SPECTRE (2015)

SpectrePosthumously ordered to Mexico by the previous M (Judi Dench) to kill Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona), James Bond (Daniel Craig) uncovers a secret organisation that connects Quantum and the deceased cyberterrorist Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). He infiltrates a meeting of SPECTRE in Rome, following a tip-off from Sciarra’s widow (Monica Bellucci), where he is introduced to the group’s leader, Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Henchman Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) is dispatched to take care of Bond, stalking him all the way to Austria — to the workplace of Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), who 007 has promised to protect in exchange for Oberhauser’s location. With Bond AWOL, and both Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) suspected of aiding and abetting his illicit investigations, M (Ralph Fiennes) finds himself in conflict with C (Andrew Scott), who wants to disband the 00 programme as part of a controversial reform of the secret service that will see MI5 and MI6 merged to form a Joint Intelligence Service.

The James Bond film series is a mess, and always has been. Spanning over fifty years and twenty-four movies it has seen the lead role re-cast, the creative team replaced, and the narrative revised so often that James Bond now exists more as an icon than a character. It is this iconography that holds the series together, so that a Bond movie is as identifiable for containing a Bond girl and a Bond villain as it is for featuring Bond himself – heck, the main character has to introduce himself at the outset of every movie just so that the audience knows who is on this particular occasion supposed to be playing him. This formula has produced a number of memorable adventures, but the repetitiveness has made it predictable and over time this has rendered it rote. There is no character development, no narrative progression, no end in sight, just an apparently endless succession of explosions and innuendo that can sometimes stimulate but can rarely satisfy.

It is for this reason that Sam Mendes’ Skyfall — EON’s twenty-third production — was such a success, both critically and commercially. Tasked with celebrating fifty years of Bond, Mendes was really the first director to sit down and think about who the character is or where the series might be going. Even the fact that he was ostensibly operating in a rebooted timeline barely two films old couldn’t stop him from producing the most engaging and comprehensive Bond movie in decades — one that was both emotionally resonant and culturally significant. Skyfall simultaneously operated both within and outwith the series’ established continuity, referencing previous adventures while reinstating fan favourite characters who were nevertheless unknown to Bond. This allowed Mendes to comment on or even slyly mock established tropes while also hitting all of the usual marks. It was at once a standalone adventure and a distillation of everything the series stood for; in many ways it was the definitive Bond movie, and may either have been used to bring one of cinemas longest running sagas to a triumphant conclusion or stand it in good stead to see out the rest of the century.

Obviously, there was little chance that Sony was going to retire one of its most celebrated and lucrative tentpoles, and the existence of SPECTRE shows that of the two options it was going to go with the latter. To the film’s credit, it approaches the idea that James Bond has to adapt to survive head on: Andrew Scott’s character explicitly questions the relevance and validity of the 00 programme in the 21st Century, and spearheads a Joint Intelligence Programme that favours surveillance over espionage. Unfortunately, however, it stops at lip-service, and rather than reach for new horizons the film — as its name suggests — resurrects an organisation that hasn’t been seen onscreen since 1971 to concern itself with instead. Mendes, who after much convincing agreed to return for SPECTRE, is clearly aware of his film’s shortcomings, but having killed M off at the end of Skyfall he is no longer able to refocus attention away from narrative inconsistencies and onto the characters. He overcompensates, contriving to retcon a shared history between Bond and his latest antagonist, but it is neither as convincing or as compelling as the relationship he once had with M. Realistically speaking SPECTRE may only be as incomprehensible as half the other films in the series (it’s certainly as stylish), but after Skyfall it feels all the more inconsequential.

In an age of shared universes and multimedia storytelling, Bond really is beginning to show his age. Like Skyfall, SPECTRE may continue to mirror and directly reference past events (though a fight on a train and a video tape labelled Vespa barely registers as fan-service at a time where Marvel is cross-pollinating between sub-franchises and Fox is commissioning films with the express intention of reinstating some semblance of continuity) but it doesn’t have the same focus or sense of purpose as its predecessor — it confuses matters when it should be clarifying them. Rather than use Skyfall as a jumping off point for new adventures or dynamics, SPECTRE feels more like an epilogue, an after-party, or perhaps just a hangover. The franchise hasn’t been renewed, it’s outstayed its welcome. The suitably stand-out Day of the Dead sequence might have been more than a prelude; it may have been a premonition.

