FEW recent films have been as flat-out pleasurable as Skyfall.
Skyfall: Sony, £22.99
Love Highfliers: £12.99
Genuinely the best Bond film in eons – and now the most successful too – it pulls off a superlative trick in paying tribute the character’s 50-year screen history while also satisfying as a modern-day action film, one that finally advances 007 into the 21st century with the kind of panache one should expect from a character whose chief appeal has always been his blend of sophistication and deadly violence. With none of the Bourne envy that blighted Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig even gets to have some fun in the role as Bond, who is pinballed from Turkey to China to London to Scotland in pursuit of Javier Bardem’s deliciously outré villain, Rauol Silva. Along the way director Sam Mendes sets the template anew for what a Bond film can do, easing us in with the traditional action overload of the pre-credit sequence, but kicking things up a gear with a stunning rooftop fight in which Bond is filmed battling an assassin in silhouette against Shanghai’s neon-lit night sky – a sequence that’s as gorgeous as it is exciting.
Balancing such beautifully orchestrated action with a strong story in which the relationship between 007 and Judi Dench’s M becomes the focal point, Mendes has also given Skyfall something the Bond films have consistently lacked: real heart.
• The title of this ambitious, low-budget sci-fi film is a good indication of the touchy-feely, pseudo-mystical tone it ultimately settles on. Revolving around an astronaut (Gunner Wright) stranded in space after an unexplained apocalyptic event back on Earth, it wears its 2001/Solaris influences prominently on its sleeve as a familiar-seeming story about man’s isolation and the need for human contact unfurls in elliptical, hallucinatory fashion. Working in collaboration with alternative US rock group Angels & Airwaves (fronted by Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge), the film’s director William Eubank clearly has a lot of talent. Building sets in his backyard, he’s managed to construct something with the professional sheen of a big Hollywood production. Alas, the story lets him down. The film’s mysteries – among them a Civil War-set prologue – aren’t dramatically enough structured to make the final act reveals particularly enthralling.
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