Face-Off: Skyfall vs. Casino Royale

Hello, fellow cinematic thrill-seekers! Last week sure had some fun watching the two CAPTAIN AMERICA movies beat the hell out of each other, didn't we? Now with new talks of Danny Boyle potentially taking on the new Bond movie, this has inspired me to take a look back at two adventures in the James Bond canon, and perhaps two of the best ever: SKYFALL and CASINO ROYALE.

Both movies star the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, and represent massive shifts in the typical Bond style. The silly gadgets are gone and over-the-top villains stuffed into a crate, and in their place are two very grounded, emotional, yet still exciting Bond movies that put the character in a whole new light.

Which tale of the gentleman spy looks best in a tux? Take a look below to find out!

Daniel Craig as James Bond
Judi Dench as M
Naomie Harris as Eve
Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva
Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory
Berenice Marlohe as Severine
Ben Whishaw as Q
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Judi Dench as M
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Giancarlo Giannini as Rene Mathis
Sam Mendes had a mission to dig deep into the characters of this Bond world in hopes of mining some impactful, emotional moments, and that he succeeded is one of the movie's greatest accomplishments. He utilized the talented band of actors at his disposal to get out rich character dynamics and terrific performances, especially from Dench and Bardem. On top of that, he delivered impeccable action sequences and worked with DP Roger Deakins to establish a visual palate that is completely jaw-dropping.
With his work on GOLDENEYE years ago, Martin Campbell brought James Bond back into the mainstream after some less-popular ventures in the 80s, delivering a (then) gritty but fun Bond outing. In CASINO ROYALE he did the same thing, but with much more interesting and exhilarating results. Here he crafted a more grounded, intense tone that utilized old-school effects and tense encounters over off-the-wall thrills that made latter Pierce Brosnan efforts a bit silly. Still, he gave Bond fans more than enough to deliver on what they'd come to expect, properly showcasing the girls, cars and stunning locales.

A mission in Madagascar goes terribly wrong when Bond is accidentally shot on the orders of MI6 head M, sending him tumbling down and presumed dead. After MI6 is attacked by a rogue former agent, Bond suits back up for duty. But what role does Bond have to play in a world where classic espionage no longer has a place among the tech? As well, the new foe represents a mirror image of Bond, one who felt betrayed by M and used the anger to fuel his revenge. Can Bond confront his past and find his place in this world? Stay tuned to find out!

Bond vets Neal Purvis and Robert Wade teamed with John Logan (THE AVIATOR, HUGO) to write the script, and it's one that really cuts to the core of Bond in an emotional, gripping way. More characters are at play in more engaging ways, and it was a bold move depicting Bond as a somewhat broken man, removed his confident poise. And, even after all these years and so many villains, they managed to craft the series' most complex and dangerously unhinged one yet.

James Bond, a young, bold new attention to the MI6 team has just earned his 007 status and is making waves for his brashness and impatience for the rules. The hotshot is sent to investigate a baddie known as La Chiffre, getting himself into a very high stakes poker game in an attempt to thwart Chiffre's plans. But this scenario may prove too much for Bond, and he has to learn what it means to be compromised both in the field and emotionally.

Purvis and Wade brought their talents here as well, along with Oscar-winner Paul Haggis. This Bond is much more authentic to the books, with the team writing him as a more edgy, dark spy with a haunted past. This Bond is much more fascinating but is still given all the bells and whistles that made the character so iconic in the first place, including the quips and cool responses to any comment. Being so young and put into a scenario he couldn't shoot his way out of (casino bits) and making him confront the death of a loved one places the character in a more challenging position than past movies, creating drama not seen in past Bond movies.

