Jun 23, 2016

New Jason Bourne Poster

Universal has released a new international poster for Jason Bourne, Matt Damon's eagerly anticipated return to the titular Robert Ludlum character. Frankly, it's a pretty boring poster, if you ask me. (Especially compared with the simple, but exciting, teaser.) It looks like someone Photoshopped Damon's head onto a Taken poster... or lazily rehashed the worst James Bond campaign, from Die Another Day. That said, the movie itself (which also heralds the return to the franchise of director Paul Greengrass) looks characteristically fantastic! And it's nice to see Oscar winner Alicia Vikander getting a more prominent spot in the film's advertising than she did for her last spy movie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Jason Bourne opens July 29 in the United States.

Feig Talks Spy 2, Statham Returning

When director Paul Feig's hilarious secret agent send-up Spy made more than $200 million last year, a sequel seemed inevitable (especially since the movie had been originally conceived as a franchise opener), but things have been surprisingly quiet on that front ever since. This week, out doing press for Ghostbusters, Feig finally spilled some details on the follow-up to Empire (via Dark Horizons). "It's the first thing I did that I set up to be a possible franchise and Melissa [McCarthy] is dying to do it. I have a story for it, and a funny idea that will kick it off that involves [Jason] Statham." Statham proved a scene-stealer in Spy, delivering an absolutely hilarious monologue of his espionage accomplishments sending up both James Bond and the action star's own image. ("I watched the woman I love get tossed from a plane and hit by another plane mid-air. I drove a car off a freeway on top of a train while it was on fire. Not the car; I was on fire.") It wasn't just audiences who were in stitches with Statham's hitherto under-explored comedic chops; he also impressed the director. "Susan Cooper [McCarthy] is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever come up with," Feig went on, "but Rick Ford is possibly the one I’ll take to the grave with me. Will he get any more self-aware in the sequel? No, god no. He’ll get less self-aware." I can't wait to see more of Ford's antics in Spy 2!

Trailer: Keeping Up With the Joneses

It's been more than two years since we first heard that Jon Hamm and Zach Galifianakis would be teaming up for a spy comedy. To be honest, I'd kind of forgotten about it, which makes the trailer for Keeping Up With the Joneses that Fox dropped this week all the more of a pleasant surprise! Galifianakis (Birdman) and Isla Fisher (Now You See Me) play a suburban couple who discover their new, seemingly perfect neighbors (Hamm and  Criminal's Gal Gadot) are superspies. On what side is unclear, but as the trailer demonstrates, hijinx ensue. Greg Mottola (Superbad) directs, from a script by Michael LeSieur. Patton Oswalt (Archer) and Matt Walsh (Veep) provide A-list comedic support. Keeping Up With the Joneses opens on October 21.

Tradecraft: Sicario Spawns Spy Series

We already knew that a sequel was in the works to what might well have been the best spy movie of 2016 (a year literally packed with spy movies), Sicario. But now it looks like that film might spin off a whole series, or at least a trilogy. Italian director Stefano Sollima (Gomorrah), who is set to helm the second film, Soldado, told The Independent (via Dark Horizons) that that was the plan. "The reason that I love [Soldado] is because it's not exactly a sequel; it's something you can catch and enjoy even if you haven't watched the first one. The idea is to make three anthology movies with some of the core actors and in the same world." The core characters returning for the second movie will be Josh Brolin's shady CIA agent Benicio del Toro's nebulous assassin. "It's absolutely a standalone movie," the director states, "a completely different story with just two of the characters that you met in Sicario." Taylor Sheridan wrote Sicario and Soldado, and seems like a likely bet to pen this third film as well. Personally, I'd sure like to see Jeffrey Donovan's special forces operator return as well.

Jun 21, 2016

Exclusive Interview With James Bond Comic Book Writer Warren Ellis

This is a big week for James Bond fans. Tomorrow sees the release of both the collected edition of the first new 007 comic book storyline in more than twenty years, VARGR, and the first issue of Dynamite's second storyline, EIDOLON, both written by comics superstar Warren Ellis (Global Frequency, RED). The gorgeous VARGR hardcover (which includes a gallery of all of the series' beautiful variant covers as well as some stunning concept art by series artist Jason Masters) will look great on the shelf alongside all your other Bond continuation novels.

With British author Warren Ellis, Dynamite seemed to land the perfect writer for a new generation of contemporary 007 comics. Ellis achieved great acclaim for his original series like Transmetropolitan and Planetary, as well as his work on mainstream superhero titles like Iron Man and Excaliber. But it was his previous forays into the paranoid world of spies and espionage in series like Global Frequency, RED (which was turned into a 2010 movie starring Bruce Willis which in turn spawned a sequel) and Reload (with former James Bond artist Paul Gulacy) that made Ellis ideally suited for Ian Fleming's superspy.

