Tagged: Daniel Craig

Spectre Stalks Home VIdeo with February 9 Release

Spectre bluray coverLOS ANGELES, CA (January 5, 2016) –The 24th James Bond adventure SPECTRE, from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, will be available to own on Digital HD™ January 22, and  on Blu-ray™ & DVD February 9 it was announced today by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Taking in more than $850 million (USD) worldwide, SPECTRE dominated the worldwide box-office making it one of the most successful Bond movies ever, shattering records in nearly every market it was released, led by a historic performance in the UK.  The latest installment from one of the longest-running film franchises in history gives fans never-before shared insight into the complexities that made James Bond the man he is today.

In SPECTRE, a cryptic message from the past sends James Bond (Daniel Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.

As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.

Sam Mendes returns to direct SPECTRE, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as 007 for the fourth time. The film is produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.  The screenplay is by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth, with a story by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.

With the Blu-ray, go behind-the-scenes of Bond’s latest mission with in-depth special features. Watch how the jaw-dropping opening scene was created in Mexico City.

Blu-ray™ Special Features:

  • SPECTRE: Bond’s Biggest Opening Sequence
  • Video Blogs
    • Director – Sam Mendes
    • Supercars
    • Introducing Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci
    • Action
    • Music
    • Guinness World Record
  • Gallery

DVD Special Features

  • Video Blogs
    • Director – Sam Mendes
    • Supercars
    • Day of the Dead Festival
    • Introducing Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci
    • Action
    • Music
    • Guinness World Record

Box Office Democracy: Spectre

In Casino Royale, a bartender asks James Bond if he wants his martini shaken or stirred and Bond looks back at the man and responds, “Do I look like I give a damn?” and if your theater was anything like mine the crowd went nuts. It was a clear signal that we were discarding some of the older more tired aspects of the Bond franchise.

In Spectre, Bond orders a martini, adds that he would like it “shaken not stirred” and it was a deflating moment. It was a sign that for whatever reason the people responsible for making Bond movies are no longer interested in making something exciting or fresh (or even a transparent attempt at grabbing for Bourne fans) but to make the thing they’ve made so many times before. While Casino Royale felt like a look ahead in to the 21st century of action movies Spectre is a wistful glance back at the 1970s, and that’s not what I want out of a movie anymore. Spoilers ahead.

The thing that separates Spectre from the Bond movies at all is that the plot continues its trajectory away from sweeping supervillainy and more towards personal conflict. While the eponymous organization is surely evil as their board meeting of crime activity suggests the plan they hope to execute in this film is honestly rather mundane. Spectre wants to be the technical backbone for a multinational security surveillance treaty, essentially a slightly more evil version of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a bad thing certainly but it pales in comparison to irradiating all the gold in Fort Knox or holding the world hostage with stolen atomic bombs. Perhaps this is supposed to reflect the changing face of global fear in the modern world but once I’ve accepted all these other things it just feels like lower stakes.

Where the stakes are much higher are with Bond himself. This movie goes to incredible lengths to show that all of the personal problems, depicted on-screen or otherwise, that Bond has experienced have been the direct result of the machinations of Ernst Stavro Blofield, the man in charge of this massive criminal organization. The events of the previous three films were all leading to this and it’s probably best you don’t pick at that too much because it doesn’t make much sense at all. I see what they’re going for, that it would be nice for these movies to feel a bit more personal, but I’m quite sick of hearing about Vesper at this point and it makes the film feel more generic because every action film is going for this kind of thing, the climax of this film could easily have been a Lethal Weapon finale, it doesn’t feel particularly unique.

I might be asking too much from a Bond movie. Spectre provides so many of the things we expect from these movies. There are stunning locations, beautiful cars, exquisite tight-fitting clothing for both men and women, and a healthy dose of quips in dry British accents. That’s the franchise right there, that’s enough for the vast majority of the audience and if we accept that those are the bullet points Bond movies are supposed to hit this one does a great job: I would very much like to visit Morocco, drive a DB10, look as good as Daniel Craig and be as cool as a British secret agent. This is top-notch escapist power fantasy.

I don’t understand all of the casting choices in Spectre. Dave Bautista is asked to show none of the charm he displayed in Guardians of the Galaxy as he basically plays a brick wall for Bond to bounce off of in this film. I’m not even sure he has three lines if we’re not counting screams and grunts. Christoph Waltz is a brilliant performer as ever but he gets only the bare minimum of screen time for a Bond villain. He gets to reveal his evil plan, he gets to arrange an elaborate death trap, and he gets to participate in a chase. Waltz is in one scene in the first half of the movie and that creates anticipation but also makes the rest of the events feel less important. The worst casting was Andrew Scott as the head of British intelligence. You can’t cast someone most famous for playing a scheming villain, cast him as the smarmy new authority figure and then expect to get a meaningful third act beat out of his inevitable betrayal.

