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Mar 10, 2013

Blu-ray Review: SKYFALL (2012): Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem

Daniel Craig Skyfall National Gallery

Skyfall (2012) Blu-ray Review, a movie directed by Sam Mendes, written by Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan, and starring Daniel Craig, Ralph FiennesJavier BardemJudi Dench, Naomie Harris, Helen McCrory, Javier Bardem, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Tom Wu, and Michael G. Wilson.

Release Date: February 12, 2013

Film Review

Skyfall is a fitting release for the much-lauded James Bond 50th anniversary and Daniel Craig cements himself as a worthy successor to the Bond legacy. The film brings Bond full circle to the place of his origin. His childhood, the adult life, and family he has created for himself collide with spectacular results. Craig’s Bond has completed his journey from nearly impenetrable tough guy to wounded warrior to weary agent inexorable dedicated to crown and country. After years of romancing across the globe, we meet a Bond who has loved and lost and is finally forced to confront his own mortality. He is aging and finally aware his work is all he has—or is it? He has sacrificed any personal feelings in the performance of his duties but some sliver of emotion, be it love, hate, or grudging admiration, has managed to seep in. He is driven to protect M., not only because of her position as his superior commander but because of her role as his surrogate mother all these years.

Skyfall delivers the expected exotic locales and not one but two beautiful Bond girls with Naomie Harris’ Eve and Bérénice Marlohe’s Sévérine. Marlohe does not have very much screen time but the velvet tones of her voice and exotic turn as a former Macau sex worker turned mistress to Silva leave a memorable impression. She is the conduit to bring Bond to his nemesis and set the second portion of the film in motion. Harris is pleasant, fresh faced, and a perfect counterpoint to Bond’s usual steeliness. Her lighthearted quips bring out a softer side of him and have him flirting with a bit of a spring in his step even as they joke about her life-changing kill shot. It will be interesting to see how her character develops and interacts with Bond in future films.

Ralph Fiennes turns in a competent if colorless performance as uptight Gareth Mallory and Ben Whishaw is pleasantly adorable as the young new Q.

Dench’s M. is the tie between Bond and his antagonist; in her seventh turn as the commander of the MI6 agents we see the most complex and strong side of her character yet. We glimpse her decision-making process and gain a new appreciation for the compromises she has to make as she literally holds dozens of lives in her hands. We see her apartment and hear of her late husband who instilled in her a love of poetry. M. may be a mother-figure of sorts to her agents, but she shows even the brightest and the best nothing but tough love. Upon Bond’s unexpected resurrection she greets him with: “where the hell have you been?”, shows no surprise whatsoever, and then deadpans how he should seek a shower and accommodations other than her apartment. Face to face with Silva, formerly her most promising agent, she listens to his rant then tells him she does not remember him and will never see him again. M. is the lady of steel with a heart of stone that warms from time to time in the brilliance of her protégés.

Javier Bardem delivers the most memorable Bond villain since Christopher Walken in 1985′s A View to a Kill. As Silva, he shocks and delights with his unpredictable and humorous sociopath in his introductory scene. Over 15 years, he amassed a huge fortune through cyber-terrorism all with the aim of financing the ultimate vendetta against M. He sees himself as kindred with Bond and views him as a worthy adversary, possible partner, and de facto brother due to their mutual ties and emotional dependence upon M. His well-planned attacks keep him a step ahead of Bond and MI6 throughout the movie until Bond is forced to rely, both literally and figuratively, upon his foundation.

Skyfall is one of the most satisfying Bond films in decades and possibly one of the best in the franchise—right up there with Dr. No, Goldfinger, Moonraker, and Craig’s own Casino Royale. It is not difficult to see why the film has earned over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the highest grossing Sony Pictures film in history and the 7th highest grossing film in history. Unlike some of the other actors who have played Bond or simply filled a space that is almost universally agreed to belong to Sean Connery, Craig is Bond, James Bond. He is physical. He is sexual. He is intellectual enough to outsmart even the most cunning adversary and he is all too human.

Skyfall Bluray

Disc

Run time:  143 minutes
Format: NTSC, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
Region: A/1 (DVD), Region-free (Blu-ray)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Simplified Mandarin, Norweigian, Russian, Swedish, French
Rating:  PG-13

Video  

Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Cinematographer Roger Deakins filmed Skyfall in 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encode with a standard 35mm 2.40:1 aspect ratio. In addition to the regular theatrical releases, the film was released to IMAX theaters and shown in both digital and 70mm, with a framing increase from 2.40:1 to 1.85:1 to take advantage of additional IMAX theater height. Deakins’ digital photography allowed the film to be reframed for IMAX without the nearly universal upconverting; hopefully at some point in the future, an IMAX-formatted Blu-ray release is planned.

