Why criticism on "Skyfall" never truly gained ground (but flourishes in small fan circles)

edited January 2015 in Skyfall Posts: 11,119
I'm very aware of all the criticism on "Skyfall". On the various topics that are being created in here. Discussing the lack of real on-location filming. Or the (over)-use of CGI. Not to mention the various plot holes of the film, the illogical build-ups towards the actions of the villain. Or what about "Skyfall" being a mere "copy" of Nolan's Batman-trilogy (Sam Mendes said it himself).

Very simply really. "Skyfall" is a perfect example of a movie that set its own rules. And the film got away with it in such style that people simply bought it. "Ate" it, with no hesitation. They devoured the movie, because, regardless of its flaws, the impact on average simply was too big. One can say that this in part is my personal impression. And there perhaps are many reviews of people or opinions of your friends that prove otherwise. But I think on average those can't be as much as, let's say, with "Quantum Of Solace", "Die Another Day" and even other Brosnan-films. For me there are simply too many other facts and aspects that override these flaws with such grand and joyous style, that I think this is a quality of the film in itself. And thát's actually one of the biggest reasons for its insane success.


Please let me elaborate with arguments:

--> Screenplay writing is a pivotal part of every movie. It's the seed for a good movie really. It has to have a near-perfect concoction of characterization (multi-layered characters), story (a trail of narrative breadcrumbs that tie all scenes together), tense dialogue (the actual words that will be spoken out) and a logical plot (one that can be explained, makes sense and that is believable). Having said this, there is no black-and-white approach to screen play writing. And in the end it's about the most effective concoction on average, not just about one single technical aspect about the writing (while plot can be illogical, it sometimes can be counter-acted so effectively by the characters that you don't notice it). And most importantly, it's about the total picture, the complete impact of the finished product.

--> A director makes the choices. Simply spoken, and absolutely true. But in essence it does mean what the focus point of the movie will be. Will it become a movie with a heavy focus on fully explained plot, and all its complexities, leaving out some more human aspects (take for example a movie like Nolan's "Memento")? Or will it have more focus on human drama and characterization, leaving certain plot explanations open for debate in a later stage? A movie that focuses on the "why", the motivation on the actions, instead of the exact "how"?

--> The impact of the characters as means of adding realism. Now I think director Sam Mendes really focused on this aspect of the screenplay, rather then trying to build up a very logical and fully explained plot as a means to add realism. Did this choice work? Well, looking at the impact of the film.....absolutely. Take for example Raoul Silva and his villainous scheme that he used as a vehicle for both revenge and destruction. Would his entrance, and its subsequent impact, still be as big if we saw him or a few of his henchmen "building the stones" or "planting the seeds" towards that destruction? Would the impact of Silva's entrance not be considerably softened if we saw him already right after the main title sequence? And what about the big terrorist attack on the MI-6 building? The latter scene would have lacked impact, a big surprise element ánd drama if we did see some of Silva's henchmen planning the attack.

--> The actual background history of the characters as a vehicle for the motivations. We like to see everything fully explained within the movie, within the "strict fence" of those 143 minutes. But adding personal background history to the character, that doesn't actually happen during the film, can add relevance and realism to the film as well. Who doesn't believe Silva's complete rage and anger? Who doesn't feel the struggle inside M's mind when she sees her "power" and control being destroyed so effectively, but without too much logical explanation, by Raoul Silva?

--> The impact of certain scenes. Fully explaining everything doesn't necessarily mean that it adds to a good film. Explanation doesn't necessarily translate into a multi-layered theme. Why was the porselain bulldog added? Perhaps we know the exact and final narrative explanation later in "SPECTRE". But at least in "Skyfall" the bulldog was as much as an allegory as compared to the frogs in "Magnolia" or the plastic bag in "American Beauty". Not only these scenes, but also the hack pop-ups on M's computers and Q's laptop at least render a "WTF"-moment with the viewers without actually fully explaining everything. One can dislike this approach, but that is then also a matter of opinion.

