Friday, August 3, 2012

Skyfall (2012)

The official U.S. trailer for the third installment in the Daniel Craig era of James Bond films has finally been released. The social media sites are buzzing with anticipation for Skyfall and this trailer will only build that anticipation. The trailer is action-packed, and is well edited. The classic James Bond soundtracks give this trailer a connection to previous Bond movies.

The connection to a beloved film franchise is an incredible tool in the hands of the filmmakers. It allows them to more quickly draw the audience into the film, as the audience is familiar with the character to some extent. For example, in this trailer beginning at 2:14 there is a quick scene which is sure to delight all Bond fans as it draws on the unflappable nature of the suave secret agent. The familiar music forcefully and the iconic images of James Bond in this trailer combine to build a sense of awe that would not be so forceful for any other film. This is a great marketing strategy executed brilliantly.

But this trailer does not rely simply on its predecessors, but is brilliant in its own right. The synchronization of the soundtrack with the action is done better than any other blockbuster film trailer I have watched. Every nuance of the music corresponds to some action in the picture. My favorite example is during the reveal of Javier Bardem's character at 1:31. As the doors slide open to reveal the villain, there is a subtle deep slide noise in the soundtrack that is perfectly in sync with the opening of the doors. Such an effect is so subtle it is overlooked by the casual viewer, but is important even at a subconscious level. That one little sound is one of portending evil, serving to establish Bardem's character as the embodiment of fear. As a side note, I think it is great that the music helped make Bardem's character seem evil because I thought he looked ridiculous with blond hair. But I am sure he did a great job.

There is one last aspect of the trailer that really stood out to me: The several beautiful pictures interspersed throughout the trailer. The actual photography of a film is obviously very important, and the film crew were on top of their game for some of the shots in this trailer. I think a great test of the photography of a film is when you can pause the picture ad really appreciate the frame as a work of art in itself. The greater number of frames in a film that fall into this category is essential in determining the quality of that film. Five pictures really stood out to me:
1. Pause at 0:18. The scenery is beautiful, with the large, light-colored train bridge contrasting with the green vegetation and blue distant mountains. In context of the trailer, it is a shocking scene as it presents a moment for the audience to quietly process what they have just witnessed (Bond ostensibly being shot).
2. Pause at 0:25. This shot is both an iconic shot and a beautiful photograph. It sets up the character of M well and hints at the darkness ahead. Rain falls on the sleeping city behind her as she works on her computer. The dim lighting leaves some of her face obscured in shadow. The quaint objects on her desk (a dog statue, desk telephone, and pencil holder) contrast with the bottle and tumbler of whiskey.
3. Pause at 1:20. A beautifully lit Oriental-themed city with floating lanterns and bright colors! Oh yeah, and fireworks!
4. Pause at 1:28. A dark silhouette staggers directly towards the viewer, holding a gun in his right hand. His dark body contrasts violently with the orange and yellow glow a distant mayhem. The faint outline of a house is visible in this fire. Jagged, limbless trees add to the horror of this picture. This picture brings vibes of Javier Bardem's Oscar-winning performance in No Country for Old Men.
5. Pause at 2:13. Bright neon colors illuminate the outlines of seemingly endless structures. Bright lights from below silhouette the falling man.
There are many, many more amazing pictures throughout this trailer, and you will have to watch it and find them for yourself.

Was there anything I disliked about this trailer? Only a bit of the dialogue, but not enough to detract from the overall trailer. Ben Wishaw's voice as Q really annoyed me every time I watched through the trailer for this review. He has the peculiar quality of smacking his lips in an odd way every time he forms a word which is the verbal equivalent of a cat scratching on a blackboard. And secondly, I know James Bond is known for his somewhat cheesy quips, but I really didn't like the exchange between Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem towards the end of the trailer. "What is your hobby?" "Resurrection." This dialogue was a big let down after it was so masterfully set up by the picture and soundtrack.

Final Verdict: Trailer 10/10, great trailer with some impressive technical aspects. If the same attention to detail is present in the finished film, the film could possibly rate out at a 9/10. But I expect there will be some decline in quality from this trailer to the finished product, and combined with possibly stereotyped characters (even though these might be saved by good acting), I think that a 8/10 is a more probable reality, which is still a great score for a James Bond film. I think the anticipation for this film is well deserved, and Skyfall is a must watch in theaters.

Watch the trailer here

IMDb Page for Skyfall

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