Time weighs heavily on James Bond in Daniel Craig’s final outing.
No Time To Die, the 25th film in the beloved James Bond franchise, had quite the tortuous road to cinemas, as reported in several posts here on Out Of Dave’s Head: the hiring and departure of director and writer Danny Boyle and John Hodge, replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga and long-time Bond scribes Neil Purvis and Robert Wade (with the later addition of Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and then the little matter of a worldwide pandemic, saw Bond 25 shift from it’s original release date of November 2019 several times until it’s eventual release this week.
So it’s pleasing to report that the finished production shows little of the troubled path taken by its long development. No Time To Die is a fine addition to the long-running series, and a superb send-off for the Daniel Craig era.
Opening with the first ever flashback sequence seen in a Bond film, the first indication of time’s conceptual importance here and the closest Bond has ever come to horror, the story then shifts to pick up almost where the previous entry, Spectre, left off: with Bond and Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann driving off into the sunset for a life of bliss. But fate (and the scriptwriters) have other plans for the couple as both of their pasts catch up with them in a fantastic action sequence through the streets of Maltera, Italy.
Five years later and Bond and Swann are in very different places, but the past refuses to die, bringing together a plot to eradicate large portions of the population of the world, with many of the characters who have featured in Craig’s Bond’s narrative, from Casino Royale onwards.
The film is not without its faults, the twin villain strands detract from each other, leaving Rami Malek’s terrorist Lyutsifer Safin curiously underdeveloped, the editing often feels like sequences have been cut too short (particularly affecting Malek’s character in the climax), and Lashana Lynch’s much heralded new 007, Nomi, is something of a characterless let-down and a creative dead end.
But No Time To Die is excitingly directed by Fukungawa, with some genuinely breathtaking sequences and it all moves at a great pace (despite a little wavering in the middle third). The film’s secret weapon, Ana de Armas, is a delight and a joy, playing against the character’s initial impression to become one of the highlights in a sequence set in Cuba that manages to be both a throwback to the classic Bond elements of charm and style while simultaneously updating those elements with humour and panache. The campaign for her character, Paloma, to get her own spin-off movie, officially starts here!
Everything leads towards an ending which, though somewhat messy in execution, has a huge emotional pay-off, something that hasn’t really been achieved in a Bond film since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in 1969. It’s a massively bold choice for Bond and one for which the makers should be applauded. To say I was in tears would be an understatement.
Mention of George Lazenby’s only outing as Ian Fleming’s character is entirely appropriate, as that film is quite deliberately echoed both in one of the film’s thematic conceits and indeed in reprising John Barry’s song, We Have All The Time In The World. Long time Bond fans will appreciate the callback and newbies will immediately recognise the weight it gives to No Time To Die‘s story.
Craig’s Tom Ford boots are going to be difficult to fill, as both he and the producers caught the zeitgeist, with Craig playing against the archetype to make Bond a deeper, richer and more human character. His unconventionally handsome, rock-face features and pugnacious interpretation of Bond will be greatly missed. But his time in the role has been rightly celebrated in his imperfect but courageous final outing, proving that the Bond franchise still has the ability to surprise, after all this time.
Following the film’s emotional denouement, it was indeed something of a relief, for those of us who stayed in the cinema to watch the credits roll, to read the familiar final caption: James Bond Will Return.
Godzilla vs Kong – come for the monsters, forget about the humans.
The important point first: Legendary’s Monsterverse mash-up is a HUGE amount of fun. The storyline is enjoyable, and while scrupulously avoiding spoilers, I’m happy to announce that the monster action is bug nuts crazy. And there is a LOT of action, and there are a LOT of monsters.
Kong and Godzilla are the final remaining apex predators among Earth’s titans, so the stage is set very simply to bring the two into conflict. And those conflicts will absolutely not disappoint: huge, ear-shattering, eye-popping battles that really deserve to be seen on the biggest possible screen, with the best sound system you can find.