Craig's turn as Bond in SKYFALL is a much more humanizing portrayal than in past Bond movies. He's still devilishly charming as all hell, but he's defeated and conflicted. His drinking and danger-seeking are not just the thrilling acts of a gentleman spy, but the indulgences of a man who is still trying to figure out what he's fighting for and fighting his own inner battles. What is his place in all this espionage business? Is he simply cattle for M as she tries to achieve a higher goal, or is he more? Craig does a terrific job here as this more vulnerable Bond and proof he was the right choice for the job all those years ago.
There have been many Bonds before Craig was cast, but we have never seen one quite like him. Possessing all the charm we come to expect from Bond, he adds to his character a compelling arrogance and ego that puts his behavior under a whole new microscope. He's not just suave and talented this time around; he's also dangerous. A young spy with nothing to lose and a taste for the finer things? Of course, he's going to act impulsively, and maybe even recklessly. But that's what Craig's amazing turn as Bond had given the character: dimension.

Bond in the Shadows

Chase Through the Market

Motorcycles Across the Rooftops

Crane Skills

Train Fight!

Bond Down

Opening Credits

M and Mallory

MI6 Goes Boom

Bond in Paradise

Bond and the Scorpion

M: "Where the hell have you been?"

Bond: "Enjoying death. 007 reporting for duty."

New Digs

Broken Bond

Word Association

Meet Q

Q: "Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that anymore."

Tracking the Target in Shanghai

Sillouette Throwdown

A Sexy Shave

Casino Night Entrance

Severine: "How much do you know about fear?"

Bond: "All there is."

Severine: "Not like this."

Fight Among the Dragons

Sneaking into the Shower

Mallory: "For Christ's sake, listen to yourself! We're a democracy, and we're responsible to the people we're supposed to defend! We can't keep fighting in the shadows, there are no more shadows!"

Abandoned City on the Island

Meet Silva

Silva: "Hello, James. Welcome. Do you like the island? My grandmother had an island. Nothing to boast of. You could walk around it in an hour, but still it was, it was a paradise for us. One summer, we went for a visit and discovered the place had been infested with rats. They'd come on a fishing boat and gorged themselves on coconut. So how do you get rats off an island? Hmm? My grandmother showed me. We buried an oil drum and hinged the lid. Then we wired coconut to the lid as bait and the rats would come for the coconut and... they would fall into the drum. And after a month, you have trapped all the rats, but what do you do then? Throw the drum into the ocean? Burn it? No. You just leave it and they begin to get hungry. And one by one...[makes rat noise] they start eating each other until there are only two left. The two survivors. And then what? Do you kill them? No. You take them and release them into the trees, but now they don't eat coconut anymore. Now, they only eat rat. You have changed their nature. The two survivors. This is what she made us."

Gun Game

Bond: "Latest thing from Q Branch! It's called a radio!"

Silva's Story


Silva's Escape

The Pursuit

Bond: "It won't open."

Q: "Of course it will, put your back into it."

Train Crash

M: "Chairman, Ministers, today I've repeatedly heard how irrelevant my department has become. "Why do we need agents, the 00 section? Isn't it all rather quaint?" Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do and the truth is that what I see frightens me. I'm frightened because our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map. They're not nations, they're individuals. And look around you. Who do you fear? Can you see a face, a uniform, a flag? No! Our world is not more transparent now, it's more opaque! It's in the shadows. That's where we must do battle...

Shootout at the Hearing

Return of the Astin Martin

Bond and M

M: "How old were you when they died?"

Bond: "You know the answer to that. You know the whole story."

M: "Orphans always make the best recruits."


Prepping for Battle

Battle of Skyfall

F**ked with the Wrong Car

Bond: "I always hated this place."

Blowing up the House

Escaping the Frozen Lake

Silva: "Do you see what comes of all this running around, Mr. Bond? All this jumping and fighting, it's exhausting! Relax. You need to relax... Ah well, mother's calling. I will give her a good-bye kiss for you."

The Church

Silva: "You're hurt. You're hurt! What have they done to you? What have they done to you?"

Stabbed in the Back

Goodbye, M

M's Gift

The New Crew/p>

Mallory: "So, 007... Lots to be done. Are you ready to get back to work?"

Bond: "With pleasure, M. With pleasure."

Bond's First Kill(s)

Dryden: "How did he die?"

Bond: "Your contact? Not well."

Opening Credits

Meet Le Chiffre

Chase Through Madagascar

Construction Area

Crane Fight!

