Monday, November 19, 2012

Were you expecting an exploding pen?

As I've mentioned countless times, my actual job, allegedly, is teacher. Every day I go to war with middle school kids and try to convince them of the importance of words and reading. And every day, someone says that reading is doing too much. Though they probably use to because they don't read enough to know the difference between the two. They just want to go on the computers or iPads and play games and take pictures of themselves. Very few really buy what I'm selling. Higher ups say that we've got to change the way we teach, that traditional ways just aren't good enough anymore. We need to make everything a project, an experience, that resonates with the kids. Times have changed they say. Once, I was even told don't teach them anything they could simply Google.

I love Daniel Craig so much I actually hate him. Handsome, charming bastard.
I don't know what industry you're in, but chances are, in the name of profits and bottom lines, it is becoming less about people and more about machines and technology.  I feel your pain. So does Bond. James Bond.

Before I really get started, let me admit it right now: I'm not a big Bond guy. At all. Yet despite that, I had a blast with the latest entry, Sam Mendes' kickass Skyfall.

The story is pretty straightforward. Bond must get back a stolen hard drive that contains the identity of numerous embedded agents. Naturally, an exceedingly badass chase ensues and Bond recovers it rather easily. He nails some hot broad with a groovy accent aaand...credits. 

No, wait. That's not it. Bond dies and the hard drive finds its way into the wrong hands, thereby putting dozens of lives in peril. Eh, close enough.

Further detailing the plot would ruin the fun, but it's safe to say that Skyfall has a few cool tricks up its sleeve, despite still delivering all the hallmarks of the fifty-year old franchise. Hot chick? Check. Sweet cars? Most definitely.  People represented by the cooler letters of the alphabet? You bet. Creepy villain? Um, how about the creepiest? But my personal favorite? An aging and vulnerable 007. That, perhaps surprisingly, was what really sealed it for me. Somehow, even if just barely, I could really relate to a guy holding on to the way things were. At the end of the day, sometimes you have to forego technology altogether, roll your sleeves up, and get your hands dirty. For Bond, that means literally kicking ass. Same goes for me. Just replace ass with books. And kicking with reading.

This seems like a fine place to check in with the Yays and Boos. They should have been doing their homework, but I caught them watching On Her Majesty's Secret Service again. Big Lazenby guys, those two. Big spoilers, too.

Too much clothes + not enough screen time =  my sadness
  • Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond ever. Yeah, I said it. So dreamy...
  • Well, now I've officially seen the best way to board a train ever.
  • I've always loved a good rooftop motorcycle chase. Always.
  • I liked the opening number a lot, as well. I've found some of them cheesy and goofy, but this one was slick.
  • The new Q. Very charming young man. Though, he's on the verge of having too much hair to properly function (honestly surprised he doesn't just fall right over).
  • The elevator grab was pretty smooth. Not sure that was the smartest move ever, but I liked it.
  • New Mortal Kombat level proposal: Komodo Dragon Pit Battle Arena. Finish Him!
  • Bond the environmentalist: Saving water, one shower at a time.
  • Speaking of, Ms. Marlohe? Oh, girl. You fine.
  • Javier Bardem creates a fascinating villain. Everything about him is charmingly creepy. You know, the ol' Nice guy, and all. But...weird as shit. Loved his crazy-ass rat story.
  • I debated on including this in the Yays, but was anybody else reminded of Home Alone toward the end? Just for a second, I thought the Wet Bandits were the ones descending upon Skyfall.
  • The only thing better than Albert Finney? Is Albert Finney...with a great, big, bushy beard!!
  • And finally, I loved how everything was tied together at the end. It all came together quite nicely.
Pick any aspect of this scene. Awkward, right? Even the background.
  • So, you're trying to shoot a guy on a moving train and you inadvertently hit your friend. Hmm. That sucks. But...might as well take another shot. You know, while you're there.
  • Well, thanks a lot movies. Now, I refuse to drink anything unless a deadly scorpion is inches from my face.
  • Wolf Blitzer has a SAG card? What the shit is this?
  • Alright M. You's a cold bitch - that's fine. But you can't let ol' Jimmy crash at your place even for one night? Hardcore, M. Hardcore.
  • Mallory to M. He's lost a step. Perhaps you can't see it. Dude, that's pretty f--ked up. She can't help it. [Okay, even I thought that was rude.]
  • Why did JB wait on the assassination attempt in Asian Glass Tower? If that was my head that was blown off, needless to say I'd be pretty upset with 007.
  • Orphans always made the best recruits. Poor little guys. Can't even go see a Bond flick without leaving the theater in tears. Way to go, M.
  • Silva literally creates the most intricate plan ever. I mean, this guy is throwing subway cars at people. But all this preparation climaxes in messy, public shootout? Hmm. About that...
  • Are all old Scottish mansions built out of purely explosive materials? Goodness.
  • And finally, this sucker was an epic. I know we have a 50-point checklist of obligations, but could keeping it under two hours be one of them? 
After seeing this one, and enjoying it so much I've decided I'm going to track down some vintage Bond and learn a few things. I was thinking I'd hit up the Roger Moore era, then maybe some of the Connery flicks that I haven't seen.

I know, what a waste of time, right? I mean, I could just Google it.


  1. I already did my Bond marathon before this came out so was think of reading the original Ian Fleming novels next. But screw that I'll just Google it now. Why read about Bond girls when you have Google images.

    1. If you were in front of me right now, I would shake your hand.

  2. Great review M. Not my favorite Bond ever, but still a very good one that definitely has me excited for what's next to come.

