This week on the Geek Beat, it seems like the news of a new Star Wars film is still managing to rule cyberspace, with anticipation growing as each day passes. With conflicting reports saying that the new film is actually in preproduction, the speculation machine doesn’t seem likely to dissipate until fans learn more details about the creative team and the story.
While Star Wars should be talked about a little bit this week, we’re now in the fallout of another triumphant return to theaters after the North American release of Daniel Craig’s third outing as British superspy James Bond in director Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. But first, as usual, let’s take a look at some of the hottest geek articles to hit Movies.com this last week!
1) Dialogue: 'Amazing Spider-Man' Director Marc Webb on DVD Deleted Scenes and What to Expect from the Sequel
2) 'Star Wars: Episode VII' Will Be Written by the Guy Who Gave Us 'Toy Story 3'
3) Watch Rare Home-Movie Footage of Boris Karloff's Frankenstein in Color
That last one is really a revelation, especially to classic Universal horror fans out there. But first thing’s first: after a longer-than-typical wait for the next installment in one of the most prolific film series in cinematic history, the question has to be asked.
So, What Did You Think of Skyfall?
After an interesting series of events involving some serious financial troubles at MGM and fans being forced to get their Bond fix through video games, director Sam Mendes has finally returned the ruthless MI6 agent to worldwide theaters. While I think it’s pretty safe to say that both hard-core and casual Bond fans were more than happy for the character’s return, I think a lot of people were pretty surprised that the newest entry in the Bond film series has been so nearly universally praised.
As of right now, Skyfall stands at an impressive 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a consensus seeming to be a lot of surprise and satisfaction with just how personal the film got with the James Bond character himself. One of the things that I really appreciated about Skyfall was the fact that we were able to learn so much about Bond’s early life, as well as his underlying feelings and demeanor toward his line of work. I tried to shelter myself a lot from details of the story, which I was largely successful with, so the revelation about the meaning of the title was extraordinarily satisfying for me.
Not since at least License to Kill have we gotten such a strong and focused look at the man in comparison to the mission, and I found that Craig’s portrayal showing a lot of resentment toward his job felt familiar to Timothy Dalton’s similar conception of that feeling in both of that actor’s films. Not enough praise can be leveled at Javier Bardem’s character Raoul Silva, who reminded me in an odd way of a cross between Francisco Scaramanga from Man with the Golden Gun and ultimate Bond baddie Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Still, though, even this comparison hardly does justice to the level of specificity and precision that Bardem has applied to the creation of this villain. I’m not the only one who saw fit to make conceptual comparison to Heath Ledger’s definitive portrayal of the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight, which in my mind is only a compliment to Mr. Bardem’s work here.
That’s not where the similarities with Christopher Nolan’s Batman film ended, though. Like the thematic aim of the entire Dark Knight Trilogy, a fair amount of deconstruction and internal exploration went into the characterization of Bond himself and his relationship with M (with Dame Judi Dench turning in another fantastic performance), as well as his place within MI6. Skyfall, for my money, is easily the best Bond film of Craig’s tenure, and perhaps even the best at least since Roger Moore’s first reprisal of the character in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Let me know what you thought of the film in the comments below. Am I way off in giving praise like this, or do you feel similarly to me? Let me know, I’d love to know what you guys feel about it.
What Do You Make of the Writer for Star Wars: Episode VII?
With news breaking that screenwriter Michael Arndt will be taking on the scripting responsibilities for Star Wars: Episode VII, I’m sure there are a lot of fans that have feelings about what this will mean for the direction of the film. Without knowing where the story will go or specifically what characters will be involved in the next trip to that faraway galaxy, from my perspective the hiring of Arndt can only be positive. Many people are rightfully touting his Academy Award win for 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, as well as his work on 2010’s Toy Story 3.
Specifically about Toy Story, I think that scenario can be accurately applied to his gig on Star Wars since there were a few questions going into the creative direction of a second sequel to an old and beloved franchise. What we ended up getting was largely perceived as the best written film of the series, one that connected with many people on a very visceral level.
For my own experience watching that film, I was very, very surprised at the emotions that the story were able to bring out in me (only compounded by my girlfriend bursting into tears at the very moment Andy has to decide whether or not to keep his most beloved toy, or pass it on to another child and a new home).
While the rumors suggest that George Lucas has given some in-depth outlines to where Episode VII will go, Arndt’s legwork in hashing out the story gives me hope that the sandbox and toys that Mr. Lucas built will be taken into new, emotional and creative directions under Mr. Arndt’s guiding hand.
What do you think about Michael Arndt’s involvement in writing the new Star Wars film? Is it a positive? Are you worried? Sound off in the comments below.
Geek Movies Out This Week
Not any major geek releases hitting theaters this weekend (although I’m sure history geeks might want to include Lincoln in their lists as it goes to wide release on Friday). But, one of the big blockbusters of the summer has hit DVD and Blu-ray recently, and although it was technically a release from last week, since it was on an odd day (Friday instead of the regular Tuesday) I feel it’s worth mentioning.
The Amazing Spider-Man has finally hit Blu-ray and DVD, and with it comes a whole host of special features including a hefty amount of deleted scenes. While Spidey didn’t prove to be as big of a critical and commercial hit as its Marvel counterpart in The Avengers, it still had a staggering amount of box office success and a decidedly warmer critical reception than that of 2007’s Spider-Man 3.
I shared much of my opinion of the film with Movies.com’s very own John Gholson in his Countdown review, but there were still a few more problems that I had with it that weren’t shared by much of the viewing public (the crane still bugs me). Either way, this is still a film I’d be happy to pick up since I definitely feel it’s a step in the right direction for both Spider-Man and Peter Parker, as Andrew Garfield stepped into the role of the Webhead with a lot more ease than I would’ve expected. And that’s saying nothing of the fantastic casting of Emma Stone as Peter’s true love, Gwen Stacy.
The release of the Spidey reboot should keep comic book fans and more casual ones satisfied until early next month, when the final major superhero film of 2012 gets its release on home media: The Dark Knight Rises.
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop
Speaking of the Dark Knight, this week in comic shops comes part two of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Death of the Family story arriving in Batman #14. With the Joker returning to Gotham City in grand horrifying fashion, the life of a major character looked to be in serious jeopardy in the closing panels of issue #13. The next issue promises new revelations about the Joker’s ultimate plan and how Batman and his allies will have to deal with the Harlequin of Hate, who looks to have completely reinvented himself all over again.
Fellow Modern Myth Media Gentleman and Batman-on-Film contributor John Bierly’s words in his review of Batman #13 verbalized where the story needs to succeed in comparison with the title’s opening arc when he says, “…while the Court of Owls made Bruce Wayne take a second look at his city, the Joker wants him to have a long, hard talk with his soul. That's going to be the key to this story's success, and Snyder's full of surprises that have yet to disappoint.” As usual, I couldn’t agree more.
Again, the Geek Beat’s over this week, but hopefully the conversation is just beginning. Be sure to sound off on this week’s topics in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to leave any other questions, comments, concerns or suggestions about what you want to see from this piece. I read every comment that comes across the page, so please don’t hesitate to share your ideas.
Be back here in seven days for the next installment of the Geek Beat!
Chris Clow is a recent Western Washington University graduate, film history fan, and comic book expert and retailer, contributor and overall geek to Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his comic book reviews for various monthly titles and his participated podcasts at BOF and MMM. You can find his regular piece The Geek Beat here at Movies.com every Tuesday. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.