Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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Friday Five: Five Hopes for ‘Skyfall’

I originally had another post written for this week’s Friday Five, but I decided to table it for the moment to comment on another, topical news item. Yesterday, Eon Productions, MGM, and Sony held a press conference officially announcing Skyfall, the 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise. While I have a general anticipation for the film, I am not quite excited for it as I am completely intrigued by it. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), the film boasts a powerful cast and a dynamite production team. Not to say that previous Bond films haven’t had talented people involved. It just seems that this one is really trying to step it up (some rumors say Mendes is trying to make Skyfall an Oscar contender, although I am extremely doubtful of that).

Daniel Craig‘s previous Bond films have been a mixed bag. While Casino Royale was a fantastic introduction to his Bond, Quantum of Solace was incredibly lackluster. Considering the previous films and as a Bond fan, I have some hopes for this upcoming film.

Craig’s films have been very humorless. There have been attempts for Bond to crack a joke, but they have really fallen flat. I don’t know if this is due to the writing, direction, or Craig’s performance, but this has been one of Bond’s traits that has been seriously lacking in the current era. I don’t mean to suggest that Craig become the new Roger Moore or anything. I am a fan of his more-serious take on the character (and one of the seemingly few who was very supportive of him when he was first announced as Bond in 2005). But I feel there is room for Bond throw out some inappropriate jokes and cracks at another’s expense during his adventure.

Reintroduce Characters
As Quantum of Solace proved, have two films to cover Bond’s origin is a film too many. I think now the time is right to reintroduce familiar characters back into the fold. Specifically, I am referring to Ms. Moneypenny and Q. They have always been staples of the Bond films and, frankly, I miss those characters. Having covered “how James becomes Bond” over two movies allows for the perfect opportunity for Bond to meet these classic characters again.

No Nonsensical Action
If there was one thing that Quantum of Solace did right and wrong at the same time, it was lots of action. The action scenes were fairly sparse in Casino Royale, so I guess producers felt Craig’s second outing needed all action, all the time. It was too much. Making the problem worse was that a lot of it seemed thrown in there just for the sake of having it in there. Hopefully, Skyfall‘s action sequences will occur naturally from the film’s narrative as opposed to being thrown in.

Ditch the Self-Importance
The thing that bugged me in Quantum of Solace was that the film seemed to take itself too seriously and had a bit of a pretentious vibe to it. Perhaps it was some of director Marc Forster‘s personal dramatic style overtaking the film, but it didn’t work for a Bond movie. Bond films never take themselves that seriously (even the more-serious ones). Skyfall will help itself greatly if it doesn’t make this mistake.

Worthwhile Villain
The biggest problem of the Craig films have been the main villains. They have been incredibly weak and non-threatening characters. The threat Le Chiffre posed was nonexistent other than being a strong poker player. Then he died two-thirds the way through the film. Greene was completely laughable and was made worse when it was (finally) revealed that his evil scheme was to withhold water from a third-world country. Bond films are almost defined by who the villain is. It is okay to have a weaker villain from time to time, but having a more than one in a row is off-putting. I am not saying the bad guys have to be threatening world domination all the time, but they have to be a bit of a bad-ass and show off some menace. However, I do think Skyfall will be fine in this regard considering Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes are set as the film’s antagonists.

Well, those are my five hopes for Skyfall. We’ve been kinda light on content here at The Culture Cast over the past week. We’ll make that up you to you in the coming days! Probably.


6 responses to “Friday Five: Five Hopes for ‘Skyfall’

  1. CultureCast-Z November 5, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Quantam of Solace is really terrible, isn’t it? It’s been 3 years and I still have no fucking clue what Forster was trying to do or say. That hotel scene in the desert at the end was just so stupid too. It was like they subbed in Michael Bay or something for the last third of the movie. You also have to consider that the female lead was atrocious, the film played off the “ignorant American” stereotype way too much with the whole “The CIA is complicit in denying the Bolivians or whatever their water!” crap (seriously people need to get over the George Bush era), and Jeffrey Wright’s character (who I like in Casino Royale) is incredibly shoe-horned in. I fucking hate this movie in hindsight (with the exception of the opera scene, which I still find well done).

    • CultureCast-Z November 5, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Oh, and there was also no reason whatsoever for Giancarlo Giannini to be in this movie other than to do. As soon as he showed up, you knew he had a big ol’ “DEAD” sign hanging around his neck. And he seemed to accept his death with little to no argument, which completely pissed me off. And then Bond leaves him in a dumpster. Come on!

      • CultureCast-N November 5, 2011 at 5:21 pm

        I remember the first time we talked about this movie. You were supportive of it at first, but after we talked, you totally changed your attitude! lol!

        I like elements of QoS. The aforementioned opera scene, Craig’s and Dench’s performances, and the general atmosphere isn’t all that bad. It just didn’t come together in the end. The story of Bond going after Greene had very little to do with the whole “Bond wants revenge!” tag the producers were pushing for the movie. In fact, the whole Vesper storyline was pretty much ignored except at the very beginning and the very end.

        I didn’t mind the sequence at the end. Most Bond films have huge action set pieces during the climax. The problem with it is two fold: the editing is very jumbled and our reason to care about foiling the villain is nearly non-existent. I also didn’t mind the female lead. While her acting isn’t the greatest (which I mostly chalk up to clearly not knowing English), it is very rare to have a good actress as a Bond girl. I know that sounds pigish, but look at past Bond girls and you’ll see I’m right. I usually turn a blind eye to that sort of thing in a Bond film.

        Finally, I totally agree with you on the waste of Giancarlo Giannini. However, I am happy they brought him back for one reason: to clear his name. In the Bond novels, Mathis is one of Bond’s good allies. In CR, they left him as if he was a villain. That left the purist in me unsettled. That would be like turning Felix, Q, or Moneypenny into a villain. You would go, “Wait…what?”

        I did notice that the film plays better on re-viewings if you accept it as it is.

  2. CultureCast-Z November 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I haven’t watched it since it came out on video in 2009. Maybe I’ll go back and check it out again.

  3. CultureCast-K November 7, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I just watched an old sci-fi film called ‘Forbidden Planet’ which starred Leslie Nielson in his younger years. Remember him? The guy from Naked Gun and Airplane! ? Well I couldn’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance to Daniel Craig currently. Check it out, you’ll undoubtedly catch my drift.

  4. Pingback: Friday Five – Winter Time! « The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

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