    1. I liked it. Since I've only seen about 5 or 6 Bond flicks. What's the best? Help a brother out, Dan.

    2. For me, it was Dr. No. But that's my humble opinion. Gotta see a lot more for myself, too.

    3. Good. I actually own that one. I'll check it out.

  3. Great review! I honestly didn't think you'd be a fan, so I'm really glad you liked it! Javier Bardem's bad guy was so gross. I was totally creeped out by him the whole time - especially the blond hair. It was very reminiscent of Christopher Walken's villain in View to a Kill. As I mentioned earlier, I personally loved Q, mostly because of his hair! And his sweaters. You know what's funny? I thought the same thing when they were getting the house booby trapped - I was just waiting for M to start throwing paint buckets down the stairs or laying down glass Christmas ornaments for the bad guys to step on! All in all, it was a great flick - it took me a little while to get to into, but once we finally met Silva, I was fully onboard. Loved the little references to older bond movies (ie. the title of your post), loved Daniel Craig's portrayel of Bond (I agree, he's the best) and getting to see some of his past, and loved the focus on M in this one - I'm a big Judi Dench fan. Can't think of the last time I cried at the end of a Bond movie, but this one got me.

    1. Silva shows up at what...the 90 minute mark. It's odd to not fully feature a cool villain like Bardem, but it also works too.

      Q, Of course you loved that guy. Smarmy Brit, that guy. But likable and dorky.

      Dench is a classy broad, and I'm down for her no-bullshit M.

      Though I'm not surprised, I can't believe you cried. At a Bond movie.
      Like, actual tears?

    2. It wasn't Moulin Rouge-esque full blown weeping, but yes, I did shed a few tears along with 007. Let's also remember that I'm 5 months pregnant, which may or may not have influenced my emotional state.

    3. Excuses, excuses. You're a big softy. 5 months pregnant. Or 100.

  4. I'm surprised you didn't include M's final moments as BOO - I literally laughed out loud because it was all so silly 1. Bond brings elderly woman with him to remote place 2. they don't have many weapons though they could have brought a dozen of guns if they only tried 3. M is wounded by some secondary character without a name and she is too proud to ask for help so she dies. I mean, I liked the movie, but that whole 3rd act as impressively shot as it was, was actually less clever than Home Alone :)

    If Kevin got an ouchie he would have asked for help :)

    1. For some reason, I wasn't feeling like a cynical prick near the resolution. And by that I mean myself. I honestly think that by the time we were at the end of M. I was just thankful that the movie was wrapping up.

      Everything you say is true though, it was a tad ridiculous. I hate just about 99% of scenes where a character reveals to um, themselves that they've been wounded (shot). I'm pretty sure if I were ever shot, I wouldn't need to move my blouse aside and pat the gaping wound for verification. I know it's necessary for the audience to see, but still.

      I don't know. Kevin was a pretty bad ass motherf--ker. Even though he never wanted to sleep with Fuller. That dude wets the bed.

  5. I am not a Bond fan, but this movie has a great cast! Albert Finney? Love him!

    I admire public educators -- it's a tremendous profession and possibly one of the few that has the potential to change the world, if you ever get bureaucrats and administrators out of your way so you can properly teach. I have been home schooling my kids for about 10 years, for various reasons. Largely because our schools here in Virginia seem to have become training facilities for passing standardized tests. Which is tragic, especially since we have so many magnificent teachers who really know what they're doing, when they're allowed to do it.

    I teach middle school students online (writing courses) and love it -- my students are awesome. But I'd rather have a sharp stick in my eye than be a classroom teacher.

    And no, I'm not opinionated. Not a bit.

    1. Completely agree about Finney. I genuinely love the man (Big Fish!).

      Teaching in the inner-city is difficult, near impossible really. It's hard enough to undo the generational indifference toward education, and that's before we get to the dreaded standardized testing madness. I completely understand your choice to homeschool, and fully support those who make that decision. The best thing any parent can do for their child's education is to simply be way or another.

      This is the kind of stuff that swirled through my head watching Bond do his thing. Sometimes, it's hard to shake it.

      Mind if I borrow that stick?

  6. The motorcycle chase scene was better than the whole last Bourne move, in my opinion.

    I loved the flick, too, and was actually happy (if you can call it that) that M died at the hands of a secondary character. They telegraphed her death long before it happened, so I expected it and was hoping Silva wouldn't get the pleasure. In Bond movies, the henchmen never get to actually pull off any of their plans, so that one unnamed henchman -- he who didn't even have a nametag -- got the honor of killing M. Oh, and I liked that Bond didn't stop the assassination. He just waited to see who the guy was going to pop, like he was curious or entertained or something. Very Bond of the books (since I read them and didn't Google them).

    And, Brown, old bean, thanks for giving me this post to procrastinate when I should be working on my novel for NaNoWriMo. I hit the wall at 34,000 words and needed a break. And a Hot Fuzz reference in the middle! You exceeded my wildest procrastination expectations, sir. Good day to you. :-)

    1. Excellent AP reference. Bonus nerd points for that, no doubt. You do have to root for minions every now and then, and bagging M. certainly is a high point for all those who hench.

      Good luck with the novel. I'll post a link when your done. That should drum up at least 700 hits easily.

      My bad, I got those numbers backwards.

  7. Nice review!

    Haha about Wolf Blitzer....which could be a Bond Villain name....or he could be the secret mastermind in the next one.

  8. It is a pretty solid villain name, even though it sounds completely made up and stupid (for a real name, that is).