2-stars

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2013: Five Films The Oscars Forgot

Announced this afternoon by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone, the nominations for eleven of the 85th Annual Academy Awards paid dividends to many of the years best films, filmmakers and — in some ways, at least — its filmgoers, too.

While the likes of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi and David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook reigned supreme — with Zero Dark Thirty, The Master and Les Misérables also scoring multiple nominations each — there were a number of notable omissions too.

Here, then, are five of the most heinous:

Cloud Atlas

2013 Cloud AtlasDismissed by critics and now forgotten by the Academy, Cloud Atlas was both a remarkable adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel of the same name and an acheivement in special effects. Using the same pool of actors — including Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess — to tell a number of very distinct stories, the film largely overcame its flaws to become something of a triumph. At the very least, it deserved recognition in the Make-Up And Hairstyling (where it would still stand a head and shoulders above its competition), and perhaps Best Adapted Screenplay, too.

Rise Of The Guardians

2013 Rise Of The GuardiansThe latest feature film from DreamWorks Animation, Rise Of The Guardians combined the considerable talents of producer Guillermo del Toro, cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Alexandre Desplat to produce one of the finest animated films of the year. Not only was it slighted in the Best Animated Film Category (persumably to make room for the hollow Wreck-It Ralph and underwhelming Brave), but the sublime score also went unrecognised as Desplat was instead nominated for his work on Argo — a score I am having a fair amount of trouble remembering.

Skyfall

2013 SkyfallWhile unlike everything else included in this list Skyfall did pick up a few nominations — namely for best cinematography and best original song — it was still slighted in a number of other categories. Not only would it have made a worthy addition to the Best Feature Film category (where it could have rounded the list up to an even ten), but Dame Judi Dench was left out of the Best Supporting Actress category, despite her excellent work on the series as a whole and her superb performance in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall in particular.

Killer Joe

2013 Killer JoeI could have just as easily included Magic Mike or The Paperboy here, as it’s Matthew McConaughey who was this year slighted by the Acedemy. Not only was each film very good (especially by his own standards), but he managed to steal each from each and every one of his co-stars. Killer Joe boasted some truly remarkable performances, but each paled in comparison to McConaughey’s watershed performance as the titular gun-for-hire. God love Alan Arkin, but his Oscar-nominated turn in Argo doesn’t even begin to compare.

The Imposter

2013 The ImposterOf all the oversights, injustices and slights of today’s announcements (let’s not forget that even The Dark Knight Rises — and most of anything else for that matter — holds less nominations than Snow White And The Huntsman), the most difficult to swallow is the lack of love for Bart Layton’s The Imposter. A truly astonishing documentary that played just as well as a traditional thriller as it did a piece of investigative filmmaking, The Imposter was one of the best and most memorably releases of the year. That it didn’t get a nod for Best Documentary is genuinely inconceivable.

Films of the Year – 2012

If there was one word to best sum up 2012 in film, chances are it would be “disappointing”.

Everything seemed to disappoint this year, whether it was Ridley Scott’s muddled Prometheus, Christopher Nolan’s nonsensical The Dark Knight Rises or Peter Jackson’s endless The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Of course, when anything is as hyped as these tent-pole releases tend to be, they are unlikely to ever meet audience’s towering expectations, let alone surpass them. They are only films after all.

But when you look back over the cinematic landscape of 2012, it is surprising just how many movies came close, or bypassed hype altogether. Here, then, are my films of the year.

10. Ill Manors

10. ill ManorsConsidering that I dislike gangster movies, hate rap and have only the basest understanding of who Ben Drew actually is, I think it’s safe to say that I was not expecting to like Ill Manors. In actual fact, the movie is one of the most powerful and affecting of any I have seen this year, with an array of incredible performances and unforgettable characters weaving the various plot threads into one heart-stopping whole.

9. Rise Of The Guardians

9. Rise Of The GuardiansWhile Pixar continue to fall from grace at a pretty staggering pace, DreamWorks Animation have been steadily rising from the ashes ever since they laid Shrek to rest. While Madagascar 3 entertained and impressed, it was November’s Rise Of The Guardians that showed the full extent of the studios abilities. Like 2010’s triumphant How To Train Your Dragon, Guardians combines the talents of a master filmmaker, a celebrated cinematographer and an accomplished composer to truly dazzling effect.

