Commentary

January 31, 2014

Fly Over: ‘Skyfall’, and ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Skyfall

‘Skyfall’

Ever since I was a child I remember watching the James Bond movie series with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. I was surprised in 2006 when “Casino Royale” came out staring a new male lead named Daniel Craig.
I would say Craig is what the series needed because he’s not only a fresh new face but he also looks the part with his muscular physique and quiet charm.
Knowing “Skyfall” was the most watched and highest grossing James Bond film, I had to watch it.
The movie begins with James Bond (Craig) and Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) chasing Patrice (Ola Rapace), a mercenary who has a stolen computer hard drive with names of undercover agents placed in terrorist organizations.
In this exciting first scene both Bond and Patrice are riding dirt bikes atop buildings and making seemingly impossible jumps and landings. After getting cut off by Moneypenny, Patrice ditches his bike and jumps on a train ride where Bond follows. Seeing Patrice on the roof of the train, Bond joins and continues going after Patrice. While all this is occurring Moneypenny follows in a SUV and is ordered by M (Judi Dench), the head of MI6, to shoot Patrice while she still has visual. Moneypenny struggles to make the shot since Bond and Patrice are fighting each other but does it anyway since she has to follow orders. Unfortunately, Moneypenny shoots Bond who falls into the river while Patrice escapes. Though presumed dead, Bond is still alive and uses his death as a way out of the service. It isn’t until the Intelligence and Security Committee is attacked that Bond voluntarily returns to London and his former place of service.
Once accepted back into duty, Bond is given an assignment to recover the stolen hard drive from Patrice as well as kill him. Patrice’s location is identified and Bond is sent to Shanghai to complete his assignment, but before Bond can get information from Patrice, Patrice falls from a skyscraper to his death. Thereafter, Bond searches through Patrice’s things and finds a clue which leads him to a casino in Macau.
There Bond meets a woman named Severine (Bérénice Marlohe), who warns Bond that he is about to be attacked by her bodyguards. Before the attack, Severine makes a deal with Bond that if he kills her employer, she will help him find whoever he’s looking for. Once Bond defeats her bodyguards, they make a getaway on a boat and go to a deserted island where they are taken prisoner by Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva, a former MI6 agent like Bond, has turned against his own and now lives every day seeking to get revenge for being abandoned by M years earlier. Though Severine is killed by Silva, Bond defeats the guards and captures Silva. What Bond doesn’t know is Silva planned to be captured and makes his escape in the most creative way.
In “Skyfall” there is never a dull moment. Just when you think you have it figured out something unexpected occurs. I’m never disappointed by Craig who truly embodies what James Bond is all about. Also, Dench does a great job playing M, a character that is tough as nails but, although she seldom shows it, also has a soft spot in her heart for the people working under her. Additionally, we can’t forget a good villain like Silva, a clever computer whiz with a power trip who steals a drive holding all the identities of the MI6 agents.
Of course, what makes Bond movies special are the fitted suits, fancy cars such as the Ashton Martin DB5, and a life that is not only full of action but elegance, which the movie contains. I would highly recommend this movie to action movie lovers and Bond fans.
“Skyfall” is rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences, some sexuality, language and smoking.

 
Wizard-of-Oz-movie-poster

‘The Wizard of Oz’

I have probably seen “The Wizard of Oz” at least 40 times throughout my life, most of those times when I was 10 or younger. Just a few nights ago my wife decided to pull it off the shelf (apparently we’ve had the DVD for some time) for a family movie night. I was unsure of the idea, since my children are 5, 3 and 1, but my wife tends to be the authority on the welfare of my kids, so we popped some corn and began the movie.
The movie began, as most probably recall, in black and white. My kids were a little confused and asked if the TV was broken. It took a minute to explain that it was intended to be filmed that way.
My primary concern was how my children would react to the Wicked Witch of the West and those crazy flying monkeys. I know they scared me when I was a kid. To my surprise, though, they were most concerned when the lady on the bike (Miss Gulch) took Toto from Dorothy in the very beginning of the movie. Maybe because graphics and movie effects have come so far since the movie was made, but throughout the whole movie my 5-year-old daughter was explaining to me that “the witch is just a nice lady playing dress up and pretending to be mean.” Apparently, momma prepped her for the movie.
There were a few instances in the movie that I heard lines I didn’t recall hearing in the first 40 viewings of the movie. My adult ears heard what my kid ears had not.
For example, when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow and learns he has no brain she asks him how he can talk without a brain. His reply was, “Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don’t they.” That resonated with me.
There was a lot of other humor that was over my head as a child, but I thoroughly enjoyed now.
One of the questions I had going into the evening was whether I would actually get to sit down and enjoy the family movie night or if I would be trying to keep one or more of my kids happy so the others could enjoy the movie. If you have children, you can probably relate.
To my surprise, every one of my kids gave their full attention to “The Wizard of Oz,” even my 1-year-old, for the entire movie.
There seems to be a recipe for keeping kid’s attention, and it can be seen in the new television shows geared for them: “Sophia the First,” “Yo Gabba Gabba” and so on. The formula is a crazy imaginative group of people or friends and good music.
While I wasn’t watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a children’s movie, it held their attention because it had colorful characters, amazing music and kept a generally upbeat tone throughout the movie.
All in all, “The Wizard of Oz” and a bowl of popcorn made for a successful night of cuddling with the kiddos, and that is why I highly recommend this movie to any moms or dads out there considering a family movie night. It’s good for single people too, especially those who haven’t seen it since childhood or maybe never.
“The Wizard of Oz” is rated PG for some scary scenes.
 
GOOF: When Dorothy uses the knocker on the door to the Emerald City, four knocks are heard although she only hits the door three times. The first is heard as she is drawing the knocker back.
GOOF: Dorothy smiles and tries not to laugh after she smacks the lion and he asks “Is my nose bleeding?”




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