Deakins rightly received an Academy Award nomination for his cinematography on Skyfall: the high-definition digital transfer is absolutely stunning with no artifacts or banding.  The Blu-ray has all the subtlety, texture, and detail of the theatrical release. Fleshtones are true, primaries pop, and blacks are deep and inky while whites remain crisp.  The film’s detail is exquisite, allowing the audience to see each whisker on old dog Bond’s face before saucy young Eve shaves them off.  The rich earth tones, dust, and haze of Istanbul give way to the most hauntingly beautiful opening montage to a Bond film to date, set to Adele’s crooning of the Academy Award-nominated title track.

The bright electric neon primaries and secondaries underscore the Blade Runner-like futuristic techno quality of Shanghai; the entrancing projection of neon jellyfish and play of light and glass in Patrice’s assassination scene almost overshadow the action itself.  Macau is equally decadent in its bright reds and deep lacquered blacks; Deakins effectively captures the smoke, the sweat from a chilled martini glass—shaken, not stirred—and the light of the lanterns reflecting off the waves. Silva’s stolen island is appropriately clay colored, as devoid of all signs of life as his barren heart. London is as staid and grey as stodgy MI6, an organization whose dedication to old-fashioned intelligence is called into question in today’s changing world. Scotland, the place of Bond’s truncated childhood is cold and imposing in greys and blues until the final scenes in searing oranges.  Her secrets both haunt and protect Bond in the end; as Kincade says, “Sometimes the old ways are the best.”

Audio

Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, French:  Dolby Digital 5.1, English:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Russian DTS 5.1, Ukranian DTS 5.1

Director Sam Mendes chose to part with composer David Arnold who scored all the films from Tomorrow Never Dies through Quantum of Solace.  He brought in collaborator Thomas Newman for a fresh sound that still makes ample use of John Barry‘s trademark Bond sound while mixing in a more holistic symphonic sound with location-specific music in his Academy Award-Nominated soundtrack.

The disc’s DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is an Academy Award-Nominated, lossless mix that deftly highlights Newman’s sound track. Panning and directionality are superb:  bullets whiz by, casino chips clink, and vehicles speed past all over the sound-field. The audio excels in both action scenes and softer dialogue; the tones of each character’s voice are highlighted from the clipped and cold tones of M., to Bond’s gruff delivery, Mallory’s superior attitude, Silva’s slippery smooth Spanish accent, and Eve’s bubbly cheekiness. The subtleties are just as noticeable as all the loud shots, crashes, and bangs. The way the rain outside M.’s office window coalesces into the waterfall, then slide into the opening montage is seamless. The disc’s audio is just as satisfying as the video; I could listen to the film without the video and still feel the thrill of the action scenes and the voyeurism of the more intimate dialogue.

Special Features

Commentary with Director Sam Mendes

The director provides scene by scene analysis and discussion of his strategies for ratcheting up the action and emotion, incorporating suggestions from cast and crew, revising the script, and working with editor Stuart Baird, cinematographer Deakins, and composer Newman. He reveals the last three Ian Fleming novels as inspiration for the film and drops little bits of trivia about locations.

Commentary with Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner

The designer and producers offer occasional commentary on the film while spending much of the time watching and admiring the work they brought to the big screen.  There is little in the way of actual revelation here.

Shooting Bond (1080p, 1.78:1, 58:24)

This is a comprehensive documentary of the entire production of the film. The director, producers, cast, writers, and department heads provide commentary on the making of the film mixed in with clips.

Intro (2:26), Opening Sequence (4:19), Title Sequence (2:56), 007 (3:48), Q (1:59), DB5 (1:36), Women (4:27), Villains (6:51), Action (3:33), Locations (3:24), Music (3:43), End Sequence (14:03), M (4:47), and The Future (2:13).

Skyfall Premiere

The world premiere on October 23, 2012 at the Royal Albert Hall was attended by Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. This featurette includes interviews with Mendes, Craig, Harris, Bardem, Fiennes, and others.

Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2.40:1, 2:31)

The action-packed teaser for the film’s theatrical release.

Soundtrack Promotional Spot (1080p, 2.40:1, 0:40)

Composer Thomas Newman conducts his orchestra to introduce the soundtrack.

Sneak Peek (1080p, variable, 15:42)

A Good Day to Die Hard*, The Blu-ray Experience*, 3D Comes Home*, Bond 50th Anniversary*, Red Dawn*, Taken 2, Broken City, Hitchcock, Marine 3, and Shadow Dancer.

* These sneak peeks also play when the disc first loads.

Where you can purchase this Blu-ray

You can purchase Skyfall on Blu-ray here: Buy Now.

  • Jay

    Love this movie

  • Rollo Tomasi

    Same here.