Jul 28, 2012

New Skyfall TV Spot

James Bond was a huge part of last night's Olympics coverage on NBC. In addition to stealing the show in Danny Boyle's impressive opening ceremony by parachuting into the stadium withe the Queen(!), Daniel Craig's 007 also made an appearance in an ad break with a brand new Skyfall TV spot. While a lot of the images are recycled from the teaser trailer, there is new material, too, including our first good look at the face of Javier Bardem's villain (albeit brief) and a very impressive train stunt. It's a tad reminiscent of Transporter 3, but with what's obviously a much bigger budget behind it and that panache only the Bond brand brings! Speaking of panache, it's clear from this spot that Craig's Bond has now matured into the ultra-confident agent we know from the other films. The moment when he adjusts his cufflinks after leaping onto a partially destroyed train car recalls Pierce Brosnan straightening his tie while driving the tank in GoldenEye. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is likely to stir up a lot of debate among Bond fans. Overall, though, this TV spot serves to further strengthen my impression that we're in for a great movie this fall! Judge for yourself:

Jul 25, 2012

Equalizer Movie Moves Forward With Washington

Huh. I didn't really think this would actually happen. But Deadline reports that the long, long-in-the-works feature adaptation of the classic 1980s TV show The Equalizer is moving forward, with Denzel Washington in the Edward Woodward role. (Washington's attachment was first reported in December.) In fact, it's not only happening, but it's fast-tracked! The trade blog reports that Sony has set an April 8 start date in order to lock down Washington. The studio's shortlist of director candidates for the tightly budgeted thriller reportedly includes Pierre Morel, Nicolas Winding Refn, Gavin O’Connor and Gareth Evans. Like Woodward, Washington will play a former secret agent atoning for past sins by helping those with the odds against them. However, Deadline cautions that this "loose adaptation" has "that basic premise but takes off in its own way, tailored to Washington’s skills." Therefore, I'm hesitant to even suggest that Washington will play McCall. He may portray a new character altogether. The original Equalizer was to some extent inspired by Woodward's must-see 1960s spy series Callan.

Jul 21, 2012

New James Bond Radio Drama Available to Hear Online Now

Following previous BBC Radio 4 adaptations of "Dr. No" and "Goldfinger," Die Another Day villain Toby Stephens returns to the role of James Bond 007 in a brand new radioplay of "From Russia With Love." Today's Saturday Drama is available to listen to now around the world from the BBC Radio 4 website. Stephens is joined by Eileen Atkins (The Avengers) as Rosa Klebb, Tim Piggot-Smith (Quantum of Solace) as Kerim Bey, Julian Sands (24) as Q, and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, author of the Lucifer Box novels) as Kronsteen. Martin Jarvis again plays the "Ian Fleming" role of narrator. The 90-minute radioplay will stream on the BBC's iPlayer for 7 days.

Jul 19, 2012

Latest Skyfall Videoblog Focuses on Bond's Aston Martin DB5

The latest Skyfall videoblog posted on 007.com focuses on one of my favorite aspects of the James Bond legacy, and one that I'm very happy is included in Skyfall: the classic Aston Martin DB5. Through behind-the-scenes footage and a little bit of film footage that we've already seen in the trailer, we get to see the most classic of all Bond cars in action. After waxing nostalgic about owning the Corgi toy we all played with as kids, director Sam Mendes intriguingly states that the last part of Skyfall, featuring the DB5, "deliberately, very consciously could have taken place in 1962." Forgiving the nitpick that that clearly isn't quite true since the DB5 itself wasn't unveiled until '63, that's a very interesting statement. And after hearing it, I look at that footage differently. Yes, the Tom Ford suit that Craig is wearing, despite a decidedly modern cut, has a very retro appeal in keeping with the suits Sean Connery wore back then. And the two locations we see the Aston in are both reminiscent of Goldfinger, the film in which it made its stunning, unforgettable debut. The Scottish highlands recall the Swiss mountain roads on which Bond pursues Goldfinger's Rolls Royce with the aid of Q's homer, and first encounters Tilly Masterson, and the London warehouses recall the narrow streets of Goldfinger's Zurich industrial complex in which Bond demonstrates the car's lethal gadgetry. All in all, it strikes me as a subtler and more appropriate homage than Marc Forster's blatant oily appropriation of that film's Golden Girl imagery in Quantum of Solace, and a nice way to mark the franchise's 50th anniversary.

