The next James Bond film, SPECTRE, directed by Sam Mendes, is well into production, as shown in two short features released by the studio. The new main cast will return, Daniel Craig of course as Bond, Ralph Fiennes in his first full stint as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw as Q.
In one new video we see the first look at villain Mr. Hinx–Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista filming on snow-covered mountains along with the newest Bond girl Madeleine Swann, played by French actress Léa Seydoux.
In the biggest year of franchise blockbusters probably ever, with a new Avengers, a new Mad Max, a new Jurassic Park, a new Ted, a new Fantastic Four, a new National Lampoon’s Vacation, a new Guillermo del Toro movie, a new Star Wars, a new Mission Impossible, and a new Quentin Tarentino movie all on their way, a new Bond will help keep our theater calendars full all year long.
After the break, see two new behind the scenes looks at the making of the latest Bond:
On the one hand, the first preview for Guy Ritchie’s remake of the 1960s Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series looks fairly stylish. On the other, it stars the leads of the less than stellar Man of Steel and the remake of The Lone Ranger.
Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and Hugh Grant co-star in the next spy flick trying to be James Bond. The original U.N.C.L.E. series starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as agents for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. Cavill fills in for Vaughn as Napoleon Solo and Hammer for McCallum as Illya Kuryakin.
A remake of this type would seem to have a pretty narrow audience. Fans of the original will have the typical two camps: those that avoid it out of loyalty to the original and those who want to see more from the show’s universe of stories. In a year where dozens of big box office draws are slated for release and already announced months ago as previously discussed here at borg.com, and when remakes (like The Lone Ranger) have proven to fail at the box office, this one will have a steep hill to climb.
Check out this first trailer for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., after the break:
We haven’t seen them all yet, but these early released new ads for Sunday’s big game will be hard to beat. Danny Trejo as Marcia Brady? Pierce Brosnan back as Bond? More Schwarzenegger as Terminator? You’d have to drift back to the Bowl ads of 2012 for commercials this good.
Wait no longer. Check out this new trailer, with plenty of Arnold and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke as the latest Sarah Connor, in Terminator Genisys:
We’ll be first in line for Terminator opening weekend.
If you don’t agree with us that Daniel Craig is the best James Bond of all, maybe you’ll be happy with the visuals of Pierce Brosnan back in a The Spy Who Loved Me setting:
Director John Carpenter announced this week that Hot Wheels will be issuing a die cast metal version of his famous car Christine, the 1959 Plymouth Fury from his horror film based on Stephen King’s novel. It doesn’t have a sound chip for playing Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin'” but it’s still going to be a cool mini-ride. Other new releases include Richard Dreyfuss’s truck from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Emergency! red rapid response truck from the 1970s TV series. Not familiar with the retro entertainment line from Hot Wheels? It gets better.
So far the Hot Wheels plant has rolled out something for everyone, coming up with a pretty broad array of vehicles. Remember the green GMC mobile home “Urban Assault Vehicle” from Stripes? It’s coming in 2015. Remember Mr. Miyagi’s yellow 1948 Ford–the one he gives as a gift to Daniel-san for finishing his karate training in The Karate Kid? They’ve got that, too.
The same agency that taunted James Bond in five classic James Bond films (Thunderball, Dr. No, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice) will be the title of the next Bond film, SPECTRE, the 24th in the current franchise and 26th to feature Bond if you include David Niven’s Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. SPECTRE, which stands for “SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion,” is the movie incarnation of the less gritty sounding SMERSH, a Russian acronym for “Special Methods of Spy Detection” in the original Ian Fleming Bond novels. Two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz will star as the next Bond villain, named Oberhauser. SPECTRE is also the agency led by fan favorite Bond villain Blofeld, which has led to speculation that Oberhauser is really an alias for Blofeld, like the much ballyhooed, almost-surprise villain Khan in the last Star Trek movie.
