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James Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
For more about Skyfall and the Skyfall Blu-ray release, see Skyfall Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on February 7, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris
Director: Sam Mendes
» See full cast & crew
Skyfall Blu-ray Review
The Sky Isn't Falling, Mr. Bond
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, February 7, 2013
For a while, it looked like Skyfall might not happen, as MGM's financial woes caused the film to be tabled, and some of the major players moved on to other projects. But no one has ever been able to keep James Bond down for long. Besides, resurrection and rebirth are among Skyfall's major themes. Thus it was that production resumed in January 2011 for a fall 2012 release. Pent-up demand may have accounted for some of the huge box office success, but there was another, more basic reason. The movie was good. Without reopening the debate over 2008's Quantum of Solace (which I happen to like very much), that film always felt less like a standalone Bond and more like a coda to 2006's sit-up-and-take-notice Casino Royale, which both introduced a new Bond and successfully rebooted the franchise for the 21st Century. Not only did Quantum pick up the story immediately after the closing moments of Casino Royale, but, at a trim 106 minutes, it was notably shorter than either Casino Royale or any of the four preceding Bonds starring Pierce Brosnan. Even fans of Quantum were eager to see a Bond film that spread its wings and soared the way Casino Royale had. Skyfall delivered, and then some. Not only did it appear to kill off Bond in the spectacular pre-credit opening sequence—a maneuver that fooled no one, but that did have the bracing effect of reversing the usual formula, in which Bond typically succeeds in his pre-credit mission—but it also put Bond in the unaccustomed position of having to win back his MI6 spurs. And Skyfall gave us the single best Bond villain we've seen since . . . well, whoever happens to be your favorite Bond villain, in the person of Silva, the cyber-terrorist (among other things), gracefully incarnated by Javier Bardem, that specialist of evil, who has repeatedly said in interviews that as a boy he always identified with the villains in Bond films. It shows.
The MacGuffin that starts Skyfall rolling is a hard drive containing an encrypted list of all covert agents embedded with terrorist organizations. Someone has stolen it, and Bond (Daniel Craig, on his third outing) is leading a team in Istanbul to recover it. His chief support is a new field agent named Eve (Naomie Harris), who, on direct orders from M (Judi Dench), risks a shot at the operative who stole the list, a sleek assassin known as Patrice (Ola Rapace), and hits Bond instead. Bond plunges into a raging river and is presumed dead. Patrice escapes with the list. Cue an inspired credit sequence by Daniel Kleinman, whose idea was to imagine Bond's life flashing before his eyes, accompanied by the sound of Adele singing her Oscar
Skyfall Blu-ray, Video Quality
Although I didn't keep count, I am sure that, of the many names behind the camera mentioned by director Sam Mendes in his commentary, none occurs more often than that of cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose spectacular digital photography on Skyfall allowed the film to be reframed for IMAX showing without being subjected to the IMAX DMR up-conversion process. While a debate has raged on internet forums over the preferred presentation of the film for home consumption, it is presented on Fox/MGM's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray at its standard 35mm ratio of 2.40:1. Perhaps an IMAX-formated version will follow as a bonus in one of the later, inevitable Blu-ray reissues. Skyfall's image on Blu-ray is spectacular: clear, sharp, detailed and noiseless, with just a flicker of aliasing during the establishing shots of Shanghai (blink, and you may miss it). Deakins is a notorious perfectionist, and he was also one of the first cinematographers to switch to digital intermediates (with the Coen Bros.' O Brother, Where Art Thou?). If he can't get the lighting and color densities just so on the day, he gets what he wants on the DI. Skyfall is a symphony of different tones and palettes, from the chilly blues and milky whites of London to the emotional browns, greens, reds and (eventually) oranges of the Scottish sequences to the exotic primaries and fluorescents of Shanghai and Macau. And let's not forget the broken-down wreck of an island where Silva keeps his headquarters. Deakins' lighting of the rubble there recalls what he did with the snow in Fargo. A great cinematographer can make anything look interesting. It's only to be expected that Fox/MGM would do a first-rate job on one of the jewels in the corporate crown. The fact that Skyfall was originated digitally no doubt eased the transition to Blu-ray. Overcompression would have been the only risk, given the film's running time, but fortunately no artifacts are visible.
Skyfall Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Skyfall's DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is more than equal to the obligatory big moments of a Bond film: the explosions, car chases and shootouts, not to mention the opening train chase involving a crane and various VW Beetles and a scene in the London Tube that recalls Die Hard 3. The sonic intensity of these sequences should satisfy any home theater action junkie, with their crisply defined surround effects, immersive surround field and deep bass extension. But Skyfall's sound mixers have also achieved marvelous effects in quieter moments, including the near-silence that follows Eve's fateful shot in the opening sequence, which has the odd impact of seeming almost as loud as the din that preceded it. In his commentary, Mendes notes some of his favorite subtler moments: the way the rain outside M's office windows fades into the rush of the waterfall over which Bond descends after he falls from the train, then into Adele's title song, or a peculiar set of sounds (which Mendes says still give him the creeps) when Silva reveals to M and Bond a physical "peculiarity" (those who have seen the film will know what I'm referring to). One could simply listen to Skyfall with the picture switched off, and the experience would still be thrilling. The environments are always well-defined, the action always fully expressed, and yet somehow Mendes and his sound team never lose track of the essential drama in which Bond, M, Silva and the rest are caught up. Their dialogue gets the same respectful treatment as the sound effects. So does the score by composer Thomas Newman, entering the Bond franchise for the first time at Mendes' specific request and proving surprisingly adept as an action film composer. Radically altering his style from such previous Mendes creations as American Beauty or Road to Perdition, Newman has adapted well to the needs of Bond, while retaining a distinctive voice. His music is one of the many elements that makes Bond at 50 feel forever young.
Skyfall Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Skyfall Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The year is young, but Skyfall is already shaping up to be one of 2013's biggest sellers on Blu-ray. It hardly needs my recommendation, but I'll give it anyway. Whether you're filling that empty space in your Bond 50 set or just want to see Skyfall again in a first-rate presentation, this Blu-ray edition from Fox/MGM is a worthwhile addition to your library. Just be aware that, as with all things Bond, there will be future editions. (Yes, plural.) But buy this one now, and you can always wait to see what extras the others have to offer. It's hard to imagine that the audio/video presentation can get much better. Highly recommended.
Skyfall: Other Editions
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Skyfall Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, February 18-24: Skyfall and Argo Take Top Spots - February 27, 2013
For the week that ended on February 24th, MGM and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's release of Skyfall again topped the Blu-ray media rankings. The film, which grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide when it premiered theatrically last November, continued ...
• Blu-ray Sales, February 11-17: Skyfall Ascends to Number One - February 21, 2013
For the week that ended on February 17th, MGM and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment's release of Skyfall dominated both the Blu-ray and overall package media charts. The film scored similarly well in theaters last November; to date, the estimated $200 million ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: February 12-19 - February 9, 2013
For the week of February 12th, Metro Goldwyn Mayer is bringing Skyfall to Blu-ray. The latest installment in the venerable James Bond franchise netted the studio a pretty penny - over $1 billion worldwide and counting - and to be sure, the movie offers Bond fans ...
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