Needless to say, all of this certainly serves its marketing purpose, and makes me all the more excited for Skyfall! It's a pity that there's no new Aston Martin in this film (since the 3-picture licensing deal EON signed with Ford prior to Die Another Day expired with Quantum of Solace, and Ford no longer owns the famous marque), but I'm very glad that Mendes found a way to keep the association going between the character and the car by giving the DB5 what looks to be its most screentime since GoldenEye (when the licensing deal for a modern car was with BMW). As previously noted, the license plate here is back to the classic Goldfinger nomenclature of BMT 216A after a BMT 214A plate in the Pierce Brosnan era and Bahamas plates the first time we saw this vehicle in the Craig era in Casino Royale. Anyway, have a look:

Jul 18, 2012

New Spy (and Spy-like) DVDs Out This Week: Leverage and Lockout

Although Paramount released the first three seasons of TNT's fun, Mission: Impossible-like series Leverage on DVD (Season 1 review here), it's 20th Century Fox Home Entertaiment who bring us this week's Leverage: The 4th Season. That doesn't really mean any changes for the consumer, though. We still get the same copious special features that we're used two from the previous seasons. Extras this time out include audio commentaries on every episode, a gag reel, lots of deleted scenes and the featurettes "Behind the Scenes of The Long Job Down" and "Writers' Room Job." In its fourth season, Leverage still feels pretty fresh to me. The Mission: Impossible formula is fairly evergreen, so there's a lot of mileage you can get out of a team of specialists conning a different deserving villain week after week. Highlights include a run-in with a suave, James Bond-like thief and a trip to Dubai's Burj Khalifa. The Leverage crew may have beaten Tom Cruise there by a few weeks, but shots of Parker atop the tower (and jumping off it) are sadly let down by budgetary restrictions and obviously can't compete with Brad Bird's IMAX gloriousness. Retail for Leverage: The 4th Season is $39.98, but of course it's cheaper on Amazon.

Also out this week from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the latest Luc Besson-produced neo-Eurospy actionfest, Lockout, on DVD and Blu-ray. Both formats contain an unrated cut of the movie (no theatrical version available, apparently, except streaming... but in this case, that's okay; the theatrical one felt a bit edited for content) and the featurettes "Breaking Into Lockout" and "A Vision of the Future: Production Design & Special Effects." There's also an Ultraviolet digital copy on the Blu-ray, which is even less noteworthy than a regular digital copy, but still worth mentioning because someone probably cares, I guess.... The gimmick with Lockout was that this time the neo-Eurospy action takes place... in space! And Guy Pearce is just the guy to pull that off. He makes a great wisecracking badass (sort of a cross between Burn Notice's Michael Westen and Escape From New York's Snake Plissken), and it's really too bad that this movie didn't catch on and do for his career what Taken did for Liam Neeson's. This genre seems like the right niche for Pearce, and I'd love to see him topline more neo-Eurospy titles from Besson's efficient action factory EuropaCorp. Lockout is no Taken, mind you, but it's a whole lot of fun, and personally I find the crossroad of spy and sci-fi pretty irresistible. (The spy plot is actually a surprisingly major one in the film for a movie that takes place mostly in an orbiting space prison.) Retail is $30.99 for the DVD and $35.99 for the BD, though both are substantially less on Amazon, natch.

Jul 16, 2012

First Look At Q in Skyfall

Last week Entertainment Weekly brought us this first glimpse of Ben Wishaw (Perfume, The Hour, I'm Not There) as gadget master Q in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall. I'm intrigued! He may be the first Q to be younger than 007, but I think Wishaw seems to convey the sort of seriousness of a man who never jokes about his work in this still. I'm thrilled that one of my favorite supporting characters is officially back in the Bond movies, and I look forward to seeing what this talented actor brings to the role. Now how about Moneypenny...?

Jul 15, 2012

First Look At Bond 50 Blu-ray Packaging

Sony may not be promoting Skyfall with a Comic-Con panel, but IMAX screened new foorage during their presentation and Fox has a very cool booth on the dealer floor devoted to the upcoming 50th Anniversary set of James Bond Blu-rays. They have a different Bond vehicle on display each day, courtesy of the Ian Fleming Foundation, and fans can pose for pictures with the vehicles. But they've also got the actual Blu-ray packaging, and here it is. As you can see, the long, thin box contains two separate hardcover books housing the discs for all twenty-two official movies--plus an empty slot for the twenty-third, Skyfall, when that comes out! (The disc in the picture is a dummy.)

Jul 8, 2012

New Bourne Legacy TV Spots

Coming Soon (via Deadline) has posted a trio of new TV spots for The Bourne Legacy which between them reveal a few glimpses of new footage. Looks good!

Jul 6, 2012

Diana Rigg to Guest Star on Doctor Who

BBC reports (via AICN) that Emma Peel herself, uber-spy star Dame Diana Rigg (also the greatest Bond Girl of all time), will appear alongside her daughter, Rachel Sterling (Tipping the Velvet) on an upcoming episode of Doctor Who penned by none other than Mark Gatiss! Gatiss is not only the author of the fantastic Lucifer Box spy send-ups The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber (as well as the less successful third novel in the trilogy, Black Butterfly), but also an avowed fan of of both James Bond and Sixties spy television. (He's all over the extras on the DVD release of BBC's answer to The Avengers, Adam Adamant Lives!, for instance.) I have little doubt that he'll be able to resist working in a sly reference or two to Rigg's famed spy roles. (He even references Charles Helfenstein's excellent book The Making of On Her Majesty's Secret Service on an audio commentary for the latest season of Sherlock, the brilliant modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes that he co-created with current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat.) Apparently the pair will play a mother and daughter on the show, too. (I was kind of hoping they'd play older and younger versions of the same character on a time travel show. Oh well.) Rigg's Avengers predecessor Honor Blackman memorably appeared in the epic 1986 Doctor Who serial "The Trial of a Time Lord."