PM

The public like Bond movies. But the iconic and loved Bond movies don't come around all the time. The stars have to align. The stars aligned with Skyfall. The 50th anniversary helped create a sense of significance. Adele's song was popular, and served as good promotion. And lastly, Dench's death elevated the film's importance I think. I'm sure it's a scene people will remember for quite some time. That scene alone pretty much elevated SF into the league of OHMSS. Bardem was also a factor. Especially his first scene. It was bizarre and funny.

#12 DavidJones

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 01:17 AM

All very thoughtful, considered answers. In my view - as irrelevant as any - it is the worst film as I prize plot logic and it has none. It is a fever dream and doesn't make a lick of sense. But it's success was great for the franchise so I'm good with it.

#13 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 09:45 AM

If I have to name the most important factor for SKYFALL to stand out and succeed for me - it is Javier Bardem´s performance.  

 

His Silva was the best, most threatening and interesting villain since Hugo Drax, IMHO.



#14 Odd Jobbies

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 11:29 AM

If I have to name the most important factor for SKYFALL to stand out and succeed for me - it is Javier Bardem´s performance.  

 

His Silva was the best, most threatening and interesting villain since Hugo Drax, IMHO.

 

Silva's entrance scene and chat with Bond is probably my favourite villain entrance ever. Script, direction, photography, but most of all Bardem, are firing on all cylinders.

 

Wit and the tension are in perfect balance thanks to Bardem. A joy to watch every single time.

 

... ...This just occurred to me, but i find the scene a kind of spiritual sibling of Frank N. Furter's  entrance in The Rocky Horror Show. From both Frank and Silva entering via an elevator to their ambigious sexuality and attempted seduction of the 'hero'.

 

Now i know that's an odd comparison, but it makes more sense than some of SF's plot holes ;)



#15 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 01:16 PM

I wouldn´t be surprised if Mendes had had that in mind, actually.  Good find!

 

And I absolutely agree: the wit and tension Bardem provides is what so many Bond villains are sorely lacking.  Even LeChiffre did not really manage to evoke that.  

 

Maybe that´s what irks me about Waltz as Blofeld as well.  Even if he had been given wittier lines he still comes across as a weakly bureaucrat.  That works in movies like THE LEGEND OF TARZAN where he absolutely shines.  But for Bond I want a villain that is physically imposing.  Drax and Stromberg were not fit, of course, but they entered the room exuding power, towering over the proceedings.  Silva did as well and also had this crazy danger about him, a cobra ready to strike at any moment.

 

More of that, please.



#16 Odd Jobbies

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 02:07 PM

Indeed! Like a great Bond, a great Bond villain has that aura of unpredictability - danger. What that boils down to is the audience's perception of where the script is leading proceedings and the presence of such a character who may go in a different direction at any moment unsettling that sense of narrative expectation. That makes the storytelling exciting, from the smallest exchange of dialogue to the sweeping choices that decide their fate. Silva had this by the bucket load.

 

Drax and Stromberg are also two of my favourites. They don't necessarily exude the unpredictable brand of menace, but rather the aristocratic brand that sees human life as dispensable canon fodder with which to achieve their aims. Both brands are welcome in the right hands. Drax harked back to the days of 'Let them eat cake' and Stromberg obviously to the Nazis in the detachment and contempt they both display for human life. It's broad strokes, but so perfectly cast that broad strokes are exactly what's needed.

 

For me Waltz was a combination of the two. I loved the detached puppet-mastery of the boardroom scene - the aloofness of Drax and Stromberg turned up to 11. I also loved the maniacal glee he exuded in the dentist chair scene and his joy in gloating over Bond's puppet-part in Blofeld's grand lifelong game of remote torture. But, once the dust had settled, i'd agree that this incarnation of Blofeld lacked something compared to Bardem's Silva. Somehow Blofeld needs to be a little more 'red-blooded' (even if he does aspire to 'blue-blood').

 

The best Blofeld hands down was Telly Savalas imo. Sure he phoned in his performance - he never really acted in any movie, he was simply Telly Savalas. But Telly Savalas' larger than life screen-presence turns out to be a damned good fit for Blofeld. The aristocratic affectation concealing a blood thirsty megalomaniac that'll do anything - kill everyone if it'll achieve his ambitions.

 

Waltz doesn't quite fill those terrifying shoes, but there's few who do. In their day perhaps Walken and Oldman, or the late James Gandolfini circa Sopranos). I'm sure Hardy would make a great fist of it, as he does with everything thrown at him. But i look forward to seeing Waltz have another crack at it if there's a new writing-directing team.



