In my opinion, one soared, while the other left me a little deflated.
Daniel Craig was terrific as James Bond in “Skyfall,” Agent 007 hasn’t been this cool since Sean Connery originated the role back in the 1960s.
Add Adele’s title song by the same name and the movie was one of the sharpest Bond flicks in years. This long-awaited Bond chapter seemed to take forever to make, but Director Sam Mendes’ painstaking style yields a tense drama.
Having read most of author Ian Fleming’s original books, Craig exuded the perfect balance of gravitas and world-weariness that Fleming imbued in his character in the books. Plus, Skyfall is a tremendous script; right up there with the best of the Bond films, if not the best.
But, my God, does it ever take a long time getting started. Bond-enthusiasts will relish the painstakingly accurate historic details but things only start to get interesting half-way through the almost three hour flick.
Judi Dench is simply mesmerizing as agent M, She almost seems to be onscreen as much as Craig. Javier Bardem plays a menacing bad guy. He’s a former MI6 agent turned rogue who seems to have mommy issues with M.
The movie ends terrifically at “Skyfall,” the Scottish manor house from Fleming’s books, where the young Bond grew up. Albert Finney makes a late entrance as the caretaker. Odd for sure, but it all seems to work.
In contrast, I was disappointed with “The Dark Knight Rises,” even though Director Christopher Nolan is in a league all his own. His film, “Prestige” is one of my favorites, so I was really expecting something truly spectacular.
It was, and it wasn’t.
The spectacular airplane stunt at the front end of the movie, where the villain, Bane, escapes from prison custody, looked terrific in the trailers. But when I saw it in full in the film, it looked a little silly.
And, after the hubbub about Bane (and, some spectacular speeches), he’s quickly dispatched in the end by Catwoman, played by Anne Hathaway. The script is brilliant, but so wordy I had to keep re-winding some key scenes.
Christian Bale as the crime fighter is sensational. Yet to me, Michael Caine stole the movie as the Wayne Manor butler Alfred. He leaves midway through, which again was somewhat inexplicable.
I fear, in the end, that the movie suffered from failed expectations. They were so high, since it was Nolan’s final notch in his trilogy, that the final editing wasn’t as tight as it could have been. I’m glad I saw both, but I felt a little left in the dark by “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Both films are now out on DVD and Blu-ray. “Skyfall” hit shelves last month and “Dark Knight” was released last December. For my money, I’d go with “Skyfall.”