Then there’s the plot. Well, that’s gossamer thin but a heap of fun too, pure sci-fi pulp, involving the search for a power source that ties together threads from previous entries in the franchise.
So that’s the good news. The bad news is the human protagonists: the Team Kong gang (Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle) are written almost entirely without character, very nearly complete blanks. But at least they carry their section of the plot by sheer force of likeability, thanks to the actors. The real problem comes with Team Godzilla.
A returning Millie Bobby Brown is pretty much wasted (particularly so considering the easy shorthand she should have provided from our previous encounter with her character), while her partners-in-exposition, Brian Tyree Henry and Julian Dennison, are two of the most absurdly irritating, charm free zones to grace the screen in quite a while, whose every attempt at humour falls resoundingly flat. I felt them derailing the film every time they appeared, which thankfully isn’t too often. Demián Bichir props up part of the plot reasonably but not memorably, while Kyle Chandler pops in and out briefly without affecting much of anything. They’re all shockingly poorly written, so let’s quickly move on…
Without a doubt, the strongest characters are the title stars; Godzilla takes more of a secondary role, but that works effectively in providing a suitable threat to Kong, whose arc here builds on the mythology in a curiously compelling way.
I had a great time with Godzilla vs Kong – particularly in the climax, as the titans go to town on each other in a neon-drenched Hong Kong, a quite beautiful sequence of which director Adam Wingard can be rightly proud. But it does feel like this should probably be the, mostly satisfying, conclusion to the Monsterverse.
You’ll enjoy yourself as much as I did if you go in knowing this is ALL about the monsters.
We haven’t spoken before about the forthcoming film adaptation of Dune here at Out of Dave’s Head, so let’s rectify that with the arrival of the first trailer.
The road to the screen (and the planet Arrakis) has been a long one for this production but it looks like the wait will have been worth it.
The director, Denis Villeneuve, has a pretty impressive track record with films including Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 under his belt, and that cast is simply phenomenal, including Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Issac, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgård and Rebecca Ferguson (in case you weren’t paying attention to that trailer).
But Dune is a notoriously tough nut to crack in transporting author Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel to the screen. Just ask David Lynch. It’s certainly a good omen that the director recognised the world of Dune was too complex for a single film and insisted on splitting the first book into two parts.
However, this is a huge undertaking and that sequel is not yet a certainty. Production company Legendary have not officially greenlit it, so if you want to see the conclusion get out there, buy tickets and see this film at a cinema (observing safe social distancing, naturally).
Fingers crossed that Villeneuve and company succeed, and we can all find out when Dune opens in December.
Start your engines! The Batman director Matt Reeves has just revealed his version of the Batmobile. And, well, here it is…
There’s not much more to say at this point, except that it looks nicely slimmed down from recent chunky cinematic Batmobiles, and to this old Bat Fan’s eyes, it has something of the feel of both the 1970s comic book sports car versions designed by the likes of Bob Brown, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano and the sleek number designed by the late, great artist Norm Breyfogle, for his excellent run in the 1980s. And that’s a good thing.
Meanwhile, The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The cast also includes Zoe Kravtiz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, John Turturro as crime boss Carmine Falcone, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred and Peter Sarsgaard as Gotham City DA Gil Colson.
The film will be released June 25th, 2021.
Things have been relatively quiet on the Marvel front post-Endgame/Far From Home, but now you can get your Marvel geek on again with the Black Widow teaser trailer…
…that looks like a whole bunch of fun.
Scarlet Johansson and Rachel Weisz are always good value, Florence Pugh is increasingly on my radar after Midsommar and, honestly, who doesn’t want to see David Harbour squeeze his dad bod into the Red Guardian’s costume (straight out of the comics, natch)!?
I’m sure we’ll be getting a more expansive trailer closer to the film’s May release, but honestly, I’m sold already.
Black Widow moves us fully into the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four on May 1st, 2020 and I am all here for it.
Exclusive set report on a new horror movie filmed here in Norway, starring Barbara Crampton.