#17 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 02:51 PM

Now that would have been a great choice: James Gandolfini as Blofeld.

 

So sad that isn´t possible anymore.



#18 DaveBond21

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 04:14 AM

The public like Bond movies. But the iconic and loved Bond movies don't come around all the time. The stars have to align. The stars aligned with Skyfall. The 50th anniversary helped create a sense of significance. Adele's song was popular, and served as good promotion. And lastly, Dench's death elevated the film's importance I think. I'm sure it's a scene people will remember for quite some time. That scene alone pretty much elevated SF into the league of OHMSS. Bardem was also a factor. Especially his first scene. It was bizarre and funny.

 

Indeed - timing was key.

 

It also came in the year of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and the London Olympics (whose opening ceremony featured both the Queen and Bond).

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________



#19 hoagy

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 10:06 PM

Some great ideas herein however:  James Gandolfini as Blofeld ?  Don't want to speak ill of the dead, and enjoyed Gandolfini in his performances, and steroptyping is mean, but never saw evidence of the range for him to portray Blofeld with credibility.  And, yes, I saw his last few.  In one (The Drop) it was right up his alley and he nailed it supremely well.  In Enough Said (romance), for those who might tout it as evidence of range -- I would disagree.  Still pretty muc "his kind of guy."  He even did comedic films -- Get Shorty, The Mexican -- and they would not stand as evidence of range sufficient to portray a Blofeld, either.  Not a criticism.  His body, face, voice, etc. were quite determinative.  Is the suggestion made in the sense that he was Savalas-ish ?  Well, believe it or not, Telly had a bit more range...or, perhaps more correctly, his appearance, voice, persona and portrayals were of a type different enough from Gandolfini's so as to have the "action Blofeld" of OHMSS within reach of Savalas.

 

As for those who found Drax and Stromberg to be interesting Bond villains, I get the feeling they were the villains in films that affected you largely because they were in the Bonds playing when you came of age, Bond-wise.  Come on.  Drax appeared ready to fall asleep at any moment -- can't blame him -- and Stromberg, like the actor portraying him, was a person past his prime and trying to accomplish something before he passed.  Neither projected menace.  TSWLM succeeded in spite of its villain, in spite of Bond reading a computer manual in a crucial moment (it would have been so easy to lay the groundwork with some training scenes earlier in the film !), etc.  As for MR, it was the film where the series SERIOUSLY lost its way...and had to be reeled back in, and was, in FYEO.  It was one groan after another.  A large part of the world's movie-going audience loved Moore's clownish Bond, but fans like me who started out at the beginning (ok, by that I mean DN, not the TV presentation of CR), while understanding changes in tone are worthwhile to synchronize with the actor, with the times, and for the sake of variety, found them just awfully disappointing and, all too often, just awful.

 

The idea that Skyfall was the right film at the right time is right on target.  So was GF, though it was a bit "plain" and not exotic in comparison with the films just before and after.

 

With regard to the observations about suspension-of-disbelief-moments in the plot of Skyfall, boy, did that ever happen in the latter portions of the succeeding film !  Despite those moments -- also correctable by ever-so-slight script inclusions (eg. since Bond is in the motorboat on the Thames earlier than the climax, let the audience see that the boat is equipped with high-powered rifles or grenade-launchers -- the sort of thing that might be more useful to SHOOT DOWN A MOVING HELICOPTER than a HANDGUN).  In SPECTRE, that happened to such a degree that one wonders whether the audience was treated to an ending reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil...Bond snapped under torture, and his mind tells him (and us) the rest of the story as a coping mechanism.

 

Still, I greatly enjoyed both SF and SP.  Bond films much more often than not are productions in which "it was enjoyable, but could have done without that dumb [INSERT HERE: Tarzan yell, Beach Boys song snippet, Louisiana sheriff, Louisiana sheriff who amazingly shows up in Thailand at the same time as 007, jealous girlfriend bit with Pam Bouvier, horrible CGI and the whole para-surfing the frozen tsunami, etc.]."  Right when you think the producers have gotten wise about avoiding such nonsense, they do it again, and the result becomes something that ON BALANCE, either is enjoyable or ruined.



#20 Odd Jobbies

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 02:15 PM

Savalas' range was virtually non-existant, yet he turned in the finest Blofeld, imo. Like Savalas, Blofeld was well within Gandolfini's range, however narrow you find it. Circa Sopranos Gandolfini also fitted the large (not fat, but large) physical attributes described by Fleming perfectly - the climactic sword fight in YOLT comes to mind.

