Skyfall (2012)


Less of a Random Killing Machine, More of a Personal Statement

Skyfall (2012)Today’s review is an admission of guilt on my part. I saw this movie in theaters about three months ago and, even though my sister indicated that she was intrigued to find my opinion about this movie, I completely forgot to give it. And, after three months, the drink and drug affected my brain so much that I completely forgot I had a sister. Oh wait, I mean I forgot to review this movie. And it was even more important because old what’s-her-name wanted to hear my opinion. Well, it turns out I had waited long enough to review this movie that it’s already been released on DVD. And so I am finally able to bring you my review of Skyfall, written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan, directed by Sam Mendes, and starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, and Ben Whishaw.

A MI6 agent on his Majesty’s secret service by the name of James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on assignment with another agent named Eve (Naomie Harris). They’re in pursuit of a mercenary that has stolen a hard drive containing the NOC list from the first Mission Impossible movie, containing the identity of all the undercover agents in the world. While trying to get the hard drive back, Eve inadvertently shoots Bond, allowing the mercenary to escape. The death of James Bond sends shockwaves through MI6. Eve is suspended to a desk job and Chairman Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) suggests that it’s time for the head of MI6, M (Judi Dench), to retire. On her way back to her office, M finds that someone has hacked her computer, sending her a taunting message and blowing up her office. James, who has been banging women and drinking a lot, learns of the attacks and returns to duty, regardless of his injury. M approves him for duty even though his test results do not, and Bond sets about finding out who was behind this. Psst! It was Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem).

Now, I’m not really sure what old what’s-her-name thought about this movie, so I don’t know what her opinion was. Not that it would change mine, but I would at least have bullet points to argue with her if I knew. I liked this movie, I like the greater majority of the Bond movies, and I like the Daniel Craig ones most of all. I know a lot of Bond fanatics probably wouldn’t be down with that sentiment, but I like action movies more than I like suave spy movies, and the Daniel Craig ones meet that description much better. But that’s not to say this movie didn’t have its share of problems. The first thing that occurred to me was that the bad guy could post his video of the undercover agents on YouTube. One of my videos is still not allowed to be monetized because I infringed on copyrights in their opinion! And that didn’t get anybody killed! YouTube needs to get their shit together. Also, I know these new Bond movies want to set themselves apart like the Batman Begins of the Bond movies, being darker and more realistic. And, though I appreciate the shout outs to things that Bond fans would appreciate, they had a couple of “fuck you” parts that they shouldn’t leave in. It’s like in the first X-Men movie when Cyclops joked about how dumb they’d look if they were wearing yellow and blue tights. In this one, Q jokes about not having exploding pens because that would be so dumb. You know the Bond fans that are supporting your movies are probably not going to enjoy you saying that the things they liked were stupid, right? The name of the movie was also an annoyance to me. I had no idea what they meant by Skyfall when I saw the title. I didn’t know what it meant when it came up in the psychiatric evaluation. And when I found out it was Bond’s house, I was really let down. Especially when they go all Kevin McCallister with it, setting up traps like it’s Home Alone. I see this too often in movies that are trying to take themselves seriously recently. I heard a lot of complaining about this movie about how it was too M heavy, but I didn’t really see that. I understand the complaints that everyone always thinks what Bond is doing is reckless and crazy, but he also has saved the world about 23 times already and people should just get off his sack. But with the M thing, I assume Dench was ready to get out of these action movies since she’s pushing 80 now, and they wanted an emotionally resonant way to do that. I feel they accomplished that.

I was cool with the action and the look of the movie, but I could’ve used some more action. It made me laugh that they started the movie with Bond being visually obscured and then revealing only his eyes at first, as if we were supposed to not know who he was when you played the music score when he walked into frame. But that didn’t make me laugh as much as when this super spy was in a car chase with these bad guys and they pulled their car up right next to the villain in his car, and Bond’s big idea was to ram his car instead of maybe grabbing the gun that we know he has and shooting the guy with it. He could’ve put it point blank against the guy’s temple they were so close! Instead he chose the equivalent in effectiveness of reaching over and flicking his ear, which he could have done because he was so close to the guy. I also liked that they had a chase through a bazaar in Istanbul because I’m pretty sure I recognized it from one of the Assassin’s Creed games. And no, I don’t think it’s at all pathetic that I can only recognize famous global landmarks because I’ve been there in video games. I know what the Eiffel Tower is because it was in the fourth Alien movie and one of the National Treasures too! …Also I’ve been there. I liked the opening though. It was action-packed and a great way to start a movie. Then they go into those classic Bond-style credit sequences with that cool Adele song playing. How do they still come up with those crazy credit sequences when LSD isn’t as popular anymore?