The mountains around Bjørke are extraordinarily beautiful, forming a soaring, jagged cradle around the small village in the rugged western fjords of Norway. But on the summer evening I visit the location, for the filming of a new British horror movie, The Colour of Madness, at the end of a cloudless and unseasonably hot day, that cradle feels somewhat more ominous.
Maybe it’s the décor of the cabin that the crew are holed up inside that helps create the atmosphere, a typical small wooden structure, with verging-on-kitsch late 1950s/early 1960s furniture. Look a little closer, however, and odd details begin to stand out; strange little betentacled knick-knacks, resembling unearthly octopi, and what’s that over the fireplace? Is that a grisly painting of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s Elder Gods?
A mysterious looking piece of set design
Clearly, dark deeds are afoot on the sweltering, busy set, underlined by the familiar appearance of a petite, graceful figure: Barbara Crampton, the much-loved star of classic genre films such as Re-Animator, From Beyond and We Are Still Here. The actor stands behind the cameras and prepares to shoot a short scene but makes a point of introducing herself to me and Jon, who’s here with me to snap some behind the scenes photos. Then the cameras are rolling, and Crampton is consoling a distraught character played by Sophie Stevens (The Haunted), handing her what looked to me like a suspicious glass of water. I spent some time talking in detail with Crampton about her life and career, so look out for that in an upcoming piece.
Star Barbara Crampton chats with Out of Dave’s Head’s editor
With Crampton’s shot in the can, the co-directors, Andy Collier and Toor Mian then busy themselves setting up a tricky POV shot from beneath a glass table, as Stevens’ character succumbs to unconsciousness, spilling the water she’s been drinking across its surface. I got the feeling water wouldn’t be the only liquid spilled during the film’s creepy storyline.
Co-Director Toor Mian (right) watches a shot being filmed
Shooting reached a break and the cast and crew gathered outside in the cooler air, with the mountains looming over us in the gathering darkness. I ask the directors what brought them to Norway? Had they always planned to film here? “Not at all,” says Mian, munching on some Norwegian-style bacalao, as part of a late crew dinner on the gently rolling hillside. “Originally, we set the story in Scotland, but honestly, so many productions have shot there recently, and we really wanted to avoid any kind of Wicker Man-feel, in terms of the look of the film. Plus, my Mum is Norwegian, so now here we are filming in the most expensive country on Earth!”
Directors Toor Mian & Andy Collier plot ghastly acts
“But it really feels right to be shooting here,” Mian says. “Because there’s such a big connection in the story between the sort of Lovecraftian Cthulhu elements and all the water around us! Plus, you know, look at this place!” He finishes on this point, indicating to the breathtaking natural scenery. “We get so much bang for our production bucks!”
Outside the cabin, on location in Bjørke, Norway
And how have they found filming in Bjørke? “Norway’s been great, not at all intrusive and really fluid!” Mian says. “And Bjørke’s been very easy to film in,” Collier adds. “We thought shooting in a tiny place like this might attract lots of local attention, but everyone has been brilliant. We were filming down at the harbour one day and this guy came in on his boat. He started asking a bit about the film, really interested in it all, but when he realised he’d be in shot he just said he’d move his boat somewhere else… and off he went!”
The inhabitants of this cabin clearly shop at Cthulhu-R-Us
Watching them in cramped, hot conditions, I noted the two directors keep a focused but light-hearted set. How do they split duties? “I tend to be more technical,” Collier replies. “Working on DOP stuff and with the camera.” “While I usually work more with the actors,” Mian finishes. Does this lead to any kind of tension between the two of them, I wonder? They both laugh and simultaneously reply “Only sexual tension!” I get the feeling they’ve been asked this before.
I’d recently watched the pair’s previous film, Charismata, and noted the callbacks to Alan Parker’s 1987 psychological horror, Angel Heart, as well as the visual cues taken from David Fincher’s Seven. What could they tell me about any such inspirations for their latest work?