Chaos in the Embassy

Poor International Diplomacy

Weeping Blood

Chiffre: "Weeping blood comes merely from a derangement of the tear duct, my dear General. Nothing sinister."

M: "In the old days if an agent did something this embrassing he'd have the good sense to defect. Christ I miss the Cold War."

Inside M's Apartment

Off to the Bahamas

Bond Emerges from the Water/Eyeing the Girl

Bond's Poker Skills

Stealing the Bad Guy's Girl

Solange: "Why can't nice guys be more like you?"

Bond: "Because then they would be bad."

Bond Follows Dimitrios to Miami

A Slow, Quiet Knife Fight

Chase Across the Airport

Misplaced Bomb

Meet Vesper Lynd

Vesper: "So, as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government's money, and off your perfectly-formed ass."

Bond: "You noticed."

The Plan

Bond: "Don't worry, you're not my type."

Vesper: "Smart?"

Bond: "Single."

A New Dinner Jacket

The Poker Game, Round 1

A Stunning Distraction

Stairwell Fight

A Comforting Shower

The Poker Game, Round 2

False Bluff

Bond: "Vodka-martini."

Bartender: "Shaken or stirred?"

Bond: "Do I look like I give a damn?"

Back in the Game

*Gasp* Poisoned!

Winner -- Mr. Bond


Epic Car Crash

Simple Torture

Bond: "Now the whole world's gonna know that you died scratching my balls!"

Le Chiffre Down

Vesper: "You're not going to let me in there, are you? You've got your armor back on. That's that"

Bond: "I have no armor left; you've stripped it from me. Whatever's left of me -- whatever is left of me -- whatever I am -- I'm yours.

The Fairytale Begins

Vesper's True Intentions

Final Shootout

Vesper's Choice

Going after Mr. White

Bond: "The name's Bond -- James Bond."