8. The Imposter

8. The ImposterHaving unfortunately missed The Imposter at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, I eventually caught up with it later in the year — and I’m incredibly glad that I did. Treating the true story at its centre like a bona fide thriller, director Bart Layton ramps up the tension to near-unbearable levels as the unfolding events continue to get stranger and stranger. It is not only the story itself, but the expert combination of archive footage, talking heads and dramatisation that set this apart of any other documentary released this year.

7. A Dangerous Method

7. A Dangerous MethodFor many, 2012 has been something of a lackluster year for David Cronenberg. Removed from the body horror from which he has made his name, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis were far more cerebral affairs that many found turgid and uninvolving. I found A Dangerous Method to be anything but, as a triad of amazing performances from Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender bring to life one of the most interesting and important relationships in all of science.

6. Skyfall

6. SkyfallAfter twenty-two months and twenty-two Bonds, I was all but ready to put Ian Fleming’s secret agent behind me. After the forced fierceness of Casino Royale and its infamous footnote Quantum Of Solace, the franchise had apparently run out of steam just in time for its fiftieth anniversary. Not so, as it happens. Instead, Sam Mendes has produced the definitive Bond movie, one that does away with the threads left dangling at the end of the previous film, re-embraces the various series tropes and sets the scene for what looks to be a bright and brilliant future.

5. The Paperboy

5. The PaperboyI realise that Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy is not slated for UK release until March of next year, but I couldn’t help include it as one of my own cinematic highlights of 2012. A scuzzy and slightly surreal crime drama that puts the case of a potentially innocent prisoner in the hands of the Jensen brothers (as played by Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron), The Paperboy is a film that really must be seen to be believed. Not only will it change forever the way that you look at its leading men, but it coaxes a career-best performance from Nicole Kidman and a turn from John Cusack that suggests that he might even be able to act.

4. ParaNorman

4. ParaNormanFrom Laika, the studio that brought us 2009’s Coraline, ParaNorman is one of three stop-motion animations (and, incidentally, three Halloween-themed children’s movies) released this year. It is also the fourth best film of 2012. Combining a great voice cast, a witty script and some surprisingly adult subtext, ParaNorman goes far beyond simply being a great animated children’s movie. It’s just a shame that more people didn’t see it.

3. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble

3. The AvengersWhile the surprisingly staid opening twenty minutes might rob Marvel’s Avengers Assemble of first and second place, the remaining two-and-a-bit hours are so utterly wonderful that it ceases to be a problem. Uniting four separate film series into one mega-franchise, Marvel have potentially revolutionised the way blockbusters are made. The most fun that you are likely to have in the cinema this year, Joss Whedon’s film (the third highest-grossing OF ALL TIME) showcases the superhero genre at its very best.

2. Life  Of Pi

2. Life Of PiAng Lee — never one to back away from a challenge — this year filmed the unfilmable to bring cinema audience Life Of Pi, the astonishing story of a young Indian boy stranded at sea with a Bengal tiger. Although it has (rightfully) made headlines for its luscious visuals and unparalleled use of  3D, it is the films core narrative — along with its meditations on life, faith and nature — that make it such a resounding success. Oscars take note, newcomer Suraj Sharma delivers the year’s best performance as Piscine Molitor Patel: Christian, Hindu, Muslim, survivor.

1. Chronicle

1. ChronicleWhile Joss Whedon’s The Avengers combines smarts, spectacle and spirit in what must surely be the ultimate superhero movie, Chronicle‘s Josh Trank takes a different track with his own super-powered teens. A low-budget, found-footage genre piece, Chronicle instead focuses on the relationship between two contrasting cousins following their inexplicable acquisition of telekinetic abilities. Darker even than Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Trank’s film — written with verve by Max Landis — is also moving, funny, inspiring, entertaining, honest, insightful, brave, disturbing and utterly, utterly compelling.

11. The Hunger Games 12. The Cabin In The Woods 13. Grabbers 14. Cloud Atlas 15. The Amazing Spider-man 16. Margaret 17. Dredd 18. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower 19. Premium Rush 20. Liberal Arts

Popcorn Addict’s 2012: Best On-screen Chemistry

Best On Screen Chemistry 2012

As the British Independent Film Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Awards this week demonstrated, award season is already underway, a whole three months before it will reach its sparkly zenith in the 85th Academy Awards on February 25th, 2013.