“Nicolas Winding Refn!” says Collier, without missing a beat, before Mian adds “I think Drive is a big influence on this film, in terms of the way we’re approaching the narrative.” “And definitely The Neon Demon for the visuals.” Collier finishes. The pair obviously enjoy working together, as they weave in and out of each other’s sentences.
“But another big inspiration is John Carpenter’s The Thing,” says Mian. “We’re going full-on with practical effects, loads of Cthulhu monster tentacles and all kinds of horrible stuff!” “Films like The Howling, those great 80s horror movies with all the practical effects, all very tangible, that’s really the essence of what we’re going for!” Collier adds enthusiastically.
And what can you tell us about the plot of The Colour of Madness? “Not much!” says Collier. “Or we’d have to kill you!” Mian jokes, or at least I hope he was joking.
Barbara Crampton (right) practices some lines of dialogue in Norwegian
“One of our characters, Issac, played by Ludovic Hughes, returns to the remote Norwegian island where he grew up, after his mother dies,” continues Mian. “But on coming back with his pregnant wife they find things aren’t very welcoming and they quickly find themselves involved in a nightmare situation involving a Pagan cult, and, well… other things… ha ha.”
I wanted to move forward, to talk about what these two likeable creators have lined up for the future. “Well, there’s a film called Perpetual,” Mian offers. “That’s probably our next film.” I tell them I had read up about it and am intrigued by the potentially controversial plot, involving a small-town cop hunting a serial killer who leaves behind what seem to be Islamic terror calling cards in what’s left of his victims.
“Yeah, it’s a bit in limbo at the moment,” explains Collier, somewhat wearily. “We had some strong studio interest, but then they got cold feet over the subject matter. We’re quite prepped on it though, so as soon as the financing comes together, we’re good to go.”
“Plus we have a sort of medieval western we’re working on,” Mian adds. “The locations here would be perfect for that, so maybe we could even shoot that in Norway too.”
Maybe someone should advise Sophie Stevens not to drink that water
“We learn from each of our films,” Collier concludes, as the actors are dismissed for the day and wander off in the now-inky black Norwegian darkness while the crew wraps and prepares for a long night shoot the following evening. “And we’re getting more confident. The Colour of Madness is a big leap from Charismata, and I think horror fans will find a lot in it to get excited about!”
As Jon and I finished our visit and drove away into the night, we left feeling excited at what horrors these directors and their hard-working crew would unleash on the screen, and kept an extra-sharp eye out for tentacles as we drove past the nearby lake…
The Colour of Madness is now in post-production and will be released in 2020.
Words by Dave King/Pictures by Jon Harman
Set video by Jon Harman:
Okay, I know what you’re here for, so here’s the final Star Wars trailer ever…
Yeah, well, I lied, obviously. This isn’t the final Star Wars trailer ever, Disney have way too much invested into George Lucas’s baby for that, but it is the final trailer for the nine films which will comprise the Skywalker saga.
And in customary J J Abrams style, it looks beautiful, with some really stunning ‘trailer moments’. Let’s just hope he and the crew are able to pull this together for a satisfying film – it comes with rather a lot of baggage, of course, not least the ire of a lot of entitled man-babies who shed copious fanboy blood and fury blood over Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi.
Personally, I’m rather excited to see how this all wraps up, and now we’ll find out – after forty two years and eight previous movies. I guess I’ll see you in the queue for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 20th…
Welcome to Bollywood And Beyond, our new regular column looking at the incredible movies coming out of Bollywood and Indian cinema, with our host, Chris Conway.
Mission Mangal (translated as Mission Mars) tells the true story of the Indian Mars orbiter mission, that was successfully launched back in September, 2014. It’s not an action film or edge-of-seat drama, like Apollo 13, but like Ron Howard’s movie, it tells the audience a story we know has actually happened.
Initially announced in 2013 and going into production as the real-life Mars Orbiter was launched, the film’s story is loosely based on the lives of scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation and focuses on the largely female team and their driven mission director, who all made it happen against incredible odds.
