Tag Archive: James Bond


Beast of the Stapletons

Review by C.J. Bunce

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 story The Hound of the Baskervilles finds a sequel 120 years later in the latest Sherlock Holmes spin-off novel from writer James Lovegrove.  Readers will find further adventures of not only that novella, but more connections to past works in Sherlock Holmes and The Beast of the Stapletons, a novel in the same series as the author’s Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon, previously reviewed here at borg.   The question for readers of Lovegrove’s other works, including his Cthulhu Casebook novels and other stories from Titan Books, is: Will he or won’t he? That is, will the beast of the title be something out of the real world (as in Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon) or, as in his Cthulhu tie-ins, something from the world of fantasy?  The best part of this story is the absence for the bulk of the tale of Sherlock’s right arm, Dr. John Watson, who tends toward the whiny and needy in past recent retellings.  A new, interesting foil steps in for this mystery, taking Holmes more in the direction of another famous British franchise.

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It was only a little more than six years ago that we were discussing here at borg the first trailer for the first reboot of The Equalizer What would become two major action blockbusters starred Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, a role originally cast in the 1980s by British actor Edward Woodward in a successful four-season television series.  Denzel proved exactly what we believed:  What made McCall’s character had nothing to do with the color of his skin.  In fact Washington’s retired former special ops operative was one of the best badass action characters to hit the big screen in the past decade–Washington truly made the character his own.  Next month the series gets its second reboot as Queen Latifah fills in the shoes as lead heroine, playing not Robert but Robyn McCall in the new network TV series The Equalizer Check out the trailer for the series below.

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It’s one of our favorite tropes, and now it means the pairing of the most unlikely characters.  James Bond teaming up with Ernst Stavro Blofeld against a common foe?  Where do we sign up?

At your local comic shop, coming in March 2021.

James Bond: Agent of SPECTRE is Dynamite Comics’ next James Bond serialized monthly comic book story, sure to resurrect the double-agent element of some of the best Bond stories.  TV screenwriter Christos Gage (Daredevil, Hawaii Five-O) will partner with the artist known for defining the retro style of the 21st century Bond comics, Luca Casalanguida, who we’ve seen on so many 007 titles, including Hammerhead, Kill Chain, and The Body, with colors by Heather Moore.

We’ve seen several appearances of Blofeld on the big screen, and from some major dramatic actors.  So which Blofeld style do you think Casalanguida will go for?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of James Bond have six reasons to check out a new graphic novel arriving tomorrow at comic book stores everywhere.  Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007: Reflections of Death combines the writing talents of comics creators Benjamin Percy, Greg Pak, Andy Diggle, Gail Simone, Mark Russell, Vita Ayala, and Danny Lore, with the artwork of Dean Kotz, Luca Casalanguida, Kewber Baal, Eoin Marron, Robert Carey, Jordi Perez, and Fay Dalton.  The result is a single graphic novel finding Moneypenny kidnapped and drugged, forced to recount some telling exploits of our favorite 00 spy.

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No Time to Die It will be the 25th official James Bond movie and the 27th if you include the independent movie Never Say Never Again and the first version of Casino Royale, all part of the longest running blockbuster franchise that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica.  His peace is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.  The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.  The premiere of No Time to Die said to be the last Daniel Craig stint as James Bond – was delayed due to studio concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.  The next, action-packed movie trailer for No Time to Die is here (check it out below).  The film is now slated for a November release.  But does anyone think crowds will return to theaters by then?

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We were fans of the first volume of Dynamite Comics’ new look at James Bond’s backstory in Ian Fleming’s James Bond Origin, Volume 1, previewed here at borg.  This week the second volume of the story is scheduled to arrive in comic shops as a 148-page hardcover, and we have a preview for borg readers below.

It’s World War II.  A Norwegian supply ship carrying gold mysteriously sinks.  A Russian crew claims the Nazis are responsible.  And Royal Navy Lieutenant James Bond suspects foul play.

It’s a bit Raiders of the Lost Ark with a heavy Tom Clancy vibe.  And very loyal to Fleming’s character in the novels.

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The Ninth Doctor, Darth Vader, Superman, James Bond’s Q, Lt. Cmdr. Data, Ahsoka Tano, Ariel-The Little Mermaid, a Mythbuster, a slate of characters from the CW Arrowverse, Stranger Things, and The Karate Kid, and more are heading to Kansas City

For twenty-one years Planet Comicon Kansas City has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  And it’s only gotten bigger.  Last year’s show featured guests including Henry Winkler, William Shatner, John Wesley Shipp, Cary Elwes, and Joonas Suotamo, and this year more of the most memorable names from TV and movies from the past and present are slated to attend.  Leading things off, The Doctor is In–The Ninth Doctor to be exact–Christopher Eccleston, star of Doctor Who who also played villains in Thor: The Dark World and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, will make his first appearance at the annual event, which takes place at Kansas City’s convention center at Bartle Hall, March 20-22, 2020.

Fan-favorite nerd, cosplayer, builder, and either your first or second favorite Mythbuster, Adam Savage will be making his first appearance at the show.  Making their second appearances at the event are star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (and Guardians of the Galaxy and Harry Potter universe actor) Darth Vader actor Spencer Wilding and Star Trek legend–Data himself (and Dr. Soong, Lore, and B9)–beloved actor Brent Spiner.  After several appearances of past Superman actors, Midwest native Brandon Routh is finally coming to PCKC.  He’ll be joined by other CW Arrowverse actors, Rachel Skarsten (in her second Kansas City convention appearance), plus Katie Cassidy, Kevin Conroy, Jes Macallen, Courtney Ford, and Caity Lotz.