The cast was all pretty good in this movie. Daniel Craig is a pretty awesome Bond, and I’m told he’s attractive as well. I felt like his one-liners weren’t nearly as good in this one as they have been in the past, but that’s not really his fault as much as it is the writers fault. Another thing they did with his character was only use the fact that he wasn’t as good of a shot anymore when they needed it. Twice in the movie they show him not being able to hit anything with a gun, but you put a shotgun in his hand and take him back to Skyfall and he’s a champion skeet shooter. Javier Bardem made a strange choice for the villain. I don’t think they’ve had a flamboyantly gay villain before. Besides Nick Nack. And sure, he didn’t SAY he was gay, but come on… At first I thought he was kind of laughable as a villain, and then he did that William Tell thing with the sexy chick and the shot glass. That was pretty fucked up. Even more so because she was hot. And then he pulled out his dentures and told his sob story and I was kind of in with his performance. Naomie Harris also did a good job in the movie, and was nice to look at throughout (although I still maintain that she hasn’t topped her hotness in Pirates of the Caribbean yet), but was it really supposed to be a surprise when she said her last name? Could people not have guessed that when they had her in the secretary’s office? I’m not even the biggest Bond fan and I figured that one out.

Skyfall was a good movie with its share of problems, but not enough that it would hinder my enjoyment. Solid story, decent action, and good performances. They had some things that didn’t make sense, and some of the one-liners fell short, but I enjoyed the experience. I saw this in theaters, bought it post haste on BluRay, and will look forward to Daniel Craig’s next outing as Bond. Skyfall gets “Enjoying death” out of “I say ‘Day’ and you might say …’ ‘Wasted.’”

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)


Rape, Torture, Fire, Animals, Religion.  Am I Missing Anything?

I had done everything I could to avoid watching today’s movie.  It’s the first part in what will inevitably be a trilogy of movies based on a Swedish trilogy of movies that was itself based on a trilogy of Swedish novels.  The reason I never saw the original movies is because I generally hate reading movies.  You make me pay attention with quality movie, not because I have to pay attention to read what’s going on.  I never read the books because they were books, and I don’t do that.  And when they released the American version of the film, I still never wanted to watch it.  Firstly, everyone is going to say that the American version is not as good as the Swedish version.  And others may even say that the Swedish version was not as good as the books.  On top of that, all I knew about this movie was that someone gets raped in it a couple of times.  That is literally everything I knew about it, so much so that I actually referred to this as “That Rape movie”, because that was shorter than the actual title, and why would I want to watch a movie about rape when it’s not “socially acceptable” for me to touch myself while watching … except in Japan.  My roommate even asked me if I wanted to watch this with him, but I turned it down.  Finally, I saw it in a RedBox and decided to just do it already.  Someone would request it eventually anyways.  So let’s dive into my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (aka “The Rape movie”), based on a novel by Stieg Larsson, written for the screen by Steven Zaillian, directed by David Fincher, and starring Rooney Mara, Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff, Yorick van Wageningen, Geraldine James, Donald Sumpter, Robin Wright, and Goran Visnijc.

Journalist and co-owner of a Swedish magazine called “Millennium”, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), has gotten himself on the wrong side of a libel case brought against him by a corrupt businessman named Hans-Erik Wennerstrom.  Even though his credibility has been damaged, he has been requested for an investigation by an entrepreneur named Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), but only after an extensive background check by computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara).  Vanger asks Mikael to investigate the disappearance of his grandniece, Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago.  Even though he suspects that she’s dead, he wants to know what happened.  As Mikael is dealing with that situation, Lisbeth has a bit of a situation of her own.  She is under state appointed legal guardianship because of some troubles in her past and her new lawyer, Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), is being a total dick … and putting his in her mouth.  He makes her work for her money right up until she films him raping her and regains control of her life by blackmailing him.  Mikael investigates Harriet’s disappearance by himself at first, but eventually requires the services of another investigator, and so his path crosses with Lisbeth’s.

I was totally disappointed.  This movie was not about rape at all!  Why is that the only thing I had heard about this movie?  It’s actually a mystery and suspense movie with two quasi-rapes and a lot of rape talk.  I guess I’ll have to start referring to this movie by it’s actual title now.  All that aside, this was a pretty good movie.  Is the Swedish one better?  I don’t know, but that’s the rumor.  But I’m not talking about that, am I?  The story of this movie was pretty good, but I felt like it got off to a slow start.  Technically speaking, you could have easily dropped out all of the Lisbeth stuff before she meets Mikael.  He’s really the main character of this movie, and all of her stuff before that point didn’t really serve the story at all, which means this movie could’ve been completely rape free and been just as potent.  Looking around on Wikipedia, it turns out that Larsson included that stuff because he witnessed a gang rape when he was 15 and it’s haunted him ever since.  I’m sure women would be into it because Lisbeth has a pretty hardcore retaliation for her rape and that’s very empowering for women.  Not having a vagina myself, I just realized that it was unnecessary to the story.  If Lisbeth just walked in and got hired by Mikael, nothing would have changed.  The mystery that they solve together was pretty great, and I really had no clue what the outcome would be until the very moment they revealed it in the movie.  I also had a bit of trouble following some of the reveals in the end because I lost track of the names of all the characters.  I probably could’ve been paying better attention, but there were also so many suspects that, when they were coming up with the potential killer’s name, I was trying to figure out which one of the people they were talking about.  But it’s still a very good mystery, and I appreciated it for that.  After the mystery is taken care of and the story is wrapped up, I felt like the story kept going to no great effect, but it wasn’t that much time wasted.  The look of the movie bothered me a bit, but mainly just because everything was just a shade above black and white for almost the first half of the movie, and that didn’t make it very visually interesting to me.  Except for the opening titles.  They were pretty cool and definitely visually interesting.  There was also a car chase and crash that was pretty spectacular in the movie.  I’m not that big of a fan of Trent Reznor.  Never was a Nine Inch Nails fan and most of his “music” in this movie just sounded like there was constantly a plane flying overhead, but it did set the mood, so I guess it did what it was aiming at.

