Skyfall was a well-made action-drama with an appreciation for character depth and some breathtaking visuals. It had the requisite tense and frenetic opening scene, the insane and frightening and slightly gay evil mastermind, and several nail-biting moments along the way.
The 50th Anniversary of Bond films was recognized almost aggressively during the course of the movie, with a handful of references, icons and characters from past films. They were made in ways that winked to the knowledge of those in the know without confusing or losing relative newbies to the Bond brand.
Skyfall earned a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an overwhelming number of critics gushing about the film.
So why did I walk out of the theater feeling disappointed? First I was disappointed, and then I was mad at myself for being so damn picky.
Same thing happened in The Dark Knight Rises. I’d built up the (mostly justifiable) belief that Christopher Nolan could do no wrong, was as close to infallible as a modern-era director has ever been, taking each uptick in budget and scope and never seeming to bat an eye at the challenge.
Such is the natural course of things, the unfair road of time and experience. At no point in the journey can we go backward. Worse, there comes a point in that road where the reward for honing one’s tastes and opinions feels vastly more like a punishment, like an overexposure.
Few of life’s pleasures -- and fewer still of its vices -- are immune from this effect. We either need more of it to give us the same level of pleasure, or we get pickier about the quality. From Keystone Light to high-end craft porters and stouts. From Franzia (preferably not up the butt) to aged merlot.
As a kid, I thought The Cat From Outer Space was a funny movie. Hilarious, in fact. I recorded and watched the Gawd-awful Runaway starring Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons and Looker with Albert Finney (Albert &#@*^ FINNEY!!) over until my eyes practically bled. Far more than half the movies I thought deserved immortality back when I was a kid and a teenager feel beyond torpid to me now. I’d be ashamed of my tastes if I didn’t have a semi-fair sense of my childhood and younger tastes.
When I was 23 and living alone, pinching pennies in a small town, I bided time reading and renting movies from a place that offered “3 for $1.” The selection wasn’t dreamy, but I didn’t care if it ate time while I munched on ham sandwiches or angel hair pasta. Even the crappy movies were tolerable (I’m talking to you, Cutthroat Island!).
Lately, it’s getting tougher to predict my own pop culture tastes, although they’re certainly getting more refined. The sheen of major network TV is getting tougher to enjoy, and the various series feel like the TV equivalent of Britney Spears or One Direction. Once in a while, I’ll give something from the major networks a try and quickly overdose on the sugar rush and the ridiculous level of predictability.
While I can’t trumpet The Walking Dead for it’s plot or acting quality (because both often suck), there’s something deliciously gritty and rebellious about it, the TV version of The White Stripes or Sebadoh. While I can’t dare claim Pandorum was as good a flick as Skyfall, it mined a particularly appealing topic for me -- sci-fi post-apocalyptic zombie mutant movies with lesser-known actors I love (Ben Foster)!! -- and therefore gives me a different kind of joy.
So, dear reader, is it just me? Have you found your tastes mutating or getting pickier as you age? Or do you still love a good episode of Beavis and Butthead?