--> And the action. No matter what one says about the logic of the story, action can be interpreted in many ways. We tend to interpret it as "Bond style action". By that standard the aggressive shoot-out in the committee room was perhaps slightly less Bond-ian. But it was the first one of its kind that was at least original within the franchise, felt fresh, had dramatic impact and was part of the (political) narrative and the motivation of Silva. No matter how they were executed, they mostly weren't included as a piece of standard Bond-esque copy-paste work.


Do the above arguments suddenly make "Skyfall" a better movie? Off course not. That's certainly not my intention. But I do like to link the above cinematic choices partially to the success and its insane world wide box office gross. They could have at least facilitated the success of the film.

Furthermore, there are countless definitions and explanations to that black-and-white question we always ask ourselves: "Was it a very good movie?" For some Bond fans, "Skyfall" must have been a disappointment, because it didn't fulfill his or her template of the so called "good movie". It perhaps lacked action, or lacked logic in its plot. Other Bond fans loved the movie, because they were stunned by the memorable moments in the film, the drama, the characters and the visuals. Perhaps the elements of "Skyfall" had such a huge impact that it hid the flaws (CGI? Anyone?) in such a way, that it could also be seen as a quality of the film.

But what counts even more here is the overall impact of the film. The finished product, the final film, most likely was a very unique kind of Bond film in the franchise. The definition of what is a "good film" or a "bad film" has also been shaken up entirely by "Skyfall". It's not a film that presents straight-in-your-face answers and explanations. And it's not a film that injects you with the perfect concoction of Bond-elements or even standard film elements.

Perhaps that is a reason why many people actually like the film so much. And perhaps that's the reason why criticism outside the forum, as compared to many other Bond films in the franchise, still feels rather tame. Because on a Bond-forum some people judge a film subconsciously and unintentioally way more often along "the measuring rod of Bond elements". And perhaps the impact of the film also partially explains why negative reviews around the internet are scarce in amount as opposed to positive reviews. We can only say that €1.1 Billion Dollars have been spent worldwide by people who wanted to see the film, and who wanted to re-watch it....and re-watch it. Like me and many others.
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Comments

  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited January 2015 Posts: 23,883
    @Gustav_Graves, I will come back to this thread once I formulate my thoughts more clearly.

    At this point, all I can say is I enjoy SF very much indeed, plot holes and all. The plot holes are obvious to me, but I don't care, because all the rest of the movie is absolutely amazing. I have some issues with casting (particularly Harris as MP) and the action (somewhat lacking in some regards) but apart from that this is as close to a super entertaining Bond film as can be.

    It's currenly my go to event Bond movie. I'm not sure if that's because it's new and I've not seen it enough times, but regardless, I am very entertained by it. My next viewing will be just before SP comes out, in preparation.

    In particular, I love how gorgeous the film looks, the film's score, Severine, Silva, M (and I mean Fiennes....not Dench) and of course, DC, who is fast catching up on Connery as the Bond imo. The characterizations, acting and cinematography are what make this movie for me. They are absolutely spot on. Even Kincaide is brilliantly realized on screen. Everyone has a motivation and reason for acting the way they do, and it's clear to viewers, so viewers can sympathize with all the characters. That is why it's a great film imo, despite the obvious plot holes.

    I will be back once I think this through more.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    Lots of good writing & reasoning there but it basically boils down to do I wanna watch it again?
    I've been trying to.
    Want to, I mean. I've given this film two shots spread wide apart, and to tell the truth, at this point I'd rather see JW & hear the slide whistle again. :-S
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    chrisisall wrote: »
    ......and to tell the truth, at this point I'd rather see JW & hear the slide whistle again. :-S

    No problem with that from my perspective. One day I'm going to write a defence of that much maligned piece of early 1970's movie art - once I watch it again.
  • Posts: 4,427
    Our children will be discussing the merits of Skyfall in the same way that we discuss OHMSS: why? because there is a lot going on. Some may not like whats going on but thats just how it is.
  • Posts: 3,326
    I haven't quite decided if its a good or great bond movie. My opinion pretty much changes a little bit each time i watch it. But as it is now, it is my #12. And more in the "good" zone then the "great".
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    bondjames wrote: »
    No problem with that from my perspective. One day I'm going to write a defence of that much maligned piece of early 1970's movie art - once I watch it again.
    (Just picked it for the bad rep it gets- I like the film myself)

  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 4,470
    Most successful British film ever, period.