Two Yutes?  My Cousin Vinny, The Outsiders, and Crossroads star Ralph Macchio is making his first appearance at PCKC.  Joining him are his co-stars from The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai, Martin Kove and William ZabkaStranger Things fans can meet stars Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gabriella Pizzolo.  To top it all off, formerly James Bond’s Q and Monty Python comedy legend, John Cleese is making his first convention appearance in Kansas City.  And perennial Planet Comicon Kansas City guest, the original Hulk, Lou Ferrigno will be back in town for the event.

–there’s something for every TV and movie fanboy and fangirl at this year’s show.

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Bond IMAX

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) have finally had an impact on movie theaters.  As companies like Twitter and Facebook are pulling out of Austin’s South by Southwest annual festival, and major guests and vendors have canceled their attendance at Seattle’s annual Emerald City Comic Con (including DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics), the first major motion picture is getting bumped amid concerns of a predicted decline in movie theater attendance.  NBC reports that delaying the release of the eagerly awaited film No Time to Die–said to be the last Daniel Craig stint as James Bond–was due to studio concerns about the virus.  Internationally, China, France, Switzerland, Italy, South Korea, and other countries have seen event closings and delays in recent weeks, with the film market already taking a hit in China, South Korea, and Italy.

On Wednesday, the official James Bond 007 social media account posted the following:

MGM, Universal and Bond producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, announced today that after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace, the release of NO TIME TO DIE will be postponed until November 2020.

So the 25th official Bond film that was almost here moves from next month to Thanksgiving weekend.  Until then, audiences will have to wait for their next Bond fix–Maybe dream about getting your own Aston Martin as part of an offer in conjunction with the film’s release (below), or a sweater like Daniel Craig wears in the new film.

NTTD pic

Check out these features, tie-ins, and trailers for No Time to Die below, including director Cary Joji Fukunaga discussing the film:

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If you didn’t know her before you may have heard her powerful, soulful rendition of The Beatles’ song Yesterday performed with the photo montage memoriam during this year’s Oscar ceremony.  Eighteen-year-old singer Billie Eilish is the latest songwriter/singer whose work will define a James Bond film when No Time to Die debuts in theaters in April.  Eilish is the youngest person and second person ever to win the four main Grammy categories (Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist), and now, co-writing the song with her brother Finneas O’Connell (Glee), Eilish becomes the youngest performer to headline a Bond theme.  The song features guitarist Johnny Marr, with orchestral arrangements by Hans Zimmer and Matt Dunkley.  She’ll perform the song live for the first time at the Brit Awards in London Tuesday.

Compare her No Time to Die (listen to the full song below) to Sam Smith’s Writing’s On the Wall from Spectre and you’ll notice a familiar framework.  Eilish doesn’t have the mature voice of Adele, as demonstrated in her passionate and aching theme to Skyfall.  Eilish opts for cracking whispers over the fuller sound of Bassey or Adele.  But clearly all three of these most recent performers for Bond films borrow something from Bassey’s sultry performances of early Bond themes.  Be sure to listen for musical cues and motifs from familiar Bond themes of years past dotting the background of Eilish’s song.  Note: The version on Eilish’s YouTube page probably doesn’t match what will hopefully be a cleaner, clearer edit used for the expected stylized opening credits sequence in the film–you may need to listen twice to catch all the lyrics, or watch this version with printed lyrics here.

Listen to all the prior Bond themes and watch all the corresponding opening credit sequences at our borg rundown of the themes here.  Then vote in our James Bond Theme Song Poll below for your favorite:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Goldfinger.  It’s surprising that a novel, a word, a song, and a character James Bond is so well known for didn’t arrive until Ian Fleming’s seventh novel in the series.  Goldfinger is a novel to revisit, one of the better of Fleming’s efforts, defining so much about what we know as James Bond today.  That prolonged car chase.  The requisite run-through of the spy agency’s cutting-edge techno-gadgets.  The over-the-top situations.  Already locked in 60 years ago when Goldfinger arrived on paperback racks in 1959 were the franchise’s womanizing, the liquor and dinner delicacies, Fleming’s ability to offend select groups with each subsequent novel (this time his target is Koreans and lesbians), and that same, cold-hearted, hardened spy.  Its film adaptation five years later would become one of the most popular, the third film to feature the British spy, the one that would cement a theme for Bond thanks to a song by John Barry (with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, memorably performed by Shirley Bassey), and a story most faithfully adapted in the popular comic strip of the 1960s (see our review of that version of the story here).

Although all the Bond novels can be read in any order, Goldfinger is a direct sequel to his first, Casino Royale, spinning a character out of the key baccarat game and a chance encounter at an American airport.  The first half of this novel parallels Casino Royale so much readers may think Fleming literally superimposed sections of this over his first.  In Goldfinger we view Bond in a lengthy, and fascinatingly compelling golf game, matching the import and stakes of his famous baccarat game in Casino Royale.  Who knew the anger and strategy that could go through the mind of Bond over a game of golf? And both novels begin with a similar cold, detached kill by Bond.  Chance and coincidence are focal themes.  One of Fleming’s clever strengths here, being aware of including so many coincidences that the story hinges on, is highlighting that fact unapologetically, even acknowledging it through the dialogue of Bond and his foe.

 

For those who viewed the movie version first, they should be pleasantly surprised as the stories track better than most Bond titles.  We meet this incredible villain, Auric Goldfinger, fascinated with and addicted to gold, bent on being the richest man in the world, a master architect of destruction and planning, yet also dumb enough to leave a brand on his own gold bars, and idly wasting his time duping a hotel guest on a game of canasta, which proves to be his downfall.  We also meet his henchman, Oddjob, the short, rotund Korean man with a rather sharp-brimmed bowler hat.

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