Why hasn't Eon been able to hire great writers?

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  • UnderwaterBattle007UnderwaterBattle007 Posts: 284MI6 Agent
    I enjoyed Moore's performance in the "Sea Wolves"and I wish he'd have played Bond like that.
    FRWl, CR, OHMSS, TSWLM, SF, GF, TLD, LTK, TND, FYEO, OP,TWINE, GE, LALD, TB, SPECTRE, DN, YOLT, TMWTGG, QOS, MR, DAF, DAD, AVTAK, NTTD.

    "Do you expect me to talk? "No Mister Bond I expect you to die"
  • Absolutely_CartAbsolutely_Cart NJ/NYC, United StatesPosts: 1,740MI6 Agent
    I agree with Gassy Man. I'd like to basically introduce a hard ban on mistresses who die giving Bond information and billionaire villains with a super-weapon.

    A SPY film is supposed to be about mystery and figuring out what's going on. But there's less sense of discovery when you know what's going to happen.

    The Living Daylights was great because I had no idea what Koskov's plan (or even if he was a villain) until the plot came together. The World Is Not Enough also had a good twist by making Elektra the villain, and staging false terrorist attacks to make her company wealthy. As much as I criticize Skyfall's story, even I had absolutely no idea what would happen in the third act and that it would take a completely different turn was a surprise for me.
  • perdoggperdogg Posts: 432MI6 Agent
    Why are action movies able to spend 100+ million dollars on CGI, set pieces and such, but will barely spend any money hiring a good writer?

    Writing is one of the most important parts of film, and it effectively dictates both the characters and the atmosphere. The fact that they get paid probably as much as just a stunt car or two.

    .

    That is a good question. Eon is not in business to make good movies, Eon is in business to make money. There is a book called Save The Cat about how every movie is essentially the same based on current trends. Hollywood is just not interested in "good scripts" only scripts that make money.
    "And if I told you that I'm from the Ministry of Defence?" James Bond - The Property of a Lady
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    perdogg wrote:
    Why are action movies able to spend 100+ million dollars on CGI, set pieces and such, but will barely spend any money hiring a good writer?

    Writing is one of the most important parts of film, and it effectively dictates both the characters and the atmosphere. The fact that they get paid probably as much as just a stunt car or two.

    .

    That is a good question. Eon is not in business to make good movies, Eon is in business to make money. There is a book called Save The Cat about how every movie is essentially the same based on current trends. Hollywood is just not interested in "good scripts" only scripts that make money.

    Movies are a product, just like shoes. If you make bad shoes, no matter how fancy and how well marketed, eventually they will stop selling, probably very fast. If you want to stay in business long term, you have to make a good product. If you just want to make money and don't care about your product, you're thinking short term, and will never build a strong brand.

    The script is the design of the movie, so it obviously has to be good to begin with, meaning well constructed, with solid characters and atmosphere as noted, and hopefully interesting stories. It might use the three act structure since the days of the greeks, but that does not mean it's the same movie over and over.

    EON knows all of the above. They didn't stay in business for over 50 years by ignoring it, although it's true that now and then they released a bad movie, with a weak script, or took the easy way out by remaking old films.
  • Absolutely_CartAbsolutely_Cart NJ/NYC, United StatesPosts: 1,740MI6 Agent
    Eon had made movies with good writing which have sold well: Casino Royale and The World Is Not Enough, for example.

    You can do both.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    perdogg wrote:
    Why are action movies able to spend 100+ million dollars on CGI, set pieces and such, but will barely spend any money hiring a good writer?

    Writing is one of the most important parts of film, and it effectively dictates both the characters and the atmosphere. The fact that they get paid probably as much as just a stunt car or two.

    .

    That is a good question. Eon is not in business to make good movies, Eon is in business to make money. There is a book called Save The Cat about how every movie is essentially the same based on current trends. Hollywood is just not interested in "good scripts" only scripts that make money.

    Movies are a product, just like shoes. If you make bad shoes, no matter how fancy and how well marketed, eventually they will stop selling, probably very fast. If you want to stay in business long term, you have to make a good product. If you just want to make money and don't care about your product, you're thinking short term, and will never build a strong brand.

    The script is the design of the movie, so it obviously has to be good to begin with, meaning well constructed, with solid characters and atmosphere as noted, and hopefully interesting stories. It might use the three act structure since the days of the greeks, but that does not mean it's the same movie over and over.

    EON knows all of the above. They didn't stay in business for over 50 years by ignoring it, although it's true that now and then they released a bad movie, with a weak script, or took the easy way out by remaking old films.
    Unfortunately, the writing does not have to be good. In fact, that's what the Spielbergs and Lucases showed -- they essentially took the most cliche-driven, simplistic ideas that would have been confined to "B" movies of their childhood and treated them with "A" movie budgets. That's because mass audiences are more likely to respond to what the Greeks called "spectacle" -- stunts, special effects, even gratuitous violence and sexuality -- than they were to the compelling intellectual basis for the story. Once restrictions on what films could show got relaxed starting in the late 1960s, the writing no longer had to try so hard to find poetic or creative ways to express what could not be said or shown. Now, it's just possible to say or show it. This increases the need for more spectacle.