The Bond movies have always had quick-paced scores to highlight the action, and with SKYFALL Thomas Newman does this while also giving Bond a bold, new sound. There's a ton of different sounds here, including heart-thumping, powerful pieces ("Silhouette"), ominous compositions ("Skyfall"), and good old-fashioned, romantic scores ("Severine"). Newman certainly earned his Oscar nomination here, delivering a score as complex as the movie itself. As for the Bond song, Adele crushed it with the title track, and much like Newman, earned her Oscar attention.
If the point of CASINO ROYALE was to defy the conventions of past movies (it was), while still holding true to the roots (it did), then that is perfectly symbolized in the score. There's no use of the main Bond theme until the movie's final moment, leaving the rest of David Arnold's score to be as adventurous and exciting as this new outing. There's a lot of classic sounds and big, ensemble orchestrations going on here that recall the jet-setting vibes of classic spy films, with lightning-fast action scores to highlight the refreshing action. Well done, Mr. Arnold. Well done. Then there's the Bond song, with the late Chris Cornell doing a great job with the rockin' "You Know My Name."
The big action sequence that starts off the movie is indeed an absurdly entertaining piece of action filmmaking, one that utilizes a tremendous level of scope and setting. After that, the scenes are more intimate, and though not as purely entertaining as the opening number, have much more weight behind them. A very, very, very, very large kudos for this goes to cinematographer Roger Deakins, who brings his legendary use of light and color to Bond and shoots some of the most impressive scenes on his career. The scenes with Bond fighting a thug in a Chinese skyscraper or when Silva is shooting up Bond's childhood home are elevated to high art thanks to Deakins. High art may not give you the edge of your seat thrills some of the stuff in CASINO does, but it's a tremendous watch nonetheless.
The first true action bit in CASINO comes at the very beginning when in black and white, Bond tussles with a thug in a brutal fistfight that you would maybe see in an R-rated thriller. This Bond would not be like the others as far as action was concerned, and the movie lived up to that with plenty of exhilarating throwdowns and some ingenious set pieces. Who can forget the parkour-inspired chase scene in the first act, or when Bond has a shootout with some thugs in Italy, even as the building comes down. Who needs rockets coming out of a sports car when all you need is a few swift punches from a tough, daring British spy?
Holy shit, Javier Bardem! The moment his blonde-haired, eccentrically-dressed villain comes walking from the other side of that room, expertly delivering that insane but prophetic monologue there was no way he wasn't walking away from this as anything less than the star of the show. With Raoul Silva, Bardem gave us what may perhaps be the greatest Bond villain, and certainly the most complicated and endlessly fascinating. Here is where the bar rests for the future Bond villains, and one even the great Christoph Waltz had trouble topping in SPECTRE.
Even more so than its competition, SKYFALL is all about showing a new side of Bond, but one that pays homage to the movies and innovations in the series that came before. There's the classic Astin Martin (which came back in CASINO), the stunning women, tuxedos and more. But this Bond is stripped down and made anew in ways CASINO wasn't, which is in no way a bad thing, but the movie may not provide the exact kind of thrills earlier entries did for this very reason.
The whole point of CASINO was to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Gone were the frivolous gadgets and expensive nonsense of the Pierce Brosnan films. This Bond was to be treated with a level of seriousness befitting of a modern gentleman spy, grounding it in a real world. Still, that doesn't mean all the fun has to be sucked away. There's still beautiful, tropical locales, gorgeous women Bond effortlessly seduces by flashing his Husky blues, and a few neat little gadgets here and there. This Bond respects the others while feeling fresh all at the same time, which is just what the series needs after a good 40 years.
One major way SKYFALL sets itself apart from the rest of the movies is that there is no clear love interest. Sure, you can't have a Bond movie without showing him seducing some lovely lady in a perfectly-fitting dress, and that honor belongs to the character Serevine. But as for the woman who accompanies him on his main journey (as we will explore in CASINO) the woman he spends most of his time and focus on is M. There is a maternal angle to M's relationship with Bond, even with both being a bit salty towards each other. Taking this route may not be as sexy, but it certainly sheds light on a different side of M and Bond that we aren't likely to see again.
As much as Bond was reinvented in CASINO, one of the more fascinating elements was his relationship with the incredibly alluring Eva Green as Vesper Lynd (possibly the best name given to any Bond girl). Not only does she supply some of the trademark Bond sensuality, but she is completely absorbing as a woman who so effortlessly cuts through Bond's defenses. We can see this instantly when they meet on the train. They read each other like a book and their chemistry is heated and off the chain. By the end, her death marks a great tragedy in his life, proving she indeed had a firm hold on him. Very few ladies have cut to the center of Bond so powerfully.
    Best Original Song
    Best Sound Editing
    Best Cinematography
    Best Original Score
    Best Sound Mixing
Golden Schmoes:
    Favorite Movie of the Year
    Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem
    Best Supporting Actress: Judi Dench
    Best Action Scene: "Entire Opening Sequence"
    Best Trailer of the Year
    Best T&A of the Year: Bérénice Marlohe
    Best Music
    Most Memorable Scene: "Silva's Intro"

    **67 Wins & 119 Nominations (per IMDB)**

    Praise Money:
      $304 million domestic ($1.1 billion global)
Golden Schmoes:
    Biggest Surprise
    Breakthrough Performance: Daniel Craig
    Coolest Character: James Bond
    Best Trailer
    Best Action Scene: "Construction Area Chase"
      Favorite Movie of the Year
      Best T&A of the Year: Eva Green

    **27 Wins & 44 Nominations (per IMDB)**

    Praise Money:
      $167 million domestic ($599 million global)

24 films in the Bond series, and these are two of the best, if not the best. Both take Bond to places they've never been, showcasing a conflicted, haunted, dark, but still charming Bond. CASINO ROYALE delivered the thrills and depth needed to properly reboot the series, but SKYFALL took everything to a new level and turned a James Bond movie into something of pure art. The thrills are all there, but there's an added emotion and technical and visual aesthetic that will be hard to top for any Bond movie in the future, with more improved character dynamics, to boot. And talk about a villain. Javier Bardem was robbed of an Oscar nom, but we all know how amazing he was in this movie. We will all remember is work and inform our children of his great role for generations.



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