While the likes of Berberian Sound Studio, The Master, Armour and Zero Dark Thirty are already being honoured for their perceived achievements in direction, cinematography and sound design, however, other films are again being left out by categories that seem to skim over other, equally worthy accomplishments in feature filmmaking.

After all, what was the most fun you had at the cinema this year? Was it appreciating excellent feats of editing? Perhaps you enjoyed a particular use of lighting? Or was the highlight of your year to do with a cinematographer’s frisson for framing? I’m not saying these are not important contributing factors, but there are other things I remember more than a well-designed costume.

As such, this month I will be running my own categories, featuring five nominees and one winner of my own choosing. First up is Best On-Screen Chemistry, because how are you supposed to care about a particular friendship, familial bond or relationship if the actors on-screen do not care about it themselves.

Kelly MacDonald and Emma Thompson – Brave

I had a number of problems with this year’s Pixar release — be it the frankly wasted supporting cast, the horribly jarring Julie Fowlis soundtrack or the sudden, slightly anticlimactic resolution — but there’s no denying that Brave delivered where it really mattered: a touching and untraditional (for Hollywood at least) central relationship between a mother and daughter. While both vocal performances are worthy of individual acclaim, together they resulted in one of the most moving maternal bonds this (or any other) year has had to offer. Not bad for a kid’s cartoon, even if we are talking about the same animation studio that brought us Toy Story 2 and Wall.E.

Alex Russell and Dane DaHaan Chronicle

With so many superhero movies slated for release in 2012, writer Max Landis and director Josh Trank were always going to have to deliver something pretty special if they were going to stand up to the likes of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and DC’s The Dark Knight Rises. While the found footage gave it some novelty and the low-budget special effects gave it its edge, it was really the relationship (and relationship breakdown) shared between its three leads that made it such a blockbuster breakthrough. In particular, the turbulent kinship of Russell’s confident Matt and DeHaan’s insecure Matthew was one of the most engaging, well observed and ultimately tragic of this year.

Daniel Craig and Judi Dench Skyfall

For fifty years now James Bond has been painted as a suited, suave, slightly simple secret agent, who is by and largely as woefully undeveloped as he was when he first hit the screen in Dr. No. While each actor has brought his own air to the character, only Daniel Craig has really bothered to breathe some back-story into 007. With Quantum Of Solace well and truly sullying the memory of Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, Sam Mendes was going to struggle to find a Bond girl worthy of such a momentous outing. In pairing Craig not with some leggy starlet but with the wonderful Judi Dench, Skyfall was finally able to explore some new — and actually interesting — facets of Bond’s psyche.

Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill 21 Jump Street

Good comedy is hard to pull off, as Adam Sandler and Kevin James have spent the entirety of their careers trying to demonstrate. In order to make the jokes work, they have to be grounded in something approaching a recognisable scenario, otherwise they can’t succeed in subverting  audience expectations. That last sentence makes it all the more surprising for me to admit that this relatively short list of successful examples now includes a situation in which Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops at a local high school, in a reboot of a 1987 TV series no less. The truth is, however, that both Hill and Tatum display some hitherto unforeseen comedy-chops in what turned out to be one of the funniest films of the year.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone  The Amazing Spider-man

There have been few cinematic pleasures this year quite as delightful as the blossoming romance between Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy. While The Avengers went for goofy humour and The Dark Knight Rises opted once again for Nolan’s now trademark monotone seriousness, Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-man did something relatively novel for a superhero movie: it charmed the pants off of almost everybody who saw it. While Webb delivered on the stunts and turned in a story that was at the very least comprehensible, the relationship he directed between Garfield and Stone elevated the film to something much more than the cynical reboot of a decade-old superhero movie it was always presumed to be. Considering that one of the most iconic moments from Sam Raimi’s original was an upside-down kiss in the rain, it is all the more impressive that Garfield and Webb’s incarnation of the titular-webslinger now feels so utterly definitive.

And the award goes to: The Amazing Spider-man

The Worst of 2012: Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Savages

November 2012 – Welcome to Scotland!