    Thus, we have seen for the past 40 years action films ramping up the spectacle while minimizing dialogue and character. One way to minimize character is to trade biographical trivia for onscreen development. A lot of what passes for "character" are superfluous details about his or her life -- the sort of products they use or the type of car they drive -- and expository dialogue -- "I remember when he was a boy and found out . . ." or "When I was a boy growing up we had a rat problem on the island . . . " We also see more of the dreaded montage scene, played to music that hopes to tie it all together, a la a video.

    It's shorthand telling for what instead should be actual showing, and often avoids the more interesting things to see. Think about it: The scene with Silva walking out of the elevator and telling the rat story is spectacle -- nothing really happens except Bond is tied to a chair and there's a big room empty of almost everything but some servers. It doesn't even have the visual splendor of, say, Goldfinger's recreation room, but to a modern audience, close enough. The actual scene of the rats that Silva only tells in expository dialogue is the more interesting, but it's left solely to the imagination. If you're going to do that much work, read a book. A better film would have shown the actual scene in some way. But it's both cheaper and easier to reduce it to expository dialogue.

    So, I don't think the writing has to be good. It has to be passable. The rest is a matter of what draws a modern audience to the theater. And that's mostly the aesthetics. If those are strong enough, no matter how dopey, simplistic, or flawed the script is, the average person will be entertained. Skyfall has lots of flaws, but it piggy-backs on the familiar (like The Dark Knight and Straw Dogs) and is better aesthetically than, say, Quantum of Solace -- more sentimentality, such as the Aston Martin in its former glory, M's speech while Bond runs down the street, the treacle of Bond's lonely childhood in a manor house right out of a Gothic romance, etc. It's spectacle is arguably better because we can actually see what's going on, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    Just why does Bond think going to his home will give him an advantage, especially when it doesn't? Where did Silva get that military helicopter, and how did he fly it into British airspace? How come we keep seeing so many train scenes in Craig Bond films, and how come nobody on the train in Turkey is concerned when the roof is ripped away and a blond guy comes aboard? How come Silva can hack the secret service computer system but not a laptop? How is it Bond got outfitted with a tracker in Casino Royale but nobody can find his body in Skyfall or even know he's still alive? Why is CNN in English on the TV in the bar? These may all seem trivial concerns -- and someone will argue that anything one examines closely in a movie can be subject to illogic -- but notice that one has more time to think of such things when there aren't as many countervailing good scenes to distract them. I can't think of a single prolonged dialogue exchange in Skyfall that makes me say, "Wow, that was an incredible conversation." I can't think of a single scene that is memorable that doesn't operate more on spectacle -- a stunt, chase, or explosion, for instance -- than it does on the intellectual concept.

    There are moments that come close. The meeting with Q, for instance, could have been more memorable if it had covered new ground. But haven't we had MI:5 under threat of obsolescence in the previous two films? Hasn't it already been established that political forces are not happy and times have changed? So we don't really learn anything new, except that Bond and Q aren't going to see eye to eye -- but we already know that, too. On top of that, the theme of the scene is muddled. Is it about age? After all, we get the whole old ship metaphor pounded into our head as old guy meets the new guy. (And M's rather convenient reading of Tennyson's poem later cites a passage specifically about the aging hero while Mallory is already talking retirement.) Is it about innovation versus obsolescence? If that's the case, how come the innovator hands Bond 90-year-old technology in the form of a Walther and a tracker? On the surface, it seems a profound scene -- they're even in a museum, and Bond is under threat of being relegated to it, get it? But when you think about it, the writing lacks enough clarity to drive its point home; instead, we get a collection of possibilities that are a dramatic Rorschach test for the audience, which gets the sentiment of the scene without focused understanding. But, then, that's enough for most. That they feel something meaningful just happened is more important than being able to articulate its meaning.

