James Bond’s previous adventure (Quantum Of Solace) may have trousere
d half a billion dollars, but its reputation in the Bond canon is less than stellar, and audiences don’t forget such disappointments quickly. Skyfall’s mission, then, is clear: restore faith in 007. Like its enduring protagonist, the film cannot afford to fail.
To this end, director Sam Mendes has been recruited to put 007 back where he belongs – on top. The obvious way to achieve this is to return to the tropes associated with the best Bond films. It’s a method that’s worked repeatedly in the series’ history; whenever public opinion turns against him, Bond goes back to basics.
And so Skyfall launches with a terrific pre-title sequence, as Bond demolishes half a Turkish bazaar attempting to capture a minor bad guy before embarking on a stunning, stunt-packed scrap aboard a train. Adele’s Shirley Bassey-esque theme kicks in, and we’re into the film proper. The entire sequence feels designed to reassure a nervous audience that yes, the Bond you know and love is back.
In actual fact, he’s not. Not yet, anyway. Following the events of the pre-title sequence, Bond is a scruffy, stubbly shadow of his former self. And as the film’s true villain, Silva (Javier Bardem), reveals his plan to strike at the heart of MI6 – and at M (Judi Dench) herself – it’s doubtful that Bond is in any state to take him on. The rest of the film sees a deconstructed hero slowly reconstructed, but not without a price, and the result is a Bond film unlike any other.
It’s the blend of familiarity and freshness which ensures Skyfall‘s success. Mendes and the film’s writers understand that it’s not just returning to Bond’s roots that keeps him alive but it’s also the bravery to explore the character’s previously unseen emotional levels. The requisite Bond Girls (Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe) and action sequences are present, and even a new Q (Ben Whishaw) pops up to strengthen the link to the past, but they’re all secondary to the bold, emotional core of the film: Bond’s relationship with M.
With a leading cast at their best and a script that balances thrills and humour with believable characterisation, Mendes delivers a unique entry in the 50-year-old franchise. It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally safe to say that Bond is well and truly back.
Verdict: The Bond cocktail is given another good hard shake, and the result is not just a cracking entry in the franchise but also a fitting tribute to 007 in his 50th cinematic year. Cheers!
Hotel Transylvania is an animated comedy set in the world of vampires, monsters and general nasties. Dracula (Adam Sandler) is a doting dad, so intent on protecting his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from the attention of humans that he builds a vast resort for the use of non-humans only. But one big weekend when he has all sorts of V.I.M.s (Very Important Monsters) visiting, a human lad called Jonathan (Andy Samberg) somehow infiltrates security and falls in love with Mavis. Can he convince Drac he’s a suitable boyfriend for Mavis, or will Hotel Transylvania prove to be his final resting place?
Paranormal Activity 4
Paranormal Activity 4 picks up where the chaos of Paranormal Activity 2 left off. Katie (Katie Featherstone) was last seen amid the mayhem of 2006 when she killed her boyfriend, sister and brother-in-law and ran off with their baby. Five years later, she’s back, with the boy, living next door to a regular family who are trying to understand who the weird neighbours are and why strange things like motion sensors and alarm systems have started being activated. With much of the action picked up by webcam, Paranormal Activity 4 is set to freak out a whole new generation of movie-goers.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted takes the New York zoo animals on an adventure through Europe, deep undercover. Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) have pitched up in Europe as they try to get back to their native New York. With the authorities hot on their tails, they have no option but to join a circus. The only hitch is with this being a circus, they have to come up with an act! Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is the nuttiest installment of this highly successful series so far.
These films are showing at Dagenham Vue –
Dagenham Leisure Park, Cook Road, Dagenham, Essex RM9 6UQ, tel. 0871-224 0240.