If you had asked me what the traffic on my blog would be like five weeks into my stay in Syktyvkar, it is unlikely I would have quoted double digits. It is a little underwhelming, therefore, to have witnessed my readership grow during what is essentially a self-imposed exile from the very focus of this blog: my popcorn addiction.

Admittedly, it has been something of a failed experiment, what with seven cinema trips (and a fair few kernals) under my new Russian belt. Far from removing myself from film long enough to reappraise my life — and, as the title of my new blog suggests, find a niche — I have found myself re-evaluating film as I am forced to watch it in a new, purely visual manner.

One surprising result of this forced dismissal of dialogue is that I have enjoyed every single movie that I have gone to see. Unable to judge performances, evaluate scripts or — in one case at least — even follow the plot, the viewing experience has become just that: an appreciation of flair and framing. It turns out that even Twilight is quite fun to look at.

This November, then, was spent marvelling at Wreck-It Ralph (and it’s show-stopping opening short), being constantly wrong-footed by The Paperboy, completely enamoured with Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, baffled by the Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas, in the mighty grip of Argo and laughing along to Breaking Dawn: Part 2. The film which I enjoyed most, however, was Rise of the Guardians, a movie which cements DreamWork Animation’s place at the forefront of contemporary computer animation.

From snowy Syktyvkar, I was also given the opportunity to interview Marius Holst, the Norwegian director of the equally stark King Of Devil’s Island. Kind enough to reply to a number of my questions, he discussed the film’s arduous shoot, the warm reception it has received at film festivals the world over and phenomenal performances at its heart.

Due home just before Christmas, I should be able to catch up on at least some of the more glaring omissions (including a full review of Skyfall for BlogalongaBond). In the meantime, however, you can keep up with my reactions from the Rublik cinema as I take in as many films as possible between my duties at the school.

To be continued…

Film of the month: Rise of the Guardians

Reactions from the Rublik: Wreck-It Ralph, The Paperboy, Skyfall

Reluctant to retire my popcorn addiction while in Syktyvkar, the capital city of the Komi Republic, I have instead decided to brave my local multiplex, кинотеатр Рублик, both in a bid to sate my appetite for film and to (hopefully) improve my grasp of the Russian language while I’m at it. Unable to keep my comments to myself, however, I have published my reactions here.

Obviously such reviews aren’t to be taken too seriously, as I am unable to comment fully on the actors’ performances or the film’s script, having likely only understood around 5% of the total dialogue. As such, you won’t find any star ratings here. Regardless, I was still be able to enjoy each of the releases I’ve seen so far — albeit in a solely visual manner — and therefore have something to say about each.

The latest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Wreck-It Ralph (Ральф) tells the story of a disillusioned video game villain (John C. Reilly) who — tired of losing out to arch-nemesis Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) — decides to try his luck elsewhere. With game-play effected by Ralph’s continued absence, however, Felix and his friends risk reprogramming when the repairman comes to reset the game.

It’s been a great year for animation, with Disney-Pixar facing stronger competition than ever from rival studios DreamWorks, Aardman and Laika. Here, they face opposition from within, as the House of Mouse delivers one of its strongest theatrical releases in recent years. Boasting crowd-pleasing cameos from gaming icons and bolstered by some very inventive 3D animation, Wreck-It Ralph is a delight from start to finish, even if it is still somewhat outdone by the short film that precedes it.

Provoking polarised reaction from critics at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, The Paperboy (Газетчик) finds brothers Ward (Matthew McConaughey) and Jack Jansen (Zac Efron) attempting to exonerate a man on death row. Lead by Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), a beautiful woman who has fallen in love with the convict through a prolonged correspondence, the investigation falls into trouble when Jack decides he wants for her himself.

Adapted from Pete Dexter’s novel of the same name, Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy is a wonderfully scuzzy affair that will likely do away with McConaughey and Efron’s heartthrob images for good, while drawing a star turn from Kidman that is as ugly as it is great. From its slow-burn, sweat-drenched beginnings to its surprisingly tense and twisted finale, this is a story that will defy just about every expectation you dare to develop.

After twenty-two months spent in the company of 007 for BlogalongaBond, I was never going to let a slight language barrier get in the way of my latest slice of spy. When a hard drive containing the names of undercover NATO agents is stolen from MI6, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is dispatched to bring it back before it can fall into the wrong hands. Despite being apparently killed in the ensuing struggle, he nevertheless returns from the grave to protect M (Judi Dench) from a cyber-terrorist who is out for revenge.

