Skyfall [Blu-Ray] Sam Mendes

Skyfall [Blu-Ray] Sam Mendes
9
With an abundance of mediocre to debatably bad films being recognized this awards season, the question of what makes a movie "good," or even the "best" of anything, is of particular relevance. Though Skyfall has been almost unanimously praised for its kinetic reinvention and tribute to the Bond series, having an intelligent thematic core and a rich emotional tapestry beyond its obvious technical aptitude, it's been limited to music, sound and cinematography recognition. And, indeed, the wide landscape imagery and intense use of colour and composition are stunning to behold, just as the sound and its editing are flawless. But why is the 23rd Bond film — one wherein he's left for dead after M (Judi Dench) makes a bad call on a routine mission — not considered the "best" anywhere else? The script, which finds Bond (Daniel Craig) struggling with loyalty and trust after his ersatz mother figure fails him, just as she did our cyber-criminal antagonist Silva (Javier Bardem), hits all the right notes. It mixes knowing series winks with character complexity and a culturally relevant, compelling story. The action is blended with pathos and a sharp deconstruction of the male ego, which, in turn, is telling of the modern preoccupation with superhero ethos and fantasy ideation. There's even a nod to the relevance of criminal investigation enterprises in a post-Cold War environment, where the enemy is invisible and ideologically vague. So, it can't be argued that the writing was lacking or superficial. Similarly, Sam Mendes's firm command of action and heartfelt storytelling is impeccably rendered; giving an astounding level of dimension to what is ostensibly a blockbuster escapist fantasy. His handling of moments between Bond and M are as heartfelt as those between Silva and 007, where the men square off mentally and physically in worldviews and will. And the performances from all three actors are exceedingly magnetic and complex, surpassing most of what was seen on the big screen throughout 2012. Even artistic elements like art direction and costume design are sharply realized, juxtaposing cold city landscapes and high-end attire with the organic earth hues and casual brown tones of the countryside where M and Bond eventually retreat to escape Silva's ultimate plan. This begs the question: Why is Skyfall not the "best" picture when every individual element is so superlative? Is it the current cultural trend? Are people in the media — Oscar voters — more preoccupied with politics (Lincoln) or self-congratulation (Argo) to care about the overall package of a film? Perhaps it's perception: Skyfall is technically an action film, which historically doesn't equate artistic merit. But even this is silly, since the amount of thought and layering that went into telling this particular story transcends the genre and even the franchise. It's not surprising that Skyfall is being recognized only for its technical aptitude, but in deconstructing its competitors, which are perceived as the potential "best," the dominant perception of quality is merely an illusion that can be attributed to buzz and marketing. It's a shame, since this intense cinematic experience is easily one of the best films to come out in 2012. The Blu-Ray includes an extensive "Making of," which details shooting internationally, killing off characters, casting and handling the overall myth of the series. It's extremely comprehensive, if a little too upbeat and self-flattering. There's also a commentary track and footage of the red carpet premiere. (Sony)