Perhaps I was just wrong about what this run of Bond movies was supposed to do. It seems that they don’t want to move in a new direction for the franchise, instead it looks like they wanted to create the illusion of a brave new direction while they went and rebooted everything even further back. We have a stuffy older man as M again (sorry Ralph Fiennes), we have Moneypenny back again, we have Q delivering tricked out Aston Martins, and we have villains in elaborate remote bases with their fluffy cats and their slow avoidable death traps. Pierce Brosnan could have been in this movie; hell, with a filter or two this could have been Timothy Dalton, and that’s disappointing. This could be a modern action franchise but instead it seems willing to go back to trading in nostalgia and clichés.

John Ostrander: Bond… My Favorite Bond

James Bond

I am reluctant to name anything “the best” because that appellation is usually very subjective. It’s easier to name something as “my favorite” because… how can you argue that? You may say that I have no taste but my favorite something is my favorite.

James Bond has existed in the movies for over fifty years and as a character in books even longer. A large number of actors have played the part onscreen and all of them (yes, even Roger Moore) have had good films. Some turkeys in there, too.

For many people, James Bond is Sean Connery. I can fully understand that – he was the first to depict 007 onscreen and many of the traits he introduced became defining tropes. I would argue, however, that some of the excesses that crept into the franchise also started during the Connery years. The over the top villains, the elaborate sets by Ken Adams, the women as sex objects and so on. They became set in stone and the Bond films became fossilized and outdated even as they were made.

When Daniel Craig became the new Bond in 2006, the entire series was revamped. The whole approach to Bond changed. The franchise was very much influenced by the Jason Bourne movies. Bond was more realistic and so were his opponents. Skyfall stripped Bond down; at one point, he is out of shape, seedy looking, and not in command of himself or the situations he finds himself in. He’s aging and the film admits that; Bond has to work to become the Bond he was once again, if he can.

So – what is my favorite Bond, both actor and movie? Again, no disrespect meant to the other Bonds but my favorite actors playing the character are Daniel Craig and Sean Connery. Correspondingly, my favorite Bond movies are Skyfall, From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger. If I had to choose between Connery and Craig which actor is my favorite? Which of the three Bond movies is my Number One?

It’s so hard to compare. While certain tropes remain the same, there are so many differences that it’s as if there are two different characters named James Bond. Sean Connery’s Bond is very much a man of his time – late 50s to mid 60s – while Daniel Craig’s Bond is very much of today. In From Russia With Love, Bond is perhaps closest to the Ian Fleming novels’ version of the character. That’s not always a good thing; the books, in addition to being highly chauvinistic, could be terribly racist. It can make you cringe.

Goldfinger, without a doubt, is the most entertaining of the three films but, for me, Skyfall is better written and has the best director in Sam Mendes (an Academy Award winner for American Beauty). It’s full of grace notes and visual flourishes, such as the scenes in Shanghai. Some shots are just stunningly beautiful.

To be honest, while I love Goldfinger, for me the choice for the best Bond film comes down to From Russia With Love and Skyfall. The Bonds depicted, though, are so different! In the end, I give the edge to Skyfall as the best Bond film. It suits my sensibilities. And, yes, for me the best 007 is Daniel Craig. Heresy to some, I know, but there it is. That’s also a very tight race.

The favoritism of Craig’s Bond may increase with the release of the newest Bond film, Spectre, in November. The current series has dug deeper into who the character is and this promises to further that exploration. After fifty years, they’re still finding something new to do with James Bond.

I can’t wait.


John Ostrander: Revamp, Reinterpret, Regenerate, Reinvigorate

Ostrander Art 130303There’s been a lot of pushing the reset button in pop culture recently and I find the results interesting. J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise a few years back and, while some fans complained, I think it was successful. Certainly it was financially successful, which is what the Hollywood moguls really care about.

At the start of Daniel Craig’s run, the James Bond movies were also rebooted, culminating in the recent spectacular Skyfall, which – again this may be heresy to some – was the best Bond film ever. It’s visually stunning and takes Bond himself to greater depths and heights than I’ve seen up until now.

Sherlock Holmes has been reinterpreted into the modern age with two versions, the BBC’s magnificent Sherlock and Elementary on CBS. Both are true to the basics and it’s amazing how well the classic fictional detective gibes with modern times.