Wisely ditching the left-over narrative threads from Quantum of Solace, franchise newcomer Sam Mendes winds the story in for one of the most intimate and personal outings of the series. Exquisitely lensed by cinematographer Roger Deakins, Skyfall (Скайфолл) sees Craig’s Bond give up the gadgets, girls and gallivanting as he returns to his Scottish roots, taking Dench with him for her own safety. Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and next-big-thing Ben Whishaw round out one of the series’ strongest casts to date, while Thomas Newman deftly tackles the film’s score.

Should you wish, you can also read about my other, non-cinematic experiences of Russia here.

October 2012 – Only penguins and people can drive

You may have noticed, eagle-eyed reader (as by now there is surely only one of you), that I haven’t posted anything in around a week. Suspicions might have first been aroused when this month’s edition of BlogalongaBond went up whole days before the last minute, but there simply hasn’t been the time to keep Popcorn Addiction up-to-date.

I did, however, still manage to squeeze in a few of October’s releases. I enjoyed The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, jumped out of my seat at Sinister and laughed almost constantly throughout Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. I was also finally able to catch up with Bart Layton’s The Imposter, a truly gripping documentary that I had sadly missed at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, for which there simply aren’t enough exclamation points on the planet.

Considerably less impressive were the likes of Resident Evil: Retribution (the first in the series that I have actively disliked) Killing Them Softly (a film I simply failed to connect with) and Ruby Sparks (a surprisingly dark drama that was ruined by a nonsensical final twist). While I’m tempted to include On The Road, I don’t quite feel enough animosity to write it off completely.

Finally, I ended the month (well, the third week of the month) with Quantum of Solace, the last instalment of the James Bond franchise before Skyfall. Unfortunately, I will have left for Russia days before the film’s release, meaning that my experience of blogging along to Bond isn’t quite over just yet (though I do have a rather brilliant review, courtesy of alongcameaginge). I hear it’s excellent, however, and look forward to catching up with it on DVD. Who knows, it might even dislodge The World Is Not Enough from my own top spot.

While I will try to keep abreast of the latest news and reviews (I live in hope that Rise of the Guardians will be screening in Syktyvkar), I cannot guarantee new content until just after Christmas. Should you wish to see how I fare writing about things other than films, however, you can keep up with my foreign exploits here.

As ever, thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing you back here in December. Yes, you.

Film of the month: The Imposter

Guest Post: Skyfall (2012)

For fifty years now, 007 has entertained us with his antics, action and not just a little bit of skirt-wrangling. Skyfall sees Daniel Craig take on the role of Bond for the third time and promises to deliver another hefty dose of explosions, breath-taking locations, strong Bond-trademarked musical scores, suspense and crazy villains. All the reasons we keep coming back for more!

But did the much anticipated (and much delayed) Bond number 23 live up to my high expectations? Read on to find out.

Read more of this post

FILM NEWS: Mendes shows off Skyfall while Craig shows off his issues

While this blog’s dealings with 007 are usually limited to last minute, end-of-month contributions to Incredible Suit‘s franchise-spanning BlogalongaBond, I could’t help taking to the keyboard with news that the first teaser for twenty-third instalment Skyfall is now online.

The film, which already looks infinitely better than 2008’s unintelligible Quantum of Solace, sees aspersions cast on James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) loyalty to M (Dame Judi Dench) when secrets from her past come to light. The footage itself can be seen below:

Taking in Turkey (the setting of the film’s pre-titles sequence), Japan, the highlands of Scotland and MI6’s headquarters in London, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall also stars Ralph Fiennes as Mallory, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny Eve and Javier Bardem as the film’s primary antagonist, “more than a villain” Raoul Silva.

Anyway, you didn’t bring your eyes all the way here for words; no, you’re here to watch the back of Bond and M’s heads as they stare at a hill. All yours!

I suppose this means that the end is sight. With 16 Bond films down and only the Brosnan and Craig eras to go, it really doesn’t feel as though we have long to wait at all. In the meantime, however, you can expect my Golden Eye review in the next few days.

Skyfall is scheduled for release on 26 October, 2012.