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Skyfall (Blu-ray Review)

21 Feb, 2013 By: John Latchem

Box Office $303.95 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking.
Stars Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace.

What’s left to be said about James Bond after 50 years? As Skyfall demonstrates, quite a lot, actually.

The 23rd film in the official series pits Bond (Daniel Craig) against a criminal mastermind (Javier Bardem) who is exposing undercover operatives as part of a personal vendetta against spymaster M (Judi Dench). It soon becomes personal for Bond as well.

Craig’s first two films as 007 — 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace — sought to reinvent the character with a back-to-basics approach and a harder edge than the traditional portrayal of a playboy superspy with a taste for martinis and a reputation for one-liners. Skyfall provides a fitting conclusion to the “Bond Begins” trilogy by literally returning Bond to his roots while paying homage to the classic elements of the franchise by putting a clever twist on them.

The tone is set early on with Adele’s soulful title song, which plays during a surreal trip through Bond’s fractured psyche.

The action sequences are top-notch, but what sets Skyfall apart is that it’s just a beautiful film to look at. From a fight silhouetted against a bright billboard in Shanghai to a drive through the Scottish countryside, each shot is meticulously staged by director Sam Mendes and veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins. The result is a franchise installment that will have to be considered in any discussion about the greatest Bond films ever made.

Extras on the Blu-ray are actually pretty good. After a light menu of bonus material with Quantum of Solace, which didn’t include a commentary, there’s a lot more to offer this time around, including two commentary tracks. One with Mendes focuses more on the technical aspects of the production. The other features production designer Dennis Gassner with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the sibling team whose father, Cubby Broccoli, co-founded the production company dedicated to bringing the Bond films to the big screen for half a century.

The thrust of the extras is geared toward an hour’s worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes covering various elements of the movie, such as the music, the characters and several key scenes. Footage from the film’s premiere rounds out the package.

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