What’s Next Mr Bond?

Memories of the Spectre film linger into afternoon matinees and Amazon pre-orders as we consider what is happening with the James Bond franchise.

First to Daniel Craig. The ‘will he, won’t he’ of returning for another film will largely depend on Craig. He has been in the role for 10 years and he has said he would rather “slash my wrists” than return. The man has to decide whether he wants to bow out on a high note or head into the Never Say Never Again/A View to a Kill/Die Another Day region that saw veteran Bond actors looking less than capable in the role of the assassin secret agent. Craig has claimed that he is not motivated by money, but when he earned 16 million for Spectre, it might be hard to say no to next pay rise.

Aside Craig returning debates, which ultimately will rest upon Craig, is who could take his place. Alongside the usual actor debate (I already hear Tom Hardy’s name, but I don’t think so) is the addition of whether we should have a black James Bond or a gay James Bond.

We’ve had the young James Bond (Alex Ryder, Kingsmen, Cody Banks), the spoof James Bond (Johnny English, Austin Powers, Get Smart, Spy, I-Spy, The Spy Next Door), the American James Bond (Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne, The Man from UNCLE, Xander Cage (xXx)), married couple James Bond (Mr and Mrs Smith, True Lies, Knight and Day, Duplicity), the family James Bond (Spy Kids), the female James Bond (La Femme Nikita/Nikita, Salt, Charlie’s Angels, Black Widow), the black James Bond (Darrius Stone (xXx), Agent J, Enemy of the State, Undercover Brother, Traitor (Don Cheadle)), old James Bond (RED and RED 2). We have even had female porn star James Bond. Probably more than one. You can look that up for yourself.

Given this broad collage of James Bond characters, I don’t see any reason why it is necessary or even financially viable to mess with the basic format of the character. But that has always been a problem with James Bond, the character is little more than a stereotype and the films a shade above a formula, but then isn’t that why we like them?

The final issue for James Bond’s future is studio negotiations. MGM have finished their contract and now it is time to start again or find a new studio. The details of the situation don’t exactly make for a great narrative although the dealings are probably more complex than any spy story we might encounter. What is interesting is the state of Spectre as a final Craig film.

Spectre certainly offers a rounding off of Bond’s character. He has settled elements of his, secured a long term girlfriend and proved he isn’t just a killing machine. It’s time did happy ever after. Except it can’t be if we want another film. So, either Bobs’s gifriend vets it and he goes off revenge style or they start a double team. The first looks more likely. That is of course if the producers do t go with another a tie which could mean reboot time. 

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Spectre: How did we do?

Spectre spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want the few surprises contained in the film revealed, Do Not click the continue reading (or look at the Wikipedia page—there is a massive spoiler in first line).

Everyone else, did Spectre deliver everything we hoped? (Not sure what we were hoping for? Check here)

Continue reading “Spectre: How did we do?”

Spectre: What are we hoping for?

It’s a Bond film, so we need to start off the staples.

  • A good Bond girl. And what makes a good Bond Girl? Well, firstly, no screamers. Sorry Stacy Sutton from A View to a Kill, you might have been a Playboy pin-up, but you were a poor Bond girl. She need to be able to hold her own with Bond, push him around a bit and be happy to play. I always like a Bond girl villain, distinguishable from the Bond girl by the fact she is bad and usually ends up dead. Hello Xenia Onatopp.
  • A car chase with an Aston Martin. Skyfall spoiled us with the DB5 and it would be too much to ask to have it back indefinitely, so next best thing is a new Aston Martin.
  • Great locations. We accept that rainy London is going to play a part. I can’t see Bond down on Hyde Park in the sun. Instead we want tropical locations, because clearly the sun never shines in England.
  • Secret organisations. Is there any point being a secret agent if you can’t find out secret stuff? Obviously not. SPECTRE, the Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, is great. Looking forward to being introduced to a classic.
  • A great Bond villain. There have been good ones, Blofeld of old, Goldfinger, Trevelyn and there have been bad ones. Remember when Jonathan Pryce was the villainous newspaper man Elliot Carver? I know, I’ve tried to forget as well.
  • The essential Bond characters. We have a new M, Miss Moneypenny, Q and Tanner (Felix is around somewhere). All the gang are back together, now let’s use them without killing them off.

Beyond the Bond formula, what else can we expect and what else do we want?

  • I’d like the beginning of more encounters with Spectre and possibly an origin for Blofeld or a transition to Blofeld. Somewhere along the line, someone forgot Bond films constitute the longest running film franchise. Gone are the days when we were uncertain whether there will be another Bond film. You are going to make another one. So stop planning one film at a time and get with long story. Before film goers were more demanding with regards to narratives, it was easier to string films together. Now, we want a larger more complete film. Unfortunately, this means that you get a secret organisation like Quantum and you kill it in essentially one film. At the start of Quantum of Solace they are everywhere. By the end, we seem to got over that one.
  • Some emotional time with Bond. He need to have a hard time with something, but nothing too much or it gets irrelevant. We need somewhere between the love of his life has been killed and he packed the wrong cufflinks.
  • A complete film. Let’s have a clear threat. It doesn’t need to be apocalyptic (I’m thinking Moonraker extinction of the human race) but it needs to be immediate (starting a war between a couple of countries no one cares about is not immediate). Then resolve the threat. You’ve got two and a half hours. That should be more than enough time.
  • Ohh, and one last one. Don’t kill off Christoph Waltz. That would be a Jack Nicholas in Batman or Harvey Dent in Dark Knight error.

All we need to do now is wait for 26th October and see how we do. Sorry America, you have a little longer to wait.

Interested to see how we did? Check the post-film update.