    Let's take the issue of going to Skyfall in the climax. This satisfies several things that have little to do with the logic of the story. First, Mendes loves endings in remote places and a few people. I don't know why. All of his actioners seem to come to this conclusion. Second, it somehow makes the moment more personal. It's Bond's childhood home, and as we've been told through glancing expository dialogue, all of Bond's problems start there. Only, maybe it would have been more dramatically interesting to actually show us some of these problems. Third, it sets up the death of M, who we know is on her way out one way or the other. Only, Bond's plan was to save her while flushing Silva out. Well, I guess half of it worked. But let's imagine another scenario that would have fit the situation better while also not making Bond look like a tactical ass. What if Bond had kidnapped M with no real plan. He was improvising, going on instinct. They get in the Aston Martin. M says where are we going. Bond says he doesn't know. He seems truly obsolete, as the film threatens he is. But M, knowing Bond's history after all, makes the suggestion to go to Skyfall. Bond objects -- the "test" scene made it clear it's a sore subject for him, and he obviously wants to avoid it. But M rationalizes it's someplace Silva would not anticipate, and that maybe they can hold out there. Now, dramatically, Bond is left with a dilemma. Does he follow M's orders to protect her or does he let his childhood trauma win. Of course, being Bond, he chooses the former. Now, though, when M dies, it's not because of some bungled plan by Bond but by her own decision, and we've seen she hasn't been too good at that lately. But it also underscores how she gives Bond a chance for psychological resolution before she dies because Skyfall and emotionally everything connected to it is obliterated. At least until Spectre drags it all out again.
  • Absolutely_CartAbsolutely_Cart NJ/NYC, United StatesPosts: 1,740MI6 Agent
    For the flaws Skyfall's story has, it was more original and had more surprises and twists than at least half of the other Bond films.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Eh, I don't know that that's true. Casino Royale has at least as many twists, and it didn't plagiarize The Dark Knight and Straw Dogs.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Actually, I read what you wrote too quickly, Absolutely_Cart. Yep, I'd agree with what you said.
  • The Debonair BondThe Debonair Bond Posts: 48MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Virgil37 wrote:
    perdogg wrote:

    That is a good question. Eon is not in business to make good movies, Eon is in business to make money. There is a book called Save The Cat about how every movie is essentially the same based on current trends. Hollywood is just not interested in "good scripts" only scripts that make money.

    Movies are a product, just like shoes. If you make bad shoes, no matter how fancy and how well marketed, eventually they will stop selling, probably very fast. If you want to stay in business long term, you have to make a good product. If you just want to make money and don't care about your product, you're thinking short term, and will never build a strong brand.

    The script is the design of the movie, so it obviously has to be good to begin with, meaning well constructed, with solid characters and atmosphere as noted, and hopefully interesting stories. It might use the three act structure since the days of the greeks, but that does not mean it's the same movie over and over.

    EON knows all of the above. They didn't stay in business for over 50 years by ignoring it, although it's true that now and then they released a bad movie, with a weak script, or took the easy way out by remaking old films.
    Unfortunately, the writing does not have to be good. In fact, that's what the Spielbergs and Lucases showed -- they essentially took the most cliche-driven, simplistic ideas that would have been confined to "B" movies of their childhood and treated them with "A" movie budgets. That's because mass audiences are more likely to respond to what the Greeks called "spectacle" -- stunts, special effects, even gratuitous violence and sexuality -- than they were to the compelling intellectual basis for the story. Once restrictions on what films could show got relaxed starting in the late 1960s, the writing no longer had to try so hard to find poetic or creative ways to express what could not be said or shown. Now, it's just possible to say or show it. This increases the need for more spectacle.

    Thus, we have seen for the past 40 years action films ramping up the spectacle while minimizing dialogue and character. One way to minimize character is to trade biographical trivia for onscreen development. A lot of what passes for "character" are superfluous details about his or her life -- the sort of products they use or the type of car they drive -- and expository dialogue -- "I remember when he was a boy and found out . . ." or "When I was a boy growing up we had a rat problem on the island . . . " We also see more of the dreaded montage scene, played to music that hopes to tie it all together, a la a video.

    Except that those movies that you seem to be criticizing for being "cliche-driven, simplistic and without intellectual basis" are to me the complete opposite of what you describe. Spielberg and Lucas where geniuses-they didn't make their movies be some of the most iconic and influential films in history by being bad filmmakers.

    The problem was that Hollywood has since tried to emulate the impact of Star Wars and Indy hundreds of times since, and in the process they forgot that what drove these movies to be hits to begin with is the fact that the characters where relatable, and the stories while appearing simplistic on the surface and merely a "good vs evil" story, had real depth to them and where grounded in mythic archetypes that have proven to be successful since the dawn of man. They overlooked that and stayed with the idea that films needed to turn into circus parades in order to draw crowds. The difference between a Transformers movie and a Star Wars one, is that the latter had a story.

    Bond in a way is a victim of this same phenomenon. One the surface many might simply dismiss him as an escapist male fantasy character, but once you get to see more of what he is about (especially during the Craig tenure) you get to see that it really isn't like that at all, and that Bond is a very complex character that doesn't fit easily into a single trope.

