Movie Discussion: SKYFALL

The AFI Fest started last week (wrapping up today) and for the third year, I’ve been attending as a press member. Last night was the annual “Secret Screening,” revealed at the last minute as Skyfall. Guess who fell out of her chair when she read that announcement?

Mr. PCN and I hustled down to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, and following are our reactions to the 23rd James Bond movie, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, and Naomie Harris. The spoiler-free plotline is that things get personal for M.

Mr. PCN: I love the title sequence. Reminds me no one else does it like that.

PCN: It was gorgeous and hypnotic. I can’t hum Adele’s tune, though.

Mr. PCN: As with most Bond movies, the opening action was awesome.

PCN: It was intense. Love how the audience cheered when he first appeared.

Mr. PCN: Craig is wonderful, but he looks a little more beat-up than usual. It makes sense in context of the plot, but was still startling.

PCN: Like you said, he had to look like that, considering all that happens to him in just the first fifteen minutes. Makes him more human. But then he puts on those Tom Ford suits and all is right with the world again. I was obsessed with those suits! They could cut you, they were so sharp. They fit him so well, in silhouette he looked naked.

Mr. PCN: *rolls eyes*

PCN: These are astute observations. Costumes are an important part of cinema.

Mr. PCN: Uh-huh. Moving on to Bardem. It’s no surprise he shines as the villain. His performance is flawless, and the flirtation scene between him and Bond is hilarious.

PCN: Bardem is mesmerizing. He’s so unpredictable; I could never tell when he was going to smile at someone or kill them. He doesn’t overdo the villainy, but instead exudes charm and humor, which makes him even scarier, a la Hannibal Lecter. And his introduction via that one long take in which he does the monologue while walking slowly toward the camera is well done. What’s with him and ugly character hairdos, though?

Mr. PCN: Ha! What I want to know is: Why is Bérénice Marlohe getting so much press when her Sévérine is so underwhelming?

PCN: I agree. Naomie Harris, though, is sexy because she’s smart and competent.

Mr. PCN: She’s more of a driving force. Q is bit of a conundrum. He’s not as fun as John Cleese or Desmond Llewelyn. And Q’s gotta have fun with Bond and his gadgets.

PCN: And he’s not that smart. Makes mistakes, and is kind of slow to realize things that seem obvious to viewers. Not Ben Whishaw’s fault, though, more the way the role was written. What did you think of the action sequences?

Mr. PCN: The opening train-and-crane is the best.

PCN: Yeah. Supposedly, most of the stunts were real, not CGI’d. Craig had to fight on a moving train, tethered to a safety line, and told not to look down.

Mr. PCN: Komodo dragon was good, too. Short and snappy.

PCN: The Shanghai fight was nicely shot, against the neon lights and shadows.

Mr. PCN: But it was kind of confusing.

PCN: Yes! I wish some of the fights were filmed in two-shots so we could see the choreography more. As is, there are a lot of fast cuts and closeups. I couldn’t see the moves or tell what was going on sometimes.

Mr. PCN: I enjoyed the nods to early Bond films, like the Aston Martin DB5.

PCN: With the original plate from Goldfinger! And when Q gives Bond simple gadgets and says, “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that anymore.”

Mr. PCN: I don’t think this breaks any new ground, but harkens back to vintage Bond.

PCN: I think it’s both old and new. Several important elements were reinvented, but with reverence to what’s gone before.

Verdicts: Mr. PCN—Skyfall floats, but doesn’t rise; PCN–Skyfall‘s a solid soldier

Note: Besides the AFI Fest, the Variety Screening Series has also begun. Check back soon for reviews of Anna Karenina, Hitchcock, Silver Linings Playbook, and Life of Pi.

Photos: Francois Duhamel/Columbia Pictures



  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    November 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Hells. Yes. How did this not pop up in my feed today? All week long I’ve been planning my escape tomorrow. I’m leaving as soon as class lets out and sneaking away to watch this one in the theater. A rare treat, I assure you. I may even sneak in a little champagne. I’ve only been waiting for this film for FOREVER.

    I’ve heard such great things, and it’s nice to see an insider’s perspective, especially on the nods to the franchise. I’ve always liked Bond, but this reboot has been, by far, the most enjoyable for me (with the exception of QoS). Reading the Fleming series has only confirmed how fantastic they are. Casino Royale, the film, was nearly spot on with the novel. I highly recommend them if you haven’t read them.

    Thanks for the sneak peek. Cannot WAIT for tomorrow.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      November 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. And you should DEFINITELY sneak in champagne.

      I have a few of the books. I must make time for them so I can compare.

      Have fun tomorrow!!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Your note that Craig’s suits “fit so well that in silhouette he looked naked” clinches it…I love the back and forth between you and Mr. PCN, very fun. Thanks once again for a great review!

  • Reply
    November 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Love that Bond still dresses well, Ladies, but what about the plot? Oh, wait, what the hell am I saying?! I’m gonna sneak off to this like everyone else in the world!

    Glad to have you back, PCN!

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    November 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    You’re a very clever cookie, PCN ~ great insight into the movie without giving away too much. I love your and Mr PCN’s repartee. Very fitting for a Bond movie. As for the leading men, seems unfairly stacked for them to give Javier Bardem such bad hair {you know I have a soft spot for him} when he’s already holding the villain card. I like the sound of the classic Bond nods ~ I’ll make sure I catch this on the big screen! Thanks, PCN and Mr PCN.

  • Reply
    Heather Madden
    November 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    My first viewing of Skyfall left me a little frustrated at the slow pace in the first half. However the story did catch speed in the second, and by the end i felt it was overall slightly better than Casino Royale. On reflection , however, there was a lot to appreciate from this Bond movie. An ageing James Bond , with his powers in apparently terminal decline, refuses to give up against all the odds, even against a fitter, though older , villain.A lot of the action is without any fancy gadgets . Similarly, M’s unwavering belief in Bond’s ability to do his bit when the time of reckoning comes is commendable. The reference to Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Ulysses was heart touching, and remains my favourite scene from the movie. The movie showcases Bond as a human being first and a secret agent next, and shows a human side of him which many thought never existed. The movie has a lot apart from just action sequences ( which are aplenty , mind you) and that makes me feel in retrospect that this is the best Bond movie I have seen in my lifetime (have only seen them in the last decade).

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