Skyfall Review: The Blu-Ray DVD and Movie
XXIII Non Sufficit (23 is Not Enough)
“I shall not waste my days by trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
From James Bond’s Obituary
Skyfall is probably the most successful Bond movie ever and one of the best. This a surprise for a series that has had 25 entries (23 made by Eon). Inflation makes this an imperfect science, but domestically, Thunderball and Goldfinger probably were seen by more people. However, the foreign markets in the 1960s only made up 20-25% of a film’s gross. The Bond movies were originally financed by American Companies, United Artists and later MGM, so America was considered to be their “domestic market” although production was usually initiated in Great Britain. (or, as it’s known today, Britain.) Now the foreign markets make up to 75% of a Bond movie’s income. This is due to a greater demand of all American films in Europe and South America and to the end of the cold war. Russia ($31 million), China ($56 mil), all of Germany ($85) now get to see these movies. Of course, The British really love their Bond movies! ($160 mil)
In reviewing a movie on DVD I have a different point of view than if I was reviewing a newly open movie at the local movie theatre. First, I do assume that most people have seen the movie or have heard a lot about it. For this reason, (and I have a label called “Spoilers”) I feel that I can more openly discuss parts of the movie without spoiling it. I also feel that the DVD features should also be reviewed.
On This Blu-Ray Package: (about $20 from Best Buy and Amazon)
Shooting Bond is a one hour behind the scenes documentary. It is broken down into 15 chapters. It is mostly interesting, a bit repetitive, and often revealing.
Opening Sequence: How they did the motorcycles chasing each other on the roof is shown. It sort of takes a bit of the magic away when you see the wires and how they did some of the stunts.
The Title Sequence: The composer and producer discuss how and why the visuals were done and why Adele was picked to write and sing the title song. It was interesting to see Daniel Craig’s participation here.
007: Everyone wanted to go back to the beginning of Bond and recreate the character. Considering Bond didn’t really ever have a beginning, it was interesting to hear from everyone on how they did it.
Q: No more exploding pens. The producers wanted a very different, modern Q. He has fewer weapons and is more into computers. Very interesting. But they don’t mention how Bond’s DB5 got all that stuff!
DB5: Yeah, there is a short piece on the return of the most famous Bond car, but they don’t answer any real questions on how and why this car fits into this picture.
Women: There are really three Bond women in this movie. Here they mostly talk about how Naomie Harris reinvents her role and how Berenice Marlohe is a traditional Bond girl; with a traditional look
Villains: The producers and Javier Bardem discuss his unique role. As in the Stan Lee Universe, they realize that the best villain is a copy of the hero. How they do that is very interesting.
Action: A behind the scenes look of some of the action shots. My favorite is the collapsing train. The producer is proud to point out that the Bond stunts are real, not computer animated. (I guess he didn’t see the water sequence in “Die Another Day.” )
Locations: From Turkey to Shanghai we get a nice little travelogue. And as the sun sets slowly in the west…
Music: A small segment with the composer, his studio and his orchestra.
End Sequence: A very interesting look on how the sets were built and why they decided to use Skyfall as the final big scene. They wanted to have the characters on equal footing and, at the same time, reveal some things about Bond’s past.
M: Judy Dench is really the third Bond girl. They examine her relationship with Bond, but this is really a great tribute to a fine actress, who will be missed. What they don’t say, of course, is that she might have been getting a bit too old for the role, she had been doing it for 17 years.
The Future: What they want Bond films to look like as time goes by. They will not look like the Connery ones, but they know they must retain some elements.
In a separate section, they show the Skyfall Premiere, in England with all the stars being mobbed by fans. Also, there is a 40 second commercial for the Skyfall CD.
There are two interesting commentaries, one by Director Sam Mendes and a second one with Producers Michael G. Wilson & Barbara Broccoli; Production Designer Dennis Gassner. I have grown a bit leery of the “director’s” commentary where we learn, on EVERY disc for EVERY movie, that the entire cast loved each other, they all did a great job and that they were the only ones thought of for the role. There is also the Theatrical Trailer.
Of course we should discuss the quality of the video and audio.
At the theatres, I saw Skyfall as an Imax, 4G video and a regular movie.* The Imax was fantastic. The brightness, color and clarity of the movie was the best I had ever seen in a Bond movie, I really liked it. The surround sound was outstanding. The Bond movies are getting away from their original surround sound concept and placing you in the center of the action, rather than as an outside observer. The “regular” movie was not as bright or colorful, but was still a good picture. The surround sound was not as distinct, however, the Imax really stood out. I was then a bit disappointed to see the faded, less detailed and less “surround sounding” 4G video of the movie at the same theatre. I fear this is the wave of the future.
Here the picture is great, and mostly matches up to the regular movie version. Other movies shown in Imax have often filled up the screen. The movie is 10% letterbox. Not so here. While certain colors seemed more vivid in the Imax, you can see that the director is using different color palettes, some with more orange, some with more yellow, and some with softer colors to create a different tone at various points in the movie. There was a great scene in Imax, about 48 minutes into the movie that looks fine here, but was fantastic on the bigger screen.
It is still basically “Bond” surround sound. That is, it is heard from the viewer’s, not actor’s, point of view. Here most of the action and music appear in front of you, while in a George Lucas movie you hear it more from the actor’s POV and you are more surrounded by the sound and music.
*Knowing that I will get the Blu-Ray, I normally would not see a movie twice in the theater, let alone three times. However, I was blacked out for three weeks from Hurricane Sandy. So, rather than stay in a freezing house, I saw it twice on opening day. When my friends went a week later, I was still blacked out, so I tagged along.