He recently took a moment for a brief exclusive interview with the Double O Section to answer some deep-cut, hardcore Bond nerd questions, and to discuss his work on "VARGR" and what we can expect from "EIDOLON" (which reintroduces SPECTRE to the world of the literary 007!).
00: You've taken on the Bond myth before in some other guises. How is your Bond different from the Bond/Nick Fury analogue in Planetary, John Stone? 
Ellis: Well, that character was much more of a specific riff on Marvel's Nick Fury character from the 1960s -- its only relationship to Bond was in the things that Nick Fury's writers and artists took from Bond. My Bond is the Bond of the books, by design and agreement with the Ian Fleming estate, and there's not, to my eye, a lot of connection there beyond the superficial. 
00: Obviously you re-read a lot of Fleming to prepare for this series. Since you're now an official 007 continuation author, working with the Fleming estate, did you delve at all into the work of any previous continuation authors, like Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, or William Boyd? Or is it necessary to consciously avoid that? 
Ellis: I decided to consciously avoid that. The remit was very much to live within the Bond of the books, and my decision was to only read the Fleming. Going in, I was terrified of pastiche or dilution, and to read the continuation books would put me at a remove from the central texts. The only non-Fleming reading I did was Amis' non-fiction appreciation of Bond [The James Bond Dossier], just to complement my own notes.

I never really thought of myself as an "official" 007 continuation author before. I quite like that. Thank you. 
00: You're welcome! It's a great group to be in. There are some elements very much present in Fleming, but which have become exaggerated in the films – notably the gadgets (attaché cases with hidden weapons as opposed to invisible cars) and humor (wry observations rather than puns). How do you walk that line between the book and film takes on those things, and will we see more of either in EIDOLON? 
Ellis: There were one or two gags I couldn't resist, just as I couldn't resist opening VARGR with a movie-style cold open. I'm never going to get another opportunity to write one of those, after all. But, in general, I cleave much more towards the more reserved tone of the books. Not perfectly, I know -- I leaven the text when the opportunity presents itself, not least because it opens up Bond's personality. I don't have access to the ease of interiority that prose provides, so I take advantage of dialogue interplay and body language, the affordances of comics.

EIDOLON might be a little "lighter" than VARGR, as I allow myself a few Fleming-isms that I avoided in VARGR. "Dharma Reach" was a fun name in VARGR, for instance, but there's a female character in EIDOLON with a far more full-on Fleming-y name.  As in Fleming, it's the little details that make it live.
Be sure to pick up the collected edition of VARGR if you haven't already to revel in those little details, and check out James Bond 007 #7, in comic shops June 22, to read Ellis's latest Bond adventure. Thank you to Warren Ellis for taking the time for this interview and to Dynamite Entertainment for making it happen.

Read my review of James Bond 007 #1, the premiere issue of VARGR, here.
Read about the recently reissued 1960s James Bond manga collections here.
Pre-order James Bond 007: VARGR from Amazon here.

Jun 17, 2016

Tradecraft: Netflix Orders Spy Kids TV Show

The Spy Kids are returning, this time on TV. Variety reports that Netflix will debut Spy Kids: Mission Critical, a series spinoff of the Robert Rogriguez theatrical kids' films, in 2018. According to the trade, "the show follows brother-and-sister team Juni and Carmen Cortez as they attend Spy Kids Academy, a top-secret spy school for kid agents. They must train and lead a team of fellow Spy Kids cadets against the forces of S.W.A.M.P. (Sinister Wrongdoers Against Mankind’s Preservation) and their leader, Golden Brain." It's unclear from this article whether this is an animated or live-action kids' show, but the head writer is FM DeMarco, who previously worked on Netflix's animated show Dragons: Race to the Edge, so that might be a clue. Bob Weinstein and The Weinstein Company will produce. No mention is made of any involvement from Rodriguez, who has directed all four installments of the film series, most recently the quasi-reboot Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 2011. In that film, Juni and Carmen (the child heroes of the original trilogy) were young adults who had passed the torch on to a new generation of Sky Kids.

Jun 4, 2016

Roach and Myers Still Contemplating Fourth Austin Powers Movie

Dark Horizons reports that director Jay Roach (whose LBJ biopic All the Way recently premiered on HBO) and star Mike Myers (Inglourious Basterds) are still kicking around ideas for a fourth Austin Powers movie. "You know, we talk about it every time we get together," the director told Larry King Now. "It ebbs and flows, and I would say it's in a latent phase right now, but someday if we find the right idea that seems to have it earn itself, for sure." Asked by King if they had a specific idea for the sequel, Roach replied, "We've had a whole bunch. It's been many years of kicking around, and we've had so many, but there's no one that's kind of stuck yet." So it doesn't sound like anything very concrete is happening on this front. That's probably for the best. While the first film (which will be two decades old next year, if you can believe it) was brilliant and hilarious, the sequels proved the law of diminishing returns. Still, they managed to shine a spotlight on Sixties spy movies, which is always a good thing. It was in the run-up to the third Powers movie that Fox released Our Man Flint and In Like Flint on DVD for the first time (with a weird cover blurb on the sequel attributed to Austin Powers himself proclaiming it, "My favorite movie!"), along with Fathom and Modesty Blaise (the latter of which makes its Blu-ray debut this summer via Kino Lorber). So if another Austin Powers movie meant more obscure spy titles making their way to home video, then I'd be all for it.

Digging into the Double O Section archives, I see that I've already written this blurb virtually verbatim (right down to the Fathom reference) at least twice before, and probably more. Rumors of another Austin Powers adventure tend to pop up every couple of years. Back in 2011, New Line was reported to be "close to a deal" with Myers for a film focusing on the villainous Dr. Evil and his son Scott. More recently, The New York Times reported that Myers was planning to resurrect the character on Broadway instead. Neither ultimately panned out.