Of course, we’ve witnessed DC’s rebirth with the New 52. Again, you can argue as to whether it is artistically successful but I don’t think you can argue that it hasn’t been financially successful thus far. This summer will see a movie rebooting of Superman with Man of Steel. The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy rebooted that cinematic history as The Amazing Spider-man did with that character’s movie version. X-Men: First Class reimagined Marvel’s mutants and so on. The next Star Wars chapter and the announced Star Wars solo films, while they will undoubtedly respect the previous movies, will probably play hob with what is known as the Extended Universe, the complex continuity that has sprung up around the films via novels, comics, games and more. Depending on how they turn out, that may not be a bad idea.

All my professional comic book writing career, I’ve played with and enjoyed continuity. I respect it but I don’t worship it and I don’t think it is cast in stone. Sometimes, continuity becomes like barnacles on the bottom of a boat and need to be scraped off in order to make the boat (or the franchise) sea/see worthy again.

One of the most successful franchises is the BBC’s Doctor Who and part of its longevity (it celebrates 50 years this year) is its ability to change the actor who is playing the Doctor. It’s built into the series; the Doctor is an alien being who regenerates from time to time into virtually a new character, played by a different actor. The new Doctor doesn’t look, act, dress or sound like any of the other incarnations. The re-invention is a part of the continuity and that’s very clever.

I think this is very healthy; characters and concepts can and should be re-examined and re-imagined for the times in which they appear. They have to speak to and reflect concerns that its current public has if they are going to remain vital and alive.

Can it be overdone or badly done? Absolutely. Some remakes get so far from what the character is about that they might as well be a different character altogether. You want to take a look at the essence of the character, what defines them, and then see how you get back to that, interpreting it for current audiences. Some folks revamp something for the sake of revamping or to put their stamp on the character. I don’t think that usually works very well. Change what needs changing, certainly, but be true to the essentials of the character or concept.

Have I always done that? I don’t think so; when I was given Suicide Squad, I didn’t go back to the few stories that were originally published and work from that. I created a new concept for the title. However, I did reference the old stories and kept them a part of continuity, albeit re-interpreting them. I think we played fair with the old stories.

On The Spectre, Tom Mandrake and I took elements from as many past versions of the character as we could while getting down to what we felt were the essentials. Really, our biggest change was not the Spectre himself but his alter-ego, Jim Corrigan. Originally, he was plainclothes detective in the 30s and our version reflected that. I think that was a key to our success.

Even with my own character GrimJack, after a certain point I drop kicked the character at least 100 years down his own timeline into (shades of the Doctor) a new incarnation. I gave him a new supporting cast and the setting changed as well. It made the book and the character fresh again and made me look at it with new eyes.

The old stories will continue to exist somewhere; they just won’t be part of the new continuity. At some point, that new continuity will be changed as well as the concepts and characters are re-interpreted for a newer audience. That way they’ll remain fresh and alive. Otherwise, they’ll just become fossilized and dead. Who wants that?




REVIEW: Skyfall

Skyfall DVDSkyfall, now out on home video from MGM, is a sheer delight, holding my attention for the entire 2:23 running time, long for a Bond film but it felt just right. The four year financially-mandated layoff between the so-so Quantum of Solace and Skyfall is barely noticeable but the passage of time is an unspoken theme for the new entry.

Daniel Craig, not at all what Ian Fleming had in mind for 007, made the character his own through sheer force of will. When he helped reboot the series with Casino Royale, my biggest complaint was that he was too old to be an MI6 agent at the beginning of his career. With Quantum a direct sequel, we were still seemingly early in Bond’s career but I bought into it.

Now, suddenly, the third film deals with Bond being ready to be retired. We’ve clearly leaped ahead in this incarnation’s timeline, having totally gained M’s confidence to the point where she risks her career and reputation on him when England needs him most. But this is a wounded Bond, one who has been beaten down, who escaped death and seemed to have walked away from his responsibilities, swapping his Walther for a bottle and obscurity. Of course, when M and his fellow agents are threatened in the most heinous of terrorist acts, he has to come back.

We’ve seen Mi6 agents go rogue before, most recently when 007 exposed the perfidy of 009 in one of the Pierce Brosnan entries. But, this is the first time we’ve seen a truly frightening threat make it so personal. Javier Bardem steals the film with his turn as Raoul Silva, an agent M seemingly abandoned when she was the Hong Kong station chief back in the 1980s. His torture left him physically and mentally broken and now he is back to exact the most painful revenge possible.

After he makes M watch MI6 HQ blowup, Bond is back and unleashed after Silva but, being a wily opponent, it’s all part of a master plan. Not only will he beat M, he will make her suffer by breaking her current favorite, Bond. And here is my only quibble with the generally excellent script from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan (this almost makes me forgive him for Nemesis). Silva’s plan is so intricate that it is entirely reliant on split-second timing and not once does he miss a beat, making him too perfect. When our hero needs that same timing for success, it is sometimes hit, sometimes missed but Silva never seems to miss a beat, straining credulity.