    As far as the writing is concerned- Do we really need to turn Bond into Shakespeare? I mean, what constitutes good or bad writing in a film is subjective to begin with, but as long as what the characters say makes sense and is true to who they are, It's not really that big of a problem in my opinion.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    I wouldn't call Star Wars anything other than what it is -- a B movie with an A budget. A rehash of King Arthur with some spaceships. Even Alec Guinness and others thought it was crap when they were making it and were dumbfounded at its success, which is why Lucas retained so many of the marketing rights, as the studio assumed it would be a failure. It's better than other B movies mostly by aesthetic. Once that was established and the blockbuster was born, it was no longer necessary to consider great writing. Now, such would be confined to "little" or "independent" films.

    Bond never was Shakespeare and never will be. But that doesn't mean it has to be dreck, either. To put it in perspective, I showed two scenes from Thunderball in class yesterday -- the one where Connery offers Fiona her shoes and the one where he is driving with her in the Mustang. They chuckled or laughed aloud at the right parts. Then I showed the scene from Casino Royale where Bond drives up to the hotel. Hardly any reaction, even at the funny part. I asked the difference, and they said both the acting and writing. They saw Connery doing more, and could see the intelligence to the idea. They thought Craig by comparison was super stoic and limited. Now, before someone says "But those scenes aren't equivalent," I asked those that had seen all of Casino Royale or the other Craig films how they compared, and even the ones who were big fans said there was more going on in the Connery scenes. I agree. That's got a lot to do with the writing. It wasn't Shakespeare, but it's better than now.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    I hate good writing. It interferes with my mindless enjoyment of a movie. 8-) X-(
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • LoeffelholzLoeffelholz The United States, With LovePosts: 8,985Quartermasters
    edited November 2015
    There is no doubt that Maibaum in his prime could write circles (and 'loop the loops') around P&W :#
    Check out my Amazon author page! Mark Loeffelholz
    "I am not an entrant in the Shakespeare Stakes." - Ian Fleming
    "Screw 'em." - Daniel Craig, The Best James Bond EverTM
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Virgil37 wrote:

    Movies are a product, just like shoes. If you make bad shoes, no matter how fancy and how well marketed, eventually they will stop selling, probably very fast. If you want to stay in business long term, you have to make a good product. If you just want to make money and don't care about your product, you're thinking short term, and will never build a strong brand.

    The script is the design of the movie, so it obviously has to be good to begin with, meaning well constructed, with solid characters and atmosphere as noted, and hopefully interesting stories. It might use the three act structure since the days of the greeks, but that does not mean it's the same movie over and over.

    EON knows all of the above. They didn't stay in business for over 50 years by ignoring it, although it's true that now and then they released a bad movie, with a weak script, or took the easy way out by remaking old films.
    Unfortunately, the writing does not have to be good. In fact, that's what the Spielbergs and Lucases showed -- they essentially took the most cliche-driven, simplistic ideas that would have been confined to "B" movies of their childhood and treated them with "A" movie budgets. That's because mass audiences are more likely to respond to what the Greeks called "spectacle" -- stunts, special effects, even gratuitous violence and sexuality -- than they were to the compelling intellectual basis for the story. Once restrictions on what films could show got relaxed starting in the late 1960s, the writing no longer had to try so hard to find poetic or creative ways to express what could not be said or shown. Now, it's just possible to say or show it. This increases the need for more spectacle.

    Thus, we have seen for the past 40 years action films ramping up the spectacle while minimizing dialogue and character. One way to minimize character is to trade biographical trivia for onscreen development. A lot of what passes for "character" are superfluous details about his or her life -- the sort of products they use or the type of car they drive -- and expository dialogue -- "I remember when he was a boy and found out . . ." or "When I was a boy growing up we had a rat problem on the island . . . " We also see more of the dreaded montage scene, played to music that hopes to tie it all together, a la a video.

    Except that those movies that you seem to be criticizing for being "cliche-driven, simplistic and without intellectual basis" are to me the complete opposite of what you describe. Spielberg and Lucas where geniuses-they didn't make their movies be some of the most iconic and influential films in history by being bad filmmakers.

    The problem was that Hollywood has since tried to emulate the impact of Star Wars and Indy hundreds of times since, and in the process they forgot that what drove these movies to be hits to begin with is the fact that the characters where relatable, and the stories while appearing simplistic on the surface and merely a "good vs evil" story, had real depth to them and where grounded in mythic archetypes that have proven to be successful since the dawn of man. They overlooked that and stayed with the idea that films needed to turn into circus parades in order to draw crowds. The difference between a Transformers movie and a Star Wars one, is that the latter had a story.

    Bond in a way is a victim of this same phenomenon. One the surface many might simply dismiss him as an escapist male fantasy character, but once you get to see more of what he is about (especially during the Craig tenure) you get to see that it really isn't like that at all, and that Bond is a very complex character that doesn't fit easily into a single trope.

    As far as the writing is concerned- Do we really need to turn Bond into Shakespeare? I mean, what constitutes good or bad writing in a film is subjective to begin with, but as long as what the characters say makes sense and is true to who they are, It's not really that big of a problem in my opinion.