Although all Bond novel titles have been used for Bond films, unused titles for original Fleming authored Bond works include “The Hildebrand Rarity,” “Risico” or “The Double Take,” “007 in New York,” and “The Property of a Lady.” You Only Live Twice, Never Say Never Again, Licence to Kill, The World is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day, Goldeneye and Skyfall were sourced from concepts within the novels, and A View to a Kill taken from the story “From a View to a Kill.”
Even a slick new Aston Martin, the DB10 (shown above) is being rolled out for Bond for the next film. After the break check out the new title teaser video for the film.
Philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and so revisiting history via its primary sources should be no less important in studying the history of comics and animation. And with the benefit of our own personal wayback machines (spelled WABAC for you Mr. Peabody fans) sometimes our looks to the past are full of imagery and stories that make us squirm as our sensibilities have improved over time.
We visited this concept here at borg.com with our review of the even-too-sexist-for-a-Bond-novel The Spy Who Loved Me and racism-heavy Live and Let Die. Can you still enjoy these works knowing how skewed the world view was? I think the answer can be yes, as long as you maintain your critical eye and acknowledge the improvements we have made. Ignoring or dismissing these works outright would be worse.
Thanks to the folks at Warner Bros. we previewed a copy of Looney Tunes–Platinum Collection, Volume 3, on Blu-ray, and courtesy of IDW Publishing we have a preview for you of Superman: The Golden Age Sundays (1946-1949), after the break.
Who doesn’t remember and cherish the great Looney Tunes cartoons of the mid-20th century, recycled decades after their creation for a 1970s and 1980s cable viewing audience thanks to Saturday morning cartoons? But, like many comic books and superhero movies today, you might use discretion before sharing with young audiences. Even the originals were intended for adult movie audiences and it’s amazing networks thought these were once appropriate for kids each Saturday. And where you may think you watched these cartoons and turned out fine and bigot-free, what about that guy across the street?
We’re always on the lookout for the next James Bond. Three years ago we here at borg.com nominated Rufus Sewell here and Paul Blackthorne (Arrow, Dresden Files) and Jason Isaacs (Awake, Harry Potter) here. Fortunately Daniel Craig doesn’t appear to be giving up his Walther PPK or Aston Martin anytime soon. But what about the British number one heartthrob, Colin Firth?
Now we at least have an idea of what Firth’s Bond might look like with the preview to the 2016 release Kingsman: The Secret Service this week. Admittedly we first thought this trailer was for a remake of the classic British spy series The Avengers, with Firth as John Steed. Ralph Fiennes, the newest M in the James Bond franchise, was the latest to don the famous bowler hat and umbrella for that role. Firth would have been a good choice for that role, but he also seems to be summoning a little foppish Peter Sellers from the original Casino Royale, too.
Based on the six issue comic book mini-series Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class), this latest spy flick has Firth mentoring a street-kid for possible inclusion in a secret spy society. That mentoring makes this movie give off a vibe like another great coming of age flick of years past, The Freshman, starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick. If Kingsman is half as good as that film, we’ve got something to look forward to.
That is, if you’re in Scotland.
Census records estimate that more than twice as many people of Scottish ancestry live in the United States than in Scotland. Is it the destiny of Scotland to declare its independence from Great Britain? If not now, then when? At the beginning of the day everyone has been waiting for, polls show the likely outcome as a dead heat. We’ll soon learn the answer we’ve all been asking: Will they or won’t they?
Of course there are all sorts of implications to a yes vote, not the least of which is what kind of economic impact it will have on England, on the United States, and the world. If Scotland wants to make a statement to the world this could very well be Scotland’s day. So if you’re one of those Scots that are 16 years old or older and done voting or you’re in the States and can’t vote today, then what better than a brief celebration of all things Scottish? As Mike Myers’ character Stuart Rankin, proprietor of the store “All Things Scottish,” said on Saturday Night Live, “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”
Scotland is well known for its inventors and their inventions. You wouldn’t be reading this website or surfing the Internet at all without the communications technologies that sprouted from Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. John Logie Baird would invent the first television. Scots invented the refrigerator and the flush toilet, the kaleidoscope and the lawnmower. And–shazam–James Goodfellow invented ATMs so we can get money to buy stuff on nearly any street corner.
