Skyfall (2012)

16726615_024fadf33c0c0ff8bc605bf1f1a9963e_xlStarring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, Bill Buckhurst

Directed by Sam Mendes

Expectations: Very High. I love Bond.

threehalfstar


Skyfall might not be perfect, but it does so much right. Its opening action sequence is the perfect example of how a modern Bond film can echo the over-the-top camp of classic Connery-era Bond and still retain a modern feel. They wisely keep the action believable enough to be believable, while also concentrating on making it awesome enough to be awesome. It’s a perfect marriage and Skyfall is a Bond fan’s dream come true. This opening, which also leads into what is probably the best modern Bond credits sequence, is worth the price of admission alone.

Skyfall does a lot of interesting things as it plays with Bond and his cohorts, the most impressive of these is basing the story around the series’ supporting characters who were always regularly pushed aside after their requisite scene telling Bond what he’ll be doing next. This continues the grounding of the character started in Casino Royale, taking the series to the next level before then taking us a level deeper into Bond’s psyche (and his past). Skyfall goes places you would never expect in a Bond film, while also delivering action and situations that would feel at home in any of the Bond eras. The screenwriters must be absolute Bond nerds, and we are all reaping the benefits.

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Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams (2002)

Starring Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Steve Buscemi, Mike Judge, Matt O’Leary, Emily Osment, Ricardo Montalban, Holland Taylor, Taylor Momsen

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Expectations: Moderate. I expect to have fun. No more, no less.


I don’t review a lot of kids movies here at Silver Emulsion and that’s because most of them aren’t very good. OK, OK, the same could be said of many horror films, but the truth is: I’m not a kid, nor do I have kids, so I just don’t see a lot of them. They also don’t really appeal to me either, which is probably a good thing as I’m now in my thirties and it gets a little creepy to be saying “One for Agent Cody Banks, please” once you’re old enough to drive yourself around. There are always exceptions to the rule though, and Robert Rodriguez’s films for children always seem to fit into that category for me. As I mentioned in my lengthy and ridiculously wordy review of the original Spy Kids, it was a viewing of his Shorts that led me to revisit his kid-friendly work, and I’m glad that I did. I enjoyed the first film quite a bit, and I think the second one is even better.

Story isn’t really the strongpoint of this film, but here’s the gist: Our spy kid heroes are no longer the only game in town, as seemingly every agent this side of a Madagascar alleyway has inducted their own children into the program. Juni and Carmen’s main rivals are Gary and Gerti Giggles, spawn of Dr. Giggles Donnagon Giggles, the new head of the OSS. Anyway, the president’s daughter starts the ball rolling by stealing a device known as the Transmooker, and, of course, every one wants it. This leads our heroes and their devious enemies down a wonderful thrill ride of a spy picture, complete with more insane gadgets than you could ever hope to see in the entire James Bond series.

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Black Eagle (1988)

Starring Sho Kosugi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Doran Clark, Bruce French, Vladimir Skomarovsky, William Bassett, Kane Kosugi, Shane Kosugi, Dorota Puzio, Jan Tríska, Gene Davis, Alfred Mallia

Directed by Eric Karson

Expectations: Sho Kosugi. JCVD. I heard it’s bad, but I gotta see it!

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Hot off the heels of the amazing Bloodsport, Jean-Claude Van Damme landed the main villain role in this Sho Kosugi vehicle, and regardless of whatever flaws the film has, it definitely delivers on the schoolyard playground promise of “Sho vs. JCVD!” They face off a few times throughout the film, with two major battles occurring during the closing half hour. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but Black Eagle is the type of movie that doesn’t lend itself much to beating around the bush.

Basically a low-budget version of the James Bond film Thunderball (but with better underwater sequences… fuck Thunderball‘s torturous underwater filmmaking), Black Eagle sees Sho Kosugi as the title character: a covert CIA operative capable of fucking up any evildoers holiday plans. An experimental plane went down off the coast of Malta and even though it’s Sho’s scheduled family vacation time, they force him to do the job. How does the U.S. government do that exactly? By picking up his kids and flying them directly into harm’s way in Malta, and then using their presence there to force him into a position where he has no choice but to agree, that’s how! Stand up guys those CIA suits. Of course, he’s not the only one looking for the plane, and this is where JCVD and all the requisite Russian baddies come from. It’s the Cold War as told through a mediocre James Bond rip-off starring two of the screen’s favorite Western martial arts stars.

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