 

As for Drax and Stromberg my opinion isn't based upon my age at the time of those movies release, just an appreciation of archetypal villainy in cinema and in particular Bond movies.



#21 plankattack

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 04:57 PM

Savalas' range was virtually non-existant, yet he turned in the finest Blofeld, imo.


Without wandering to far away from topic (agreed with all that SF has timing as one of the foundations of it's success), the above statement is as true as you can get. Savalas one-note (some critics I think referred to it as Savalas doing some rank-and-file gangster impression) performance is the core of his success. His Blofeld is clearly a villain with villainous intent - something which cannot be said of Charles Gray's amusing yet ultimately non-threatening posture, Waltz's confusingly written "whats-my-point exactly?" backstory in SP, and Pleasance, what can I say about Pleasance other than his Blofeld seems as bored with it all as SC's performance.

Great villains, such as Bardem's, have multiple sides to their personas. The latter's sense of humour, his touch of panache, give his evil intent a "realistic" foundation and elevate his character/performance to Auric Goldfinger-levels of notoriety. They're as well rounded characters as you're going to get in a Bond film. But at the least, our villain has to be, well, villainous, which is exactly what Savalas had going for his Blofeld.

Not an accident then, that all three films, are well-regarded?

#22 Yellow Pinky

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 08:52 PM

 

Savalas' range was virtually non-existant, yet he turned in the finest Blofeld, imo.


Without wandering to far away from topic (agreed with all that SF has timing as one of the foundations of it's success), the above statement is as true as you can get. Savalas one-note (some critics I think referred to it as Savalas doing some rank-and-file gangster impression) performance is the core of his success. His Blofeld is clearly a villain with villainous intent - something which cannot be said of Charles Gray's amusing yet ultimately non-threatening posture, Waltz's confusingly written "whats-my-point exactly?" backstory in SP, and Pleasance, what can I say about Pleasance other than his Blofeld seems as bored with it all as SC's performance.

I think it's also that Savalas' Blofeld is so consistent.  He may be one-note, but he infuses that with integrity and conviction.  I believe he's genuinely evil.  He's not given any sympathetic backstory to explain why he's what he is.  He simply IS an evil man orchestrating an evil plan because it's who and what he is.  And Savalas plays him as a man who is completely and whole-heartedly at ease with that.



#23 hoagy

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 10:22 PM

Points taken and appreciated.  What I meant about Gandolfini is that, while he played certain villains well, I could not picture him portraying a villain who is supposed to be creative, extremely intelligent, etc.  Just more of a thug.  It seems some of the contributors here considered Savalas' Blofeld to be just that, but I think ol' Telly -- in addition to lovin' ya, baby -- had more style and panache.  (Recall his Kojak was very well-dressed and was a good detective, and was believable in that, whereas Gandolfini's characters tended to be thick upstairs, and attempted to succeed in their endeavors by sheer force and bull-headedness...his gangsters were not wise like Brando's Vito, or smart like Michael)  Some of the difference was in the fact that while Savalas' characters were physicually solid, they were not big and sloppily overweight like Gandolfini's characters.  This may seem quite insensitive, but I am describing characters and body types and portrayals.

 

When you consider it, many -- if not the majority -- of the Bond films have had let-downs in the portrayal of the master villain.  Some of them were helped out by good henchmen (or a pond of piranha fish, which was more of a concern than a Red Grant-wannabe wearing all black), or such a good scheme that their lack of personal threat was overcome or less noticed.



#24 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 09:28 AM

The great thing about Silva - coming back to SKYFALL - was that he did not need a henchman.  He was menacing all by himself.  

 

And no, Patrice was no henchman, just one foot soldier.



#25 Odd Jobbies

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 10:24 AM

Points taken and appreciated.  What I meant about Gandolfini is that, while he played certain villains well, I could not picture him portraying a villain who is supposed to be creative, extremely intelligent, etc.

 

The driving force behind the Sopranos narrative was the very fact that Tony was a lot smarter than his opponents gave him credit for, be they gangster or police. Gandofini had the nuance and subtlety to portray such a complex, conflicted character without faltering once over 6 seasons.

 

Sure he was type cast, but Sopranos alone validates all the praise heaped upon his performances across the board.

 

I doubt very much he'd have been a lumbering one-dimensional Blofeld. Like Gert Frobe he'd have brought plenty of intellectual menace to the party too. Just what Fleming had in mind.






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