    Exactly.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    chrisisall wrote:
    I hate good writing. It interferes with my mindless enjoyment of a movie. 8-) X-(
    {[]
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    There is no doubt that Maibaum in his prime could write circles (and 'loop the loops') around P&W :#
    He had to compete a lot with the great writers of the period -- not so much today, though.
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    In fact, that's what the Spielbergs and Lucases showed -- they essentially took the most cliche-driven, simplistic ideas that would have been confined to "B" movies of their childhood and treated them with "A" movie budgets.

    That in itself is a cliche. Lawrence Kasdan's script of "Raiders of the lost ark" and the core of "Star Wars" by Lucas are great scriptwriting. Not just B movies with A movies budget. They were reviewed as such back in the day, but the test of time has proven there was more to them.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    That's because mass audiences are more likely to respond to what the Greeks called "spectacle" -- stunts, special effects, even gratuitous violence and sexuality -- than they were to the compelling intellectual basis for the story.  Once restrictions on what films could show got relaxed starting in the late 1960s, the writing no longer had to try so hard to find poetic or creative ways to express what could not be said or shown.  Now, it's just possible to say or show it.  This increases the need for more spectacle.

    This is irrelevant to Bond movies. They always showed what they needed to show. Even to this day, they have more or less the same amount of violence and sex, regarless of censorship. Sex, mostly out of camera, never nudity. Violence, but never gruesome. There was never a need to express poetically what couldn't be filmed.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Thus, we have seen for the past 40 years action films ramping up the spectacle while minimizing dialogue and character.  One way to minimize character is to trade biographical trivia for onscreen development.  A lot of what passes for "character" are superfluous details about his or her life -- the sort of products they use or the type of car they drive -- and expository dialogue -- "I remember when he was a boy and found out . . ." or "When I was a boy growing up we had a rat problem on the island . . . "  We also see more of the dreaded montage scene, played to music that hopes to tie it all together, a la a video.   

    The rat speech is magnificent. Expository, yes. But good expository.Superfluous details? with that story Silva is telling you who he really is and what he went through, where Bond fits, and most importantly where M fits, basically setting up the whole movie with one powerful image that remains in the viewer's mind. If that was not powerful enough, later he asks M directly "Do you know what it does to you?", and removes his facial prosthetic. Then you truly know M's days are numbered. That is good scriptwriting, the reason why SF worked so well.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    It's shorthand telling for what instead should be actual showing, and often avoids the more interesting things to see. Think about it:  The scene with Silva walking out of the elevator and telling the rat story is spectacle -- nothing really happens except Bond is tied to a chair and there's a big room empty of almost everything but some servers. It doesn't even have the visual splendor of, say, Goldfinger's recreation room, but to a modern audience, close enough.   The actual scene of the rats that Silva only tells in expository dialogue is the more interesting, but it's left solely to the imagination. If you're going to do that much work, read a book.  A better film would have shown the actual scene in some way.  But it's both cheaper and easier to reduce it to expository dialogue.

    Again, the rat story is memorable. What would have you done? flashback to Silva's childhood? flashback to Silva as agent? expository dialogue in M's office, telling Bond and the audience Silva's story? film the actual rats? Give a few ideas, and if I think one is better than what the scriptwriters came up with, I'll let you know. As it is, the rats' monologue is the best way to convey a lot of information in a few lines. Billy Wilder used to say that if you can give information in one line of expository dialogue, don't waste time and money filming five pages of script to give the same information visually. Nothing wrong with that. And he knew a thing or two about scriptwriting.

    By the way, that Goldfinger has a big ego is well established when he breaks the pencil after Bond makes him lose his card game. You don't have to wait until he tells about his plans in his recreation room.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    So, I don't think the writing has to be good. It has to be passable. The rest is a matter of what draws a modern audience to the theater. And that's mostly the aesthetics. If those are strong enough, no matter how dopey, simplistic, or flawed the script is, the average person will be entertained. Skyfall has lots of flaws, but it piggy-backs on the familiar (like The Dark Knight and Straw Dogs) and is better aesthetically than, say, Quantum of Solace -- more sentimentality, such as the Aston Martin in its former glory, M's speech while Bond runs down the street, the treacle of Bond's lonely childhood in a manor house right out of a Gothic romance, etc. It's spectacle is arguably better because we can actually see what's going on, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

