London - James Bond is back and better than ever, according to early reviews on Friday, as the latest movie featuring Britain's smooth-talking, martini-drinking super-spy soared with critics and audiences after an advance screening in London.
Newspaper critics rushed to print and celebrities took to Twitter after seeing Skyfall, with many calling it the best Bond film in the franchise's 50-year history.
Reviewer Robbie Collin at British newspaper The Telegraph said director Sam Mendes' Bond was comparable to Christopher Nolan's darker, grittier Batman from the Dark Knight franchise.
"Mendes is unafraid to let the quieter dramatic moments breathe ... and ace cinematographer Roger Deakins makes the wildly ambitious action sequences the most beautiful in Bond's 50-year career," Collin said.
Geoffrey McNab at the Independent gave Skyfall four out of five stars, criticising the film for being "occasionally ... repetitive". But he praised Mendes for "throwing in far greater depth of characterisation than we're accustomed to in a series of films that are often proudly superficial".
Skyfall, the 23rd film in the Bond franchise, opens in UK theaters on 26 Octorber .
It is Mendes' first time directing a Bond film. The British filmmaker won a best director Oscar in 2000 for American Beauty.
The 22 Bond films have to date amassed $5.1bn at the worldwide box office according to The-Numbers.com, which tracks box office performances. The last film, 2008's Quantum of Solace, grossed nearly $600m globally.
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