Our future is defined in part by the adventures of a Scot in space–James Doohan’s Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott from Star Trek, an engineering miracle worker who exemplifies Scottish ingenuity. And of course, there’s James Bond, the character, whose parents were Scottish, and Sir Sean Connery, the Scottish actor, the most famous Bond, and a supporter of today’s “yes” vote.
This weekend’s release of the first trailer for The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, a role originally cast in the 1980s by British actor Edward Woodward in a successful four-season television series, brings up yet again the age-old question of when you can change a character’s race or sex in a retelling and when you can’t, or shouldn’t.
Can Kojak, originally played by Telly Savalas, an American actor of Greek heritage, be played by a black actor, so long as he’s also bald (as played by Ving Rhames in the 2005 remake)?
When adapting comic books to film, can you change Perry White (as in The Amazing Spider-man series) and Nick Fury ( as in The Avengers movie series) from white to black? Can you change Johnny Storm from white to Latin (as in the next Fantastic Four)? Does it matter that his sister is played by someone white? What if the sister is Latin and the brother is white (as in the first Fantastic Four movies)? Should Wonder Woman be played by anyone who isn’t Greek (see American Lynda Carter in the 1970s TV series or Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the forthcoming Superman vs Batman)? Can Harvey Dent be black (as played by Billy Dee Williams in the 1989 Batman)? A black orphan Annie (another new film)?
How much of any of these characters–the essential elements of these characters–is about what their race is? Is any?
Review by C.J. Bunce
The fifth James Bond novel, From Russia with Love, was a popular mainstream read back in 1957. One of President Kennedy’s favorite books, the film adaptation would be the last movie he would ever see before that fateful trip to Dallas in 1963. From Russia with Love reflects a lot about the Cold War era and Europe in the late 1950s. As part of the James Bond universe it is a rare faithful adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel. And, unlike some of Fleming’s Bond novels that fail to hold up to modern sensibilities, including The Spy Who Loved Me (previously reviewed here) and Live and Let Die (reviewed here), From Russia with Love is full of political intrigue and spymastery, putting it toward the top of Bond’s adventures along with the novels Casino Royale and Moonraker.
A nice twist is the admission within the story of the more ludicrous elements, as just that, ludicrous. Namely, the plot focuses on a sort of off-the-book operation by SMERSH (SPECTRE in the film, the Soviet secret spy program), and its efforts to kill Bond and exact revenge on MI6 through an elaborate sex scandal plot, all for the deaths by Bond of Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and Hugo Drax in Moonraker and other bruises to the Soviets. Its means? By assigning a Soviet cipher clerk (think Bletchley Circle) named Tatiana Romanova, stationed in a consulate in Istanbul, to pretend to fall in love with a photo of Bond and attempt defection to Great Britain. The catch? Only James Bond can collect her in Turkey and bring her over to the Brits. Dangling the carrot of a Spektor code breaker machine that the Brits have never been able to get their hands on, she’s SMERSH’s best bet to finally bring Bond to his knees. Thankfully, MI6 doesn’t blindly jump right in–MI6 sees it as an obvious trap, yet the value of the code breaker is too good to pass up, and it’s just the type of mission Bond is good at.
There’s more to From Russia with Love than the typical Bond novel. Sure, there’s the suave spy, the womanizing, the “Bond girl,” the martinis. There’s also the exotic locations. You’ll get the feel you’ve been to Istanbul, to the “stinking streets” of the city, to the Soviet consulate, the SMERSH training grounds, to a party and fight and bombing at a Gypsy village, and a ride on that famous train, the Orient Express.