Director Jagan Shakti (previously a second unit or assistant director on films including Dear Zindagi, Holiday and Thupakki) put together a very engaging cast: Akshay Kumar (one of Bollywood’s most prolific actors) is perfect as the slightly eccentric director, and among the female team is the always excellent Vidya Balan (from films including Lage Raho Munna Bhai) struggling to balance work with being a mom and wife. Sonakshi Sinha plays a smoking, serial dating propulsion expert, Tapsee Panu portrays a soldier’s wife and payload expert. Add a pregnant woman, a separated Muslim woman, a nerdy young guy and an elderly man (at 59?) – and that’s quite a team.
The main story follows the mission’s beginnings and the problems faced by the team along the way, allowing us to get to know and empathise with the characters. This is greatly helped with the inclusion of some gently funny scenes, highly enjoyable as Akshay and Vidya are such likeable actors.
It’s all been slightly romanticised, of course – several times a team member will find something from everyday life which is the solution to a problem, and the film doesn’t really do science – in fact the team always use simplified terms, even in mission control.
The film even slips a song or two in there, this is Bollywood, after all. You’d be disappointed if there were none (certainly Indian audiences would be).
Shakti (along with fellow writers R. Balki, Nidhi Singh Dharma and Saketh Kondiparthi) makes sure the story is big on Indian patriotism – and why not? It is the first Asian Mars mission (and the cheapest!) – but if you’re not in a hurry with the plot everything carries you along to a nice ending.
In fact, if you’re looking for a word to describe the film, “nice” would fit perfectly.
Chris Conway is a Bollywood enthusiast who sees at least twenty Bollywood films a year, often at Leicester’s Piccadilly Bollywood Cinema. He’s also a jazz pianist, vocalist, composer and songwriter who is currently celebrating his thirtieth year of recording and performing. He also loves cloudy days and J-pop.
Let’s get to that trailer first…
Intriguing, huh? Just look at the cast of Bombshell; Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman play real-life TV journalists Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, respectively, while Margot Robbie plays a fictional news producer named Kayla Pospisil (a composite of several real people).
The film, based on the true story of women associated with Fox News who went public with allegations against the network’s late founder, Roger Ailes, also stars John Lithgow (as Ailes) Malcolm McDowell (as Rupert Murdoch, no less), Mark Duplass, and Alice Eve. It’s written by Charles Randolph (co-writer of The Big Short) and directed by Jay Roach (the Austin Powers films, Meet The Parents and Trumbo), so this is quite the intriguing array of talent.
Add that to a sizzler of a real-life story (Ailes was a media consultant to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, and for Rudy Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign, and served in a similar capacity for Donald Trump, and became embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal in 2016), and we’re looking at something that could be a whole lot of fun.
I’m a big fan of all three of the lead actors, so I’m getting a big box of popcorn ready (actually, I’m not a fan of popcorn, I’ll be tucking into my usual Norwegian treat of Sursild – I’ll let you look those up if you don’t know what they are – but you get my point).
Bombshell opens December 20, 2019. Better start spreading the word.
Marvel’s The Avengers want you to Assemble. Strictly speaking, they want your credit card to assemble, but they’ll welcome you along for the ride.
The previously announced news that Marvel’s characters would join the famous parks was confirmed at today’s D23 expo, where they gave more information on the upcoming super-hero lands.
The Disney Parks blog announced:
“When guests visit Avengers Campus, they will become part of an interconnected, global story that spans from California to Paris to Hong Kong with the Avengers recruiting new extraordinary people to join them.”
Avengers Campus will open at various Disney theme parks in California and Paris, joining the just-opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction to lure in geeks. They will will incorporate the existing Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! and a new Spider-Man attraction that will invite “new recruits to “suit up” alongside Spider-Man with the Worldwide Engineering Brigade (WEB).”
The first phase of the Anaheim Avengers Campus is expected to open in 2020, so you’d better start saving your pennies or deciding which part of your soul you’ll hand to Disney now.