    Within the context on Bond movies SF or CR do not strike me as passable. There are more than a few that could qualify as passable, but not SF or CR (or FRWL, GF, OHMSS,...). I guess we'll never see eye to eye, I already disagree with you about what you consider psychological trivia in these and Batman movies. There's more to "Dark Knight", CR and SF than aesthetics. I guess we'll have to wait and see what movies stand the test of time.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Just why does Bond think going to his home will give him an advantage, especially when it doesn't? Where did Silva get that military helicopter, and how did he fly it into British airspace? How come we keep seeing so many train scenes in Craig Bond films, and how come nobody on the train in Turkey is concerned when the roof is ripped away and a blond guy comes aboard? How come Silva can hack the secret service computer system but not a laptop? How is it Bond got outfitted with a tracker in Casino Royale but nobody can find his body in Skyfall or even know he's still alive? Why is CNN in English on the TV in the bar? These may all seem trivial concerns -- and someone will argue that anything one examines closely in a movie can be subject to illogic -- but notice that one has more time to think of such things when there aren't as many countervailing good scenes to distract them. I can't think of a single prolonged dialogue exchange in Skyfall that makes me say, "Wow, that was an incredible conversation." I can't think of a single scene that is memorable that doesn't operate more on spectacle -- a stunt, chase, or explosion, for instance -- than it does on the intellectual concept.

    All those examples you give are obviously suspension of disbelief related, none are bad scriptwriting per se. That you don't find "many countervailing scenes" in SF to distract you is fair enough. In my case, the suspension of disbelief was complete , I guess because Bond's near death and return to life, Silva's and M's story, Silva's relentless chase, and M's ultimate death were powerful enough and compelling enough. But of course you are free to distract yourself wondering why CNN is in english at the bar if you didn't find anything else in the movie.

    The dialogues could have been better, I give you that. But scriptwriting and dialogue writing as you know are not the same thing. Even the best scriptwriters are known to hire dialogists to perfect dialogue in an otherwise perfect script. Someone like Tarantino, whose forte is dialogue, doesn't need to.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    There are moments that come close. The meeting with Q, for instance, could have been more memorable if it had covered new ground. But haven't we had MI:5 under threat of obsolescence in the previous two films? Hasn't it already been established that political forces are not happy and times have changed? So we don't really learn anything new, except that Bond and Q aren't going to see eye to eye -- but we already know that, too. On top of that, the theme of the scene is muddled. Is it about age? After all, we get the whole old ship metaphor pounded into our head as old guy meets the new guy. (And M's rather convenient reading of Tennyson's poem later cites a passage specifically about the aging hero while Mallory is already talking retirement.) Is it about innovation versus obsolescence? If that's the case, how come the innovator hands Bond 90-year-old technology in the form of a Walther and a tracker? On the surface, it seems a profound scene -- they're even in a museum, and Bond is under threat of being relegated to it, get it? But when you think about it, the writing lacks enough clarity to drive its point home; instead, we get a collection of possibilities that are a dramatic Rorschach test for the audience, which gets the sentiment of the scene without focused understanding. But, then, that's enough for most. That they feel something meaningful just happened is more important than being able to articulate its meaning.

    "We don't learn anything new except Bond and Q aren't going to see eye to eye, but we already know that too". You do, Bond doesn't, Q doesn't . He meets Q there and then after the reboot. That's the whole point of the scene. It's Q and Bond meeting for the first time ever, and this time Q is younger than Bond. You already know who Bond is, but you don't know who this Q is, and the scene describes him perfectly. Yes, obsolescence vs. innovation, contrasting the characters, establishing their relationship. You hear " I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field" and suddenly you don't think of Desmond Llewelyn anymore. Good scriptwriting.
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Let's take the issue of going to Skyfall in the climax. This satisfies several things that have little to do with the logic of the story. First, Mendes loves endings in remote places and a few people. I don't know why. All of his actioners seem to come to this conclusion. Second, it somehow makes the moment more personal. It's Bond's childhood home, and as we've been told through glancing expository dialogue, all of Bond's problems start there. Only, maybe it would have been more dramatically interesting to actually show us some of these problems. Third, it sets up the death of M, who we know is on her way out one way or the other. Only, Bond's plan was to save her while flushing Silva out. Well, I guess half of it worked. But let's imagine another scenario that would have fit the situation better while also not making Bond look like a tactical ass. What if Bond had kidnapped M with no real plan. He was improvising, going on instinct. They get in the Aston Martin. M says where are we going. Bond says he doesn't know. He seems truly obsolete, as the film threatens he is. But M, knowing Bond's history after all, makes the suggestion to go to Skyfall. Bond objects -- the "test" scene made it clear it's a sore subject for him, and he obviously wants to avoid it. But M rationalizes it's someplace Silva would not anticipate, and that maybe they can hold out there. Now, dramatically, Bond is left with a dilemma. Does he follow M's orders to protect her or does he let his childhood trauma win. Of course, being Bond, he chooses the former. Now, though, when M dies, it's not because of some bungled plan by Bond but by her own decision, and we've seen she hasn't been too good at that lately. But it also underscores how she gives Bond a chance for psychological resolution before she dies because Skyfall and emotionally everything connected to it is obliterated. At least until Spectre drags it all out again.

