Daniel Craig’s new James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’, which has received some tremendous critical reaction from various film commentators around the world, has also now been given a very positive review in the magazine of the prestigious British Film Institute (BFI) in London.
The December 2012 issue of the BFI’s highly-respected monthly publication Sight and Sound contains both a plot summary and review of the new 007 adventure, written by the magazine’s film reviewer Henry K. Miller. Movie producers and directors have often taken a close interest in the detailed reviews of Sight and Sound over the years, and a good verdict from the magazine has often been taken by industry insiders as a great critical seal of approval.
Miller was evidently impressed with ‘Skyfall’. After noting Judi ‘M’ Dench’s use of quotes from Tennyson’s Ulysses at one key stage in the movie’s storyline, Miller argues that the new Bond adventure, without breaking the new cycle begun by ‘Casino Royale’ in 2006, is ‘a pivotal episode in the 60-year cross-media, multi-author odyssey begun by the novel of the same name’.
In particular, in Miller’s estimation, Sam Mendes’s Bond adventure has been ‘dazzlingly photographed by Roger Deakins’, and ‘the sequences shot in wintry London and Scotland stand out’. Reflecting on how the entries in the 007 franchise have often oscillated between the gargantuan (‘You Only Live Twice’, ‘Moonraker’) to the more sober (‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, ‘For Your Eyes Only’), Miller contends that ‘Skyfall’ follows the pattern of change set by the gritty ‘Casino Royale’ and the pared-down ‘Quantum of Solace’. Miller feels that: ‘Deakins’s camerawork, free of the Bournian cutting that beset Quantum‘, is ‘the most striking instance’ of this general change.
He notes how Craig’s moodiness as 007 has been softened by the reintroduction of ‘Q’ and Moneypenny, and is also impressed with the main baddie in the movie. In fact, according to Miller, Javier Bardem as Silva ‘is the most authentically Bondian Bond villain in decades’, who, after an incident involving an MI6-issued cyanide pill, has been afflicted by what one former Bond author, Kingsley Amis, once argued was the sin qua non of the Bond villain: ‘extreme physical grotesqueness’.
Miller’s general verdict on ‘Skyfall’ is that Sam Mendes ‘has proved himself well up to the task’. This will be music to the ears of serious cinema-goers and Bond devotees, especially as the film industry is moving into the movie awards season.
The same December issue of Sight and Sound also carries a review by Geoffrey Macnab of ‘Everything or Nothing’ (EoN), the recently-released official documentary about the James Bond movie franchise and its development over the years. The 97-minute documentary, which was directed by the award-winning director Stevan Riley and received a brief cinema release in the UK just prior to the relase of ‘Skyfall’, also gains a good review from the BFI’s magazine. Macnab at one point calls the documentary ‘both revealing and surprisingly moving’, and concludes his review by saying that, despite its ‘official’ status, EoN remains ‘entertaining and enlightening viewing’.
The new issue of Sight and Sound magazine (vol.22, issue 12, December, 2012) is on sale in the UK now, priced £4.50.