With a record-breaking franchise opening, nearly universal critical love (even ole Armand White couldn’t help but fall for it), and a general sense that Bond has the zeitgeist in the passenger seat, taking it for a ride in the DB 5, it’s clear the MI6 agent is as popular as ever.
I certainly loved the film, and though I would have loved to be a part of Nick & Steve’s great Tag Team Review or to put out my own review like Tim, I didn’t manage to catch it until opening day. The trade off of waiting and seeing it in IMAX for the first time was absolutely worth it though. I’ll leave my technical impressions for later*, but suffice to say it was gorgeous, and turned a great movie into even more of a great experience.
As for the film itself, I’m still planning for a second viewing to unpack a lot of the film is doing. I don’t know that it’s 100% cleanly successful at exploiting/scrutinizing all the themes it engages, but it is certainly successful it getting a lot of mileage out of the tension between old school vs new school, chaos vs. order, mystery vs. depth, and nihilism vs. patriotism. Bardem plays a beautifully uncorked wacko, and the introduction of familiar and novel elements all works like gangbusters. Perhaps Mendes isn’t the most inventive or exhilarating action director out there, but I will say that the fight in silhouette in the first half of the film may be my favorite action moment of the year.
In any event, I thought I’d round up some of the cool stuff out there this fine Veteran’s Day for everyone still buzzing off seeing the film this weekend, and looking to prolongue their Bond high.
Skyfall claimed a $87.8 million dollar domestic opening which amounts to:
• The best opening of a Bond film in the 50 Year history of the franchise• Twice the opening of Craig’s first outing Casino Royale, which (give or take some inflation) took $40.8m• The fourth-highest opening of the year• The Number 1 non-Potter, non-Twilight November opening ever• A big bump to the massive international total, wich is now up to $428.6m. It’s probably already passed Casino Royale‘s worldwide haul, is set to beat the Avengers in the UK, and will likely be the highest-grossing Bond film across the board when all is said and done, getting within some visible distance of a $1b.
Aston Martins Replicated
You don’t just blow up a 50 year old Aston Martin DB 5, especially one that is making its re-debut to the Bond franchise after first appearing in Goldfinger. So to solve the problem of not destroying a priceless car while not restricting themselves to going easy on Bond’s ride in the film, the filmmakers decided CGI wasn’t the way to go (a choice I wish they’d made elsewhere as well) and instead called on a 3D printing company to make them three perfectly-replicated model Aston Martins that could be shot up, exploded, or stomped by a dinosaur if they so chose (only two of those things happen).
While in the theater I certainly had a mental groan when I saw such a beautiful car go up in flames, I never for a second questioned the reality of it, so it was definitely a successful technique. Stuff like this makes me excited about the possibilities of 3D-printing and other futuristic, corporeal technologies that might give real life effects some edge over CGI again.
Check out the full explanation of the process here.
007 Is A Coke-head
A promotional campaigns has to be pretty clever to be worth mentioning, and this one from Coke to promote their sponsorship of Skyfall definitely qualifies. While it seems a little slickly shot to be a legitimately candid stunt, I’ve also worked in reality TV and seen the lengths productions will go to shoot stunts like this elaborately. Even if it is faked (and I feel like it’s not), it’s funny enough to earn your 30 seconds.
The basic idea is that a rigged coke machine forced a bunch of (exclusively young, hipstery) dudes to blast through their own Bondian chase scene to get premiere tickets. Check it out.
Bond Sounds Big
Not much to say here except sound should never be forgotten, and that any film this successful and carefully engineered also features an extraordinary amount of hidden work on the part of the sound team. Check out some of that work in the fun five-minute Soundworks video below. I’m so pleased this site has blossomed and become a standard- I’ve always enjoyed covering them. That said, I do wish they’d step things up and go a little deeper. These sound people are great, but I think the public is ready for some more specific case-studies, concrete examples of techniques, etc. etc. Step it up guys!
Bond in IMAX
*The film is presented in IMAX in 19:1, which more closely resembles the open-frame ratio you’re used to with the Nolan films and other blockbusters featuring legitimate IMAX footage. In this case the filmmakers simply went back to their uncropped Arri Alexa digital footage and upscaled that for IMAX digital projectors. While the Alexa is ultimately a camera that exports a clean 2K image, since IMAX digital is currently based on layering two 2k projections on top of each other, it works out for a very bright, clean image that accentuates and oftentimes enhances Deakins gorgeous choices.
I’ve gotten into some arguments about this, but I’m confident most will agree that IMAX is worth the price of admission in this case. It’s not exactly a purists point-of-view, but I actually had a better time with this 2k blowup than I did with the native 70mm showing of The Dark Knight Rises. While there are most certainly shots in TDKR that blow anything in Skyfall out of the water, as a rule the focus-pulling for IMAX-shot footage is so difficult that I was often as distracted by blurry noses and in-focus ears or just outright blurry hero shots than I was impressed by the scale of the photography. I’m not saying IMAX photography isn’t a worthwhile endeavor or anything, but when a 2K projection is right this minute competing handily with outright 70mm… I don’t see how there’s any argument that photochemical has more than a five year (or so) lifespan.
That’s just me though.
Oh, and I didn’t get one of these badass lithograph Bond posters that they apparently gave out at Midnight IMAX releases. I’m going to go pout now…