Skyfall-0071-300x180After two films to restage the early days, this film nicely allows itself to be a formulaic Bond adventure starting with a breathtaking (and plausible) motorcycle chase across the rooftops of Turkey. The film opens with two musical notes that immediately suck you into the Bond experience and they hint at the Monty Norman theme until it’s time for Bond to be Bond, James Bond. The audience applauded at the sight of the Astin Martin and the film’s best line may be M’s, “Go ahead and eject me. See if I care.” The movie comes complete with a visually fun title sequence, owing plenty of Maurice Binder’s work, and ends with the traditional status quo re-established, but freshened for the future. We have Q (Ben Wishlaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and a new M (Ralph Fiennes). Then we get Craig in the gun’s sight, the blood and the Norman theme in full throttle. Bond is back and we’re promised will return.

It’s a thrilling adventure that critics say owes too much to the Bourne films but really, it’s the other way around. The Bond films have been setting the bar higher and higher through the years, challenging others to match or exceed the standard for adventure films. Thankfully, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, caretakers of the franchise, are now willing to work with a variety of screenwriters and directors to keep things fresh. I had no idea Sam Mendes had a flair for action and he was most impressive so it was inspired of a drunken Craig to offer the job to him and then tell the producers what he had done. They get credit for not dismissing the notion.  And with that, I get the sense that the franchise is in good hands and with Craig aboard for one or two more, the second half-century seems to be promising.

xavier-skyfall-readThe transfer to Blu-ray is sharp, with great color and sound. Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ work is nothing short of spectacular and the digital photography is well captured here for repeat viewings. The sound equally matches the visuals, well mixed and lush.

The armload of extras begins with Commentary with Director Sam Mendes where the director takes us through the scenes and discusses them in-depth. It’s interesting to hear how the actors helped shape his thinking and shooting so we can follow the evolution from concept to final shot. We’re reminded that Star Trek Nemesis director Stuart Baird is a terrific film editor as seen here. There’s additional Commentary with Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner but they fawn too much and you learn too little.

Shooting Bond (59:24) can be seen in chapters or as a complete documentary and you can watch the film get made from every major aspect save Baird’s editing. The cats contributes to this so it’s fairly comprehensive and entertaining.

Skyfall Premiere (4:28) offers up snippets from the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring interviews with Mendes, Craig, Harris, Bardem, and Fiennes. You also get the

Theatrical Trailer, Soundtrack Promotional Spot, and fifteen minutes of trailers for other films.


The Point Radio: ARROW’s Aim Is Still True

As ARROW  hits the halfway mark of the TV season, fans and critics alike say it keeps getting better. We go backstage with the creators and cast to find out how they got this far, and what lies ahead for new characters including one played by fan favorite John Barrowman. Plus How about Captain Kirk, Ron Burgundy or Spock doing your voice mail message? It can happen if you hurry.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Howie Mandel’s Got Holiday Game

It’s a Christmas tradition at a lot of holiday parties. You might call it “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant” but now it’s getting super-sized and coming to NBC for five consecutive nights. Howie Mandel joins us to talk about what TAKE IT ALL will mean to the landscape of primetime television, plus Neil Gaiman hits radio and WALKING DEAD fans can keep the fear going with a new iOS game.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Kurt Sutter On SONS Bloody End

SONS OF ANARCHY will be wrapping this season on a particularly bloody note, which has been the tone for the last few months. We talked with series creator Kurt Sutter about his plans to keep the tension and betrayal coming. Plus everyone is waiting for the 2nd part of the direct-to-DVD DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Bruce Timm & Andrea Romano join us to talk about what we will and won’t be seeing in the next part set to hit stores in 2013.

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: GO ON Pushes NBC To The Top

The November TV Ratings Sweeps are over and for the first time in a while, NBC climbed to the top. Critics are saying that the win was due to several of the network’s new shows, including the comedy GO ON. We talk to the creators and cast about just how a show about death became so funny, plus Chevy Chase finally bolts from COMMUNITY and David Tennant back on DOCTOR WHO??

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: GRIMM & PERSON OF INTEREST – Shows To Be Thankful For

The second season of NBC’s GRIMM has turned the characters upside down, especially “Juliette” played by Bitsi Tulloch. She fills us in on how it all happened – and what’s coming up on the show when it returns in 2013. Plus CBS’ PERSON OF INTEREST is a Top 5 rated show which has been a surprise to a lot of folks including stars Michael Emerson & Jim Caviezel who talk about putting the show together. Meanwhile, STAR WARS gets two more writers and WOLVERINE gets a Marvel NOW launch.

The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.