    Yes, you are right. I even thought of the climax being illogical myself after seeing SF. I suddenly went, "wait, why did Bond take M to Skyfall all on his own?". Yes, he could have hired a private army, or take her to an aircraft carrier, etc, etc...But I thought of that after seeing the movie, not while I was seeing it. Same with "Jaws" (Brody shooting at the scuba tank), "Citizen Kane" (nobody in the room with him when he says Rosebud, then dies),...Endless list. Does that make "Jaws" or "Citizen Kane" bad screenplays? no, because the storytelling is compelling enough that it immerses you in the movie. If a writer can infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative. That's the suspension of disbelief definition in Wikipedia.

    Your suggestion that M orders Bond to take her to Skyfall and Bond's dilemma etc, would be like Chief Brody in "Jaws"saying to himself "hey, shooting the scuba tank won't work, I have to find another way to kill that shark". Yes, very logical. Very bad scriptwriting.
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Just about everything you've written is a testament to how the modern moviegoer has accepted exposition and shorthand as storytelling, and B movie propositions for A movie ones so long as a lot of money is spent. If you think all we need is to see Goldfinger break a pencil to show he has an ego, then you really don't need a two-hour movie. We can condense it to half an hour and just have them say some obligatory expository lines and then get to the good parts, i.e. spectacle.

    The rat speech is the worst form of expository dialogue because, taking a page from your book, it could have been condensed to one or two lines, right? Why did we need to watch Silva arrive in an elevator and walk slowly into frame? A guy walking and talking -- amazing. Stupendous. Brilliant! Maybe instead they could have just put up a quick New Yorker style cartoon and let us read it for five seconds. Then Silva wouldn't have even have had to give a speech. That would have saved a lot of time for some actual interaction. But Bond, like us, just sits and listens to a speech for, what, minutes? Heck, the camera doesn't even really show us anything else except some servers in an otherwise empty room. Hardly great cinema, except to an audience conditioned by pablum because it looks and sounds "kewl."

    And the scene with Q is not about Q -- it's about Bond. Bond is the ship being towed to the scrap heap in the beating-you-over-the-head metaphor. It's not Q. Q is there to try to dress Bond down as some know-it-all Millennial. If anything, he's just a stereotype of the nerdy punk no one over 35 wants to work with. We find out he's smarmy and arrogant. That's not reinforced in anything as the primary reason for the scene.

    Yep, your tastes run toward the modern. That's fine. You're entitled to your opinion. Some people like filet mignon and some people like ground chuck. That's fine, too, but ground chuck still will never be filet mignon no matter how much people like it or pay for it. You can have your ground chuck, but I'll keep hoping for filet mignon.

    Ah, the erroneously oft-cited Citizen Kane "plot hole." This is what the imdb says about that, and it jibes with things I've heard:

    "In the beginning, Kane says, "Rosebud." The nurse enters the room after the word is spoken. The shooting script only mentions Kane and the nurse being in the room. However, within the movie itself Raymond the butler tells the reporter that he had heard Kane say "Rosebud" after the fight with Susan as well as just before he drops the snow globe, implying that what the viewer is shown in that scene is from Raymond's P.O.V."

    In other words, there is an internal continuity that makes it logical and sensible.

    And of course Brody had to be the one to kill the shark. He's been fighting it all through the movie except from land. The whole point is he has to go to sea -- conquering his fear of the water -- to face the thing on its terms. (Never mind that the second half of the film rips off Moby Dick.) With Skyfall, it's exactly the opposite. Bond is trying to lure Silva to Skyfall -- to fight Silva on Bond's terms. He even says so in the movie. What makes it particularly dumb and illogical is Bond has no plan nor any reason to believe he can accomplish this -- he didn't even expect to see Kincade there. At least Brody had the forethought to hire a shark hunter and a marine biologist to help him. That the tank gave him the opportunity was fortuitous, but then they arrived armed to the teeth for the confrontation, including with Hooper's scuba gear. And, yes, I thought the Skyfall strategy made little sense when I saw it in the theater, and said it to my best friend, who look at me with equal skepticism. Even as we walked out, some people remarked on how it did not make sense. Just bad scriptwriting that got a pass because of the sentimentality of the scene.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    This is epic, guys! B-)
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    Oh, and in terms of the rat scene, yeah, if you want to use long expository dialogue, the way you do it is in voiceover. That's how Diamonds are Forever did it with regard to the explanation of the diamond smuggling and Colonel Smithers' lecture.

    This is how V for Vendetta did it 30 years later:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJK-_UkjR8U

    Voiceovers are often considered weak storytelling -- show the scene by itself. But what's even weaker is a guy walking out of an elevator giving an expository speech.
  • Agent PurpleAgent Purple Posts: 857MI6 Agent
    I guess GM and Virgil are clearly on opposite sides regarding SF.
    "Hostile takeovers. Shall we?"
    New 2020 ranking (for now DAF and FYEO keep their previous placements)
    1. TLD 2. TND 3. GF 4. TSWLM 5. TWINE 6. OHMSS 7. LtK 8. TMWTGG 9. L&LD 10. YOLT 11. DAD 12. QoS 13. DN 14. GE 15. SF 16. OP 17. MR 18. AVTAK 19. TB 20. FRWL 21. CR 22. FYEO 23. DAF (SP to be included later)
    Bond actors to be re-ranked later
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    I guess GM and Virgil are clearly on opposite sides regarding SF.

