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The latest James Bond "Skyfall" premiered in Beijing on Wednesday, with Daniel Craig appearing via video link. The major production has thus far already raked in US$1 billion at box offices worldwide.
"Skyfall" is the 23rd James Bond film and was directed by Sam Mendes. In this story, rather than saving the world, Bond has to deal with some internal affairs such as fighting the antagonist Raoul Silva, formerly one of the top MI6 operatives for MI6; protecting Judi Dench, portraying M for the very last time, from humiliation, discredit and Silva's revenge for betraying him in earlier years.
The nostalgic film is quite old-school. Instead of showing off dazzling the typical modern Bond high-tech spy equipment, ultimate cars or scenes of elaborate fights and explosions, the film explores Bond's struggle with pain and age and his relationship with his boss M. Much to her credit, Dench had brilliantly played the part of M in the previous six Bond films.
As a farewell to the role, the leading actor Daniel Craig at the premiere replied that Dench was his favorite when asked which Bond girl he had liked best most in his three 007 movies.
"It's very difficult to answer this without offending anybody," he said, "I have my own particular favorite among them, the very beautiful Judi Dench, she is probably THE Bond girl, and always will be."
Mendes definitely took some inspiration from "The Dark Knight" by Christopher Nolan. From the Joker-styled villain Silva played by Javier Bardem to the struggle of the most famous agent of them all. During an interview with The Playlist, director Mendes mentioned "The Dark Knight" as direct influence on his approach to the 007 movie.
"In terms of what Nolan achieved, specifically 'The Dark Knight,' the second movie, what that achieved, is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody..." he said, "That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without 'The Dark Knight, might not have been possible."
In the film, there are two significant and beautiful night scenes shot in China's buzzing Shanghai and Macao, which are believed to surely please Chinese audiences. While it indicates Bond is on important missions there, Craig said he actually shot these scenes in the UK.
"I have been to Shanghai and Beijing in the past," he said, "but in this movie, because of the way the movie is shot, I didn't actually go to Shanghai or to Macao. We faked it. I shot most of my stuff in London. But I enjoyed my time in both Beijing and Shanghai."
"Skyfall" hit screens just as the Bond series celebrates its 50th anniversary. It was positively received by both critics and the box office since its release, becoming the 14th film as well as the first Bond film to cross the US$1 billion mark worldwide.
It is thus far the 11th highest grossing film of all time and has become the highest-grossing film in the UK, the highest-grossing film in the 007 series, the highest-grossing film worldwide for both Sony Pictures and MGM and the third highest-grossing film of 2012. The film is nominated for five Academy Awards, eight British Academy Film Awards and won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song for Adele's theme song of the same title.
"I hope the Bond series will last for another 50 years... not with me," Craig said at Beijing premiere, "I hope it will last for a long time. I think the truth is the movies have always been event movies, exciting, fun to watch and always been about the audiences, more than anything else, and I think that gives them longevity."
"James Bond is, we try to remain firmly in the world of fantasy, a character that doesn't really exist in the real world," he added, "but I think for all of us having the idea that there's a hero who can save us all, it's a universal feeling. James Bond has an individuality that we filmmakers try to bring back to this movie."
When Silva asks Bond what his hobby is, Bond replies, "Resurrection." Bond rises at last. The newly introduced roles such as Q, played by Ben Whishaw, Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris, and Gareth Mallory, 007's new boss played by Ralph Fiennes, indicate the film franchise will enter a new era and witness the return of recurring characters to the series after an absence in the past two films.
"Skyfall" will be widely released in China on Jan. 21, and the added box office income from China will surely help its total global earnings further surpass those of the currently second highest-grossing film of 2012, "The Dark Knight Rises," which grossed US$1.08 billion.
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