I can’t think of any real criticisms about the performances in this movie, but I do have a couple of fake criticisms.  This was one of the first times I had seen Daniel Craig play someone that wasn’t James Bond, and it was a much more grounded and real performance.  I felt bad for him for the bulk of the movie because almost anyone that interacted with him opened with a verbal kick to the nuts by bringing up his legal troubles.  I did laugh when Lisbeth was stitching up a cut on his head because the cut seemed so minor.  As a guy, there’s not a whole lot I can say about Rooney Mara’s character that’s non-sexual.  Finding her attractive in this movie was difficult for me.  I usually like the goth look, but her hair and almost invisible eyebrows were a little off-putting to me.  Her body was not, though, and she was not shy about letting that thing breathe.  I did think the sex between her and Daniel Craig just came out of nowhere and could’ve used a little explanation, but I’m not complaining because I enjoy her boobs.  Most of the time she just played it emotionally dead, but performed her part of the rape disturbingly realistically, and that made her retaliation that much more satisfying.

I liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo much more than I thought I would, but it was not without it’s problems.  The story doesn’t pick up for me me until Lisbeth and Mikael start working together because I felt like Lisbeth’s part of the movie before that was unnecessary.  It wasn’t that visually interesting to me, but the story kept me paying attention for the second half of the movie, and I never saw the end coming.  I can recommend this movie for a watch but, from what I’ve heard, that’s just because I haven’t seen the Swedish ones.  I still liked this movie though.  And so, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gets “You do something for me, I do something for you” out of “May I kill him?”

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Cowboys & Aliens (2011)


Today I made a solo run to the theaters to catch the film Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig (He’s James Bond), Harrison Ford (He’s Han Solo) and Olivia Wilde (She’s Hot). But before I talk about that, there’s something else that desperately needs my attention.

I don’t remember trailers very often when I go see a movie, but one of them before this movie jammed itself into my brain like an ice pick. It’s a trailer of a soon to be released movie with Liam Neison that seems to try to condense the epic story of a famous game into a movie. Of course I’m referring to Battleship. Who didn’t play that game when they were young and think to themselves “Y’know, the story of this board game is SO GOOD, why hasn’t anyone turned it into a movie?” I may be being slightly facetious, so allow me to reveal my true feelings: What the hell is going on here? Battleship has no story – a trait I foresee it sharing with the movie of the same name – so how can you make a movie out of this? At least it has recognition going for it. Most people in the world know the cliché “You sunk my Battleship” but people seem to forget that the whole quote is “You sunk my Battleship with your gigantic star destroyer”. At least, in this case, I’m sure the movie will sink itself, saving me the trouble of having to sit through it.

And now for our feature presentation: Cowboys & Aliens. This is the story of an amnesiac with a finely chiseled body waking up, kicking some asses, getting arrested, kicking more ass, finding aliens, riding to them, and then kicking a whole lot more ass. These aliens have come to Earth to take our gold because – more than touching people with shining fingers or destroying Tom Cruise’s car – aliens desire “ballah status”. It’s not really made clear, but I believe these aliens needed the gold to melt down and turn into medallions for their rappers to wear. But the aliens aren’t really the focus of the movie, they’re just around. The story more focuses on our hero who’s name escapes me but I vaguely remember it being something like Lonergun. Having just looked it up, it’s Lonergan, but it’s close enough. Anyway, Lonergan (Craig) has amnesia and basically spends the rest of the movie kicking ass and trying to remember stuff. He gets on the wrong side of Dollarhide (Ford, though they choose to spell it Dolarhyde) and hijinks ensue. He also meets a hot chick named Elle (Wilde, of course). Aliens steal their buddies and they all go after them.

I think the biggest problem with this movie is that it left no impression on me whatsoever. I just finished watching it less than a half hour ago and I’m having trouble remembering anything. There was not much suspense, not much action, and when Wilde was neked, you only saw her back from the waist up. And don’t get me wrong, I love big dumb action movies. I fully understand the difference between a movie that means something and a good way to kill 2 hours. I know that I know the difference because I do everything possible to avoid those pretentious meaningful movies. But I only found myself half-way interested in this movie.

I’ve no real rants nor raves to offer you about this movie. It’s a decent enough way to kill 2 hours and you probably won’t be wholly disappointed with the experience. I didn’t go in expecting much, and I was right.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it “meh”.