    I guess you pretty much summed it up AP. :)
  • Gassy ManGassy Man USAPosts: 2,972MI6 Agent
    I am in terms of it being great writing. It has qualities I like, and it's better than Quantum of Solace. But the accolades of "best Bond movie ever" and so forth -- especially as regards the writing -- are hyperbole, in my opinion. Like I said, everyone is entitled to their personal tastes, and some people are just wowed by currency or popularity (and I'm not saying that about Virgil). But I remain unconvinced that Skyfall is greater than a good Bond film. It doesn't even match Casino Royale or any of the Connery era films, and I'd put On Her Majesty's Secret Service in there, too.
  • DigificWriterDigificWriter Posts: 191MI6 Agent
    Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace not only eclipse Skyfall writing-wise, they do so by 150%. SF falls apart after Shanghai, and never really regains its footing on the whole, although there is some good stuff, writing-wise, late in the film (mainly involving Moneypenny, Bond, Q, and Gareth Mallory's M).
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    It has qualities I like, and it's better than Quantum of Solace.
    Here's where WE disagree, GM! I love QOS whereas SF is definitely near the bottom of my rankings. :D
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    Oh, and in terms of the rat scene, yeah, if you want to use long expository dialogue, the way you do it is in voiceover. That's how Diamonds are Forever did it with regard to the explanation of the diamond smuggling and Colonel Smithers' lecture.

    This is how V for Vendetta did it 30 years later:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJK-_UkjR8U

    Voiceovers are often considered weak storytelling -- show the scene by itself. But what's even weaker is a guy walking out of an elevator giving an expository speech.

    A voiceover? really? that's it? and the rat monologue out? It's not just "a guy walking out of an elevator". It's Javier Bardem and his performance, and telling a story that conceals very well its expository nature with a powerful metaphor. Again, thankfully the speech is in the movie.

    The blocking of the scene could have been different, but I like it as it is. You have the audience struggling to see him, and wondering what is he going to do, then slowly revealing him visually as well as through his words. It builds tension effectively.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    the rat monologue out? It's not just "a guy walking out of an elevator". It's Javier Bardem and his performance, and telling a story that conceals very well its expository nature with a powerful metaphor. Again, thankfully the speech is in the movie.

    The blocking of the scene could have been different, but I like it as it is. You have the audience struggling to see him, and wondering what is he going to do, then slowly revealing him visually as well as through his words. It builds tension effectively.
    Personally, I liked the last rat monologue. It was Javier's best moment IMHO. There are way more wrong parts of SF later to be concerned with...
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    Gassy Man wrote:
    I am in terms of it being great writing. It has qualities I like, and it's better than Quantum of Solace. But the accolades of "best Bond movie ever" and so forth -- especially as regards the writing -- are hyperbole, in my opinion. Like I said, everyone is entitled to their personal tastes, and some people are just wowed by currency or popularity (and I'm not saying that about Virgil). But I remain unconvinced that Skyfall is greater than a good Bond film. It doesn't even match Casino Royale or any of the Connery era films, and I'd put On Her Majesty's Secret Service in there, too.

    So in the end, we agree after all. You went from passable script to "not better than a good film", so it's good, which is what I've been saying all along. I would never call SF "the best Bond movie ever". Not by a long shot. But saying it's bad scriptwriting or even passable is not accurate in my opinion. SF is a solid movie, with flaws, but intense as hell. The kind of intensity that can be built only with a solid script. By design, not improvised.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Western Mass, USAPosts: 9,061MI6 Agent
    Virgil37 wrote:
    But saying it's bad scriptwriting or even passable is not accurate in my opinion.
    Oh please Virgil, except for some great dialogue, the writing was standard crap to serve M's ejection from the series. ;)
    Dalton & Connery rule. Brozz was cool.
    #1.TLD/LTK 2.TND 3.GF 4.GE 5.DN 6.FYEO 7.FRWL 8.TMWTGG 9.TWINE 10.YOLT/QOS
  • Virgil37Virgil37 Posts: 1,211MI6 Agent
    chrisisall wrote:
    Virgil37 wrote:
    But saying it's bad scriptwriting or even passable is not accurate in my opinion.
    Oh please Virgil, except for some great dialogue, the writing was standard crap to serve M's ejection from the series. ;)

    Not in my opinion, dear Chrisisall. I reserve the "standard crap" category for...others... ;)
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