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Daniel Craig

Skyfall is a visit with an old friend and a glimpse into the future

 

The latest installment of the James Bond series, Skyfall, is a perfect piece to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the series. It looks back to established characters and gadgets and forward to the future with new characters and more state-of-the-art gadgets.

The movie also gives us more background information on the James Bond character by taking us to the estate, Skyfall, where Bond grew up. Skyfall is a transition piece where we pay homage to and bid farewell to the past and are introduced to new characters. This reassures us that those behind the Bond franchise intend to keep it going even though the studio and others have had some rocky times.

The tone of Skyfall is a little different from other Bond movies in the past but it has enough of the familiar elements to make us feel comfortable with the new format. Bond still has the quiet sophistication and exotic locations we have come to love; and, the movie has the thrilling chases and explosions that always mark a Bond film. And, of course, there are the Bond girls and sex. Oh yes, and he still looks great in his tux.

Daniel Craig as agent 007, James Bond, is every woman’s dream—a handsome, tough but sensitive guy. This is Craig’s third time to play Bond and I find he adds believability to the character that was missing from the previous Bonds.

Javier Bardem is the villain in Skyfall. He plays a former MI6 agent who has become a cyber terrorist and is seeking revenge against those he thinks betrayed him. Bardem once again turns in an excellent performance as a villain and is downright creepy with his bleached blond hair.

Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory is a former lieutenant colonel in the British Army and is a character we will be seeing in the future.

Judi Dench as M makes her seventh appearance in the role and, as always, is stern but concerned about her agents. This time she seems to have the pressure of the world on her shoulders.

Skyfall is a delight for us old-timers who were around for the first Bond 50 years ago and it should pick up some of the younger generation at the same time.

For a fun time with an old friend see Bond, James Bond, in Skyfall.

I give Skyfall an A.

 

MOVIE REVIEW: Cowboys and Aliens …and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

The cast of Cowboys & Aliens at the 2010 San D...
Image via Wikipedia

 What do you get when you mix two popular but completely different movie genres? From my viewpoint it is a bit of a mess like a hot fudge sunday with bananas, strawberries, and pineapple thrown in and a cherry on top. Oh, that’s right, that’s called a banana split.

Cowboys and Aliens is a science fiction/western/action film starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. It goes deep into cowboy country but then takes a sharp turn into Star Wars. It is a bit unsettling to be lulled into the rhythm of a cowboy lullaby accompanied by the clomp, clomp of the horses and then jerked awake by aliens descending to earth in something left over by the star fleet.

If I had not seen a program on the History Channel about unexplained UFOs sighted in the old west in the 1800s, I would have found the premises pretty hard to take; but it seems that the movie is, indeed, based loosely on fact with a lot of fiction thrown in. I guess this earth could have had visitors from the great beyond many times over the centuries but as movie goers we become accustomed to only one genre at a time. We go into the theatre wearing either our cowboy hat, tri-cornered hat, or baseball cap and settle back to be entertained. Combining the two genres is certainly new and something we might expect from the most accomplished producers of our time—Steven Spielberg, and Ron Howard and Brian Glazier. These names are synonymous with great entertainment and it is reassuring they are still trying to push the envelope and not be content to rest on their laurels.

Our main character, Jake Lonergan, played by Daniel Craig awakes in the middle of the desert with no memory of how he got there or why. He finds a strange metal bracelet that won’t come off but comes in handy shooting the bad guys. The protagonist of the story, Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde, played by Harrison Ford rules the town with a mean temper and cold heart. In a typical western, the basic plot would end here with the two main characters fighting to the bitter end; but once these two main characters are established cue the Star Wars music. Once another conflict is added to the story then the two enemies join forces to fight their common enemy. In another plot twist to the traditional western, we also find the cowboys combining forces with their traditional enemy the Indians. One more element is added to the plot in the form of beautiful but mysterious Ella played by former House cast member, Olivia Wilde.  

As a former English teacher I must take a detour here and comment on the obvious symbolism of the names of the two main characters—Lonergan and Dolarhyde. We get the impression that Jake Lonergan has been a loner all his life and would be happy to continue as such if it weren’t for the current circumstances. On the other hand, Col. Dolarhyde owns the town and has bought off every citizen in it.

With all these non-traditional ingredients thrown together, the movie could have become a farce as in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World; however the strength of the main characters keeps the movie on track and propels it towards its climatic conclusion. Craig, formerly known as James Bond, and Ford, formerly known as Indiana Jones and Hans Solo, adapt well to the western genre and I would love to see both of them in similar movies in the future.

Cowboys and Aliens is a fun summer film to watch. Will it become a classic, only time will tell; but it is definitely groundbreaking in combining genres. I give it a B.