    I know financial success isn't necessarily indicative of quality (hello music industry), but still, it's fun to say :D

    Needless to say, I really love Skyfall, imperfections and all. Just thrilling to watch, for me.
  • Posts: 1,199
    SKYFALL, not one of the high points of the series for me. In regards to Craig in the role, Casino Royale was much more successful in achieving what it intended to do.
  • Posts: 1,552
    Which Bond film can you name without a single plot hole, that didn't lack logic, that's effects were completely believable? I love Skyfall because it's a good film that told a solid story and gave me what I wanted from a Bond film. It had flaws, but what Bond film hasn't had flaws - I could pick points from every film - hell - even Fleming's books had points that were completely unbelievable when you looked at them seriously.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    JCRendle wrote: »
    even Fleming's books had points that were completely unbelievable when you looked at them seriously.
    Yes, the delight in a Bond film (like the novels) is in the telling of the tale, not necessarily the sense it makes along the way. As a film, DAD was out of its freakin' mind, but it was never boring. As a film, SF is smooth narrative sailing, but the boring (to ME) 'Home Alone' protracted battle sabotaged an otherwise mostly fine adventure.
    Think on your sins, EON. Boring is the cardinal one IMO.
    ;)
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,232
    Love Skyfall. I can watch it again and again. Still fresh, exciting, and just great. No problem. :)
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    Love Skyfall. I can watch it again and again. Still fresh, exciting, and just great. No problem. :)
    Sorry, I really tried to like it...
    #-o
  • ThomasCrown76ThomasCrown76 Augusta, ks
    Posts: 757
    My kids love to watch Skyfall with me:)
  • Posts: 11,119
    My kids love to watch Skyfall with me:)


    I love to hear that ;-). Don't you think the movie at times is a bit...too violent for your kids? I mean, there's a lot of terrorism (attacks) in the film. From plain deadly shoot outs to blowing up the entire MI6-building. Not to mention the 8 coffins that can be seen in the film.
  • Posts: 11,425
    His kids might be grown adults for all we know. ;)
  • Posts: 11,119
    Getafix wrote: »
    His kids might be grown adults for all we know. ;)

    True, but would he talk like that about his grown-up kids, aged 25 or more :-)?
  • Posts: 11,425
    They're always your kids, however old they are.
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    Posts: 4,288
    "rather then trying to build up a very logical and fully explained plot as a means to add realism."

    Since when are any of the Bond films realistic? On the realism scale of 1-10, most Bond films top out at a 2. And by comparison, SF might be the most realistic of all of them.
  • DaltonCraig007DaltonCraig007 They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    edited January 2015 Posts: 15,534
    TripAces wrote: »
    "rather then trying to build up a very logical and fully explained plot as a means to add realism."

    Since when are any of the Bond films realistic? On the realism scale of 1-10, most Bond films top out at a 2. And by comparison, SF might be the most realistic of all of them.

