Matt Buchanan ’13
Does the world still need James Bond? This is the central question in the newest film based off of Ian Fleming’s secret agent. Skyfall answers this question by reminding the audience why Bond is such a beloved hero while also showing how previous Bond concepts have become outdated. Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film Dr. No, Skyfall is the third Bond film to feature Daniel Craig. As with his other two Bond films, Casino Royal and Quantum of Solace, Craig presents an ever-evolving Bond whose toughness grows in proportion to the bleak and changed world around him. The story line for Skyfall is so easy to spoil that the most I can say is this: after an absence, Bond returns to help M (Judi Dench) who is being attacked by Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). The film brings back many Bond elements such as Q (Ben Whishaw), Mallory (Ralph Fienes) and the Aston Martin DB5 (as itself). The jewel to this crowning accomplishment in film is Mr. Bardem’s portrayal of the villain, Silva. Silva is a highly intelligent yet purely evil, character bent on revenge. Bardem has shown his ability to shape the idea of evil before in No Country for Old Men, for which he received the Academy award. He has developed a character that could easily win the prize for best Bond villain ever. With its wonderful in-depth story, balance between realism and the license allowed to a Bond film and great actors portraying Bond and the villain, Skyfall is a perfect use of the franchise. It ties for the best Bond film with Connery’s classic From Russia With Love.
Wreck-it Ralph is a video game movie that centers on the main character Ralph (John C. Reilly), who is the villain in the fictional thirty-year-old arcade cabinet game, “Fix-It Felix.” Ralph decides he wants the respect of a hero and decides to remove himself from his game and go to Hero’s Duty, a modern, first-person, arcade shooter. It is up to Felix (Jack McBrayer) to search for Ralph, who has gone into the candy themed racing game “Sugar Rush” and met the glitch Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), to get Ralph back into his own game. The movie’s best quality is that it is free from the limitations of a single franchise and therefore doesn’t feel like it needs to pay homage to the original material as previous video game films have (I’m looking at you Super Mario Bros). The film feels like it is made to be kid-friendly yet is geared more toward its older audience with references that span over forty years of video games. That being said, the jokes are amazing and the more serious parts of the film are deeply emotional. This is where the polish of the film really shines as the audience is either laughing or crying. Wreck-it Ralph is what makes Disney films worth going back to and is a definite candidate for Best Animated Film.
Casa de Mi Padre
Will Ferrell strikes out in this experimental Spanish-speaking comedy. Ferrell has been trying his hand at films outside of the Hollywood hit comedies, such as Talladega Nights and Anchorman, that have brought him to fame in his post-SNL career. His best role in this sense has been the morose comedy-drama Everything Must Go. Ferrell fails to recapture this feeling in Casa de mi padre. In concept, Casa de mi padre sounds like a wonderful film as the world of 1950s Mexican westerns are brought into the context of modern Mexican drug cartels. Simple-minded Armando Álvarez (Ferrell) must fend off the drug cartel from taking over his father’s (Pedro Armendáriz, Jr.) ranch. The drug lord (Gael García Bernal) is attacking the ranch because Armando’s brother (Diego Luna), also a drug dealer, has taken the drug lord’s woman (Génesis Rodríguez). This leads to what could actually be called a true understanding of Mexican film as it notes the ridiculous old motifs of Mexican films, such as long laughing scenes, woman made sexy for the sake of being sexy and romanticized flashbacks. The problem comes though as there is simply not enough material to fill a feature film. The story is lacking, characters are one-dimensional representations of Mexican film and the jokes on American-Mexico relations are more controversial than insightful. The material that truly catches the essence of the film as well as the attention of the audience is better suited for a short film. Casa de mi padre is worth a watch for its aesthetic value.