Spectre Pre-release Anticipation

The New James Bond movie is just over a week away and we have been very excited. There is every evidence that the new movie is an attempt to bring together the new story-telling from Skyfall with the Fleming narratives effectively used in Casino Royale. At worst we are hoping for something better than Quantum of Solace.

Trailers have looked good, clips have boosted our confidence and mysteries created about characters and the nature of Spectre are very reassuring. The Sam Smith theme tune is in place and is growing on me. There is a French Bond girl and the ever amazing Monica Bellucci. Christop Waltz never fails to impress. The Aston Martin looks great and the presence of Andrew Scott in a very Moriarty style role looks interesting. At just under 2 and half hours, it is the longest Bond film and I’m not sure that is a good thing. It is, however, something a little different and when it comes to Bond we are after a little bit of the same and a little bit different.

So, time to get measured up for the tux and order the martini.

Kaboom on the big screen: Flops, Disasters and Bombs

Everyone loves a disaster, except when you’ve paid fifteen bucks to sit in an uncomfortable room with too much trash on the floor and too many people eating too much popcorn. If you want to know the top ten box office bombs, check out Wikipedia, they even have the contentious box office revenue formula that means a film loses money if it takes in more money than it cost.
Unfortunately for films, the bottom line is the dollar sign. There are few other art forms when the revenue made is such an important sign of success or failure. It is only really films where profits are advertised so freely. Books can be bestsellers and music top of the charts without specific details of profits being advertised.
As a concept, the blockbuster throws millions of dollars at a movie with the expectation that a mere 25% profit will run into hundreds of millions of dollars. When that profit doesn’t appear we have some of the most interesting cultural and creative scenarios around. We have Disney disasters, good ideas poorly delivered, comic book catastrophes, Tarantino pet-projects and supernatural martial art KOs.

47 Ronin (2013)
A big budget supernatural martial arts film set in the time of the samurai starring Keanu Reeves. What is most interesting here is the box office fluctuations of Keanu Reeves. The year before 47 Ronin, Reeves starred in the smaller budget Man of Tai Chi which only took in a fifth of its budget. The next year, the budget of 47 Ronin was ten times Man of Tai Chi. The year after 47 Ronin, Reeves starred in John Wick. Obviously someone learned a lesson and with a budget a 10% the size of 47 Ronin and John Wick made double 47 Ronin.

Continue reading “Kaboom on the big screen: Flops, Disasters and Bombs”

Spectre: Franz Oberhauser

Franz Oberhauser? Who? No, not the singer of the new Bond theme, but close.

Franz Oberhauser appears to be the main protagonist for the new Spectre film, but what do we actually know about the character? Very little apart from the fact he is played by Christoph Waltz and he is the villain of the film.

Waltz has claimed that he is not Ernest Stavro Blofeld, the infamous number 1 of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). Despite Waltz’s track record of playing villains, I am tempted to believe his character is not Ernest Stavro Blofeld, in this film. Which is to suggest a couple of important ideas:

  • Number 1: that Blofeld does not appear in this film and the next film will continue in a similar way that Quantum of Solace continued to from Casino Royale. A hint of this is given with the appearance of the Quantum representative Mr White from the first two films.
  • Number 2: that Waltz’s character is not Blofeld yet. Do not forget that classic Donald Pleasence Blofeld had a nasty scar across his face. Could Oberhauser play a character who becomes Blofeld? In Fleming’s account of Blofeld, the character was initially employed by the Polish government and when war arrived, he destroyed all evidence of his existence. Are we being set up for a similar transformation that is going to move us into Daniel Craig’s fifth (and possibly final Bond film?).
    Unless we have a massive script leak in the next few months, we will need to wait until November to know for certain. However, there are a few important pieces of information we can gleam from the Spectre trailer.

Waltz’s character is not a good guy. Sitting at the head of the long table, in the dark surrounded by well-dressed individuals either suggests he is a bad guy or it is his birthday party and it’s time to sing. My money is on the bad guy option. Although I like the sound of a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday Franz Oberhauser.”

Bond PhotoThere is a childhood connection. The burnt photography with a teenage Bond and another boy with a missing face suggests that the identity of a bad guy is being hidden. What? Another reason he is a bad guy? Finally, Oberhauser’s comment:
“Welcome James, it’s been a long time and finally here we are.” Sounds a little ominous.

It’s still a long time until November, in the meantime we have a couple of clips to get us in the mood for some Bond.

Day of the Dead Opening Scene:

Car chase through streets of Rome

Latest Spectre Trailer

If you haven’t heard (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t have heard) the next James Bond film is called Spectre and will be released this year, as is tradition for James Bond films, in November.  A second, slightly longer teaser trailer has been released featuring the new Aston Martin DB10 (the car has been made specially for the film). Bond looks like he is hanging out in the Eyes Wide Shit (oops was that a typo?) mansion (fingers crossed Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman don’t turn up naked–it would certainly dampen my James Bond enthusiasm).

Monica Belluci makes a steamy appearance. If you don’t remember Belluci watch her ten minutes in The Matrix reloaded. Andrew Scott (remember him as Moriarty in the Cumberbatch Sherlock) will be a villain, possibly an MI6 agents (maybe a Trevelyan character, see Goldeneye).

Christoph Waltz claims he’s not Ernst Stavro Blofeld despite sitting in the villain chair looking very much like number one. Apparently, Walt’s character is called Franz Oberhauser, the son of Bond’s ski instructor and father figure after his parents are killed. I’m not buying that given the villain chair scenario.

All in all, a good looking trailer.

Quick background: Spectre is the criminal organization created by Ian Fleming for his 8th James Bond novel Thunderball in 1961. It stands for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion and has a nice octopus symbol.

Now, time to watch the trailer.