    I am a SF fan, but it was not realistic by any stretch of the imagination. No way would the head of MI6 and one of it's operative be patting themselves on the back after single handidly bringing the former MI6 boss in grave danger with no backup in the middle of nowhere and getting her killed.
  • Posts: 4,427
    by comparison
  • edited January 2015 Posts: 4,622
    I don't think criticism of SF languishes in small fan circles at all. There are very few Bond films other than maybe FRWL that escape without fan circle criticism.
    All Bond films have their fan-circle critic clubs.
    I consider myself chartered, card carrying, member of the fan-circle critic club for all of CR QoS and SF.
    I have vomited up voluminous critique of all three films, on this board, and elsewhere.
    Its all out there. I am done with it for now. Far more interested in the new film, which I am now sure will be the absolute best of the Craig films by about a million miles.
    In fact if this film is as good, as I think it will be,I invite Craig to come back and do a couple more.
    SP might rank with some of the great Bonds of all-time in fact.
    However, continuity and plot holes were never one of my issues with SF. I can explain anything in SF. The whole film hangs together quite well as does CR.
    It does take a couple of viewings maybe to fit everything together, but its all there.
    I have seen all the Craig films at least 10x if not more. I stop counting at 10 views for any Bond film. I get anxious until I have ten viewing under my belt.
    In fact, there is no Bond film for which I cannot explain away a supposed plot hole.
    I've been on these boards long enough, to have witnessed all of the supposed plot holes for all of the films, sussed out and explained in various discussions.
    The one that nagged for the longest time, and was finally explained by a member of this community, was how Tiffany managed to recognize Ernst and his cat, walking through the casino in DAF, but I digress.
    There is nothing in SF that can't be explained.
    But that aside, there is lots wrong with it, but plot holes isn't an issue IMO.

    I am very glad that Babs seems to be putting a priority on location shooting with SP.
    SF, though nicely shot, didn't get out-and-about for real, the way the new film is doing.
  • Posts: 11,425
    Well I guess they have more money this time.
  • Posts: 11,119
    timmer wrote: »
    I don't think criticism of SF languishes in small fan circles at all. There are very few Bond films other than maybe FRWL that escape without fan circle criticism.

    True, but at times I have the idea that Skyfall is being a bit "over-criticised". There's a topic about the CGI for instance. I think it's important to put things into perspective really. Some people create some kind of snow-ball effect unconsciously regarding the "unwanted CGI" in Skyfall.

    Just compared "Skyfall" with "Die Another Day" then. On many occasions the CGI in DAD was not needed at all, but in "Skyfall" I think it serves a purpose at times, to create gripping scenes that couldn't be filmed with miniatures or in complete real-life.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,377

    True, but at times I have the idea that Skyfall is being a bit "over-criticised". There's a topic about the CGI for instance. I think it's important to put things into perspective really. Some people create some kind of snow-ball effect unconsciously regarding the "unwanted CGI" in Skyfall.

    Just compared "Skyfall" with "Die Another Day" then. On many occasions the CGI in DAD was not needed at all, but in "Skyfall" I think it serves a purpose at times, to create gripping scenes that couldn't be filmed with miniatures or in complete real-life.

    The only problem I have with CGI, is on the helicopters over Sliva's Island. Surely, a) they could have got a few real helicopters, or, b) not have them at all. "Gripping scenes?" In that particular scene, it reminded me too much of Austin Powers, especially with the music cue.
  • Die Another Day is a dumb Bond movie that is a guilty pleasure.

    Skyfall is a dumb Bond movie that thinks its smart.
  • Posts: 11,119
    AstonLotus wrote: »
    Die Another Day is a dumb Bond movie that is a guilty pleasure.

    Skyfall is a dumb Bond movie that thinks its smart.

    Die Another Day is a dumb Bond movie that can't think for itself. Skyfall is a film that finally thinks.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 16,358
    Die Another Day is fun.
  • Posts: 11,119
    chrisisall wrote: »
    Die Another Day is fun.

    Skyfall is fun too :-D.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    I admit, they are both fun. Can't take either too seriously really. One has a guy who goes from Asian to Caucasian and the other has a guy with a fake jaw.
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,495
    Just compared "Skyfall" with "Die Another Day" then. On many occasions the CGI in DAD was not needed at all, but in "Skyfall" I think it serves a purpose at times, to create gripping scenes that couldn't be filmed with miniatures or in complete real-life.

    I don't think any scenes in SF that rely heavily on CGI are 'gripping'. Andy Serkis delivers gripping CGI work. Dan's head on a stunt double, a computer game Komodo Dragon and a Command & Conquer helicopter don't do it for me. CGI should be used sparingly and more importantly, appropriately on Bond.


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