Review Roundup - You know the name...

SKYFALL (2012)

To no ones surprise, James Bond has returned. I enjoyed nearly everything they did with Casino Royale which still holds up as a really edge of your seat action adventure, with just enough hints of characterisation to keep me involved, great set pieces and a nice score. What keeps me watching however is the pacing of events and staging of the action on top of that. The badly thought out sequel took things in totally the wrong direction with shaky cam gibberish and zero personality, so I was set for a return to form or at least a vast improvement - after all, the reactionary nature of this series is well documented. So yes Skyfall does a lot right and moves away from that in spades, but while there's a lot of this I like... it felt as though the structure was all over the place.

Here they seem to want all the serious drama, all the heavy moral issues, and then at the same time mix that up with the older school stuff like a Goldfinger DB5 out of nowhere... they're going to throw in these pop references now after ignoring them for so long? Is this still a reboot before or are we pretending it's a continuation now? Were the last couple of Craig outings a starting point for the other 20 plus adventures and this is now a successor? If they wanted to get back to the roots why is the gun barrel at the end, like it's an embarrassing relic? This conflicted approach spoils things a bit, and I wish they'd just pick a side. There are great dramatic moments mixed with strange almost inappropriate quips, it's a little odd. That being said it still manages to celebrate 50 years with more finesse that what they did at 40 though, so let's not think about that one... the idea of CGI wave surfing alone makes me want to gag.

I mentioned the music in Casino Royale, and so one thing I have to mention here - I missed having a David Arnold soundtrack during the film's duration. After serving so well all this time, what's up with the music in this? I appreciate the director Sam Mendes wanted it to be scored by his old time collaborator, but it feels like those older ones where you realise John Barry wasn't available and a disco Bond theme starts playing. Some of it doesn't even fit what is happening on screen, and to make things worse they borrow cues from Casino Royale and throw them in at odd places. Like the tone, the mix of orchestra and electronica doesn't gel. I have to admit the Adele theme itself works better than I originally thought at least after hearing it initially, and the film sound mix gives it a boost that tinny radio broadcasts lack. The intro is pretty slick alongside it, but I guess stylish CG credits sequences are a given at this point. It gets points for the striking imagery though, more death and less kitsch is nice to see.

I guess the big positive is that I really liked Javier Bardem - it's hardly a revelation but good characters are something that are a total must here, and he was intense when required along with being suitably charismatic and campy at regular intervals. Besides, it's nice to see a memorable villain, and he does get the best scenes. What was shown of the Quantum rogue's gallery was so totally forgettable, who cared about that guy's water stealing plan? Nobody. In fact the same can be said of the whole thing, so let's gloss over that episode and move on. Here we have a thriller that manages to sit at that mid level of the series for me - despite being so well made it doesn't sit properly as a consistent thriller and never reaches the heights of the better entries to franchise that I'd say are my favourites. Despite the applauded cinematography looking very nice and the refreshing plot being at it's heart a simple vendetta for once, it's not a personal high point. Maybe it's all that unrealistic techno babble or the lack of impact events seem to have taken during the closing scenes but I just didn't get all the hype despite having a good time.