Well, well, well, it’s been a while since last April since we saw the Live Reveal of the cast/crew at Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Earlier today a tweet came announcing the title AND when we’ll see the movie!
My first reactions is, ‘Hmmm, I thought they’re gonna have another one word title like Skyfall and Spectre, but No Time To Die isn’t terrible, though the word ‘die’ has been kinda overused in this franchise. In any case, I quite like the retro font here and the title plays on the fact that Bond has left service. Well, temporarily anyway, the synopsis tells us he’ll take up the spy mantle when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
Despite rumors of numerous set problems, the 25th Bond film continues production in Jamaica and Pinewood Studios, UK. I follow director Cary Fukunaga on Instagram and he posts stuff pretty regularly. Last June, they even released a set video featuring Daniel Craig with Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter) and Lashana Lynch (Nomi) on set. I for one can’t wait to see miss Lynch being introduced as a female 007 (as I mentioned in this post).
No sign of Rami Malek just yet though, who I think is an inspired choice as a Bond villain. Apparently Malek signed on to do the role on one condition, and it totally make sense given his background.
Per EW, “It’s a great character and I’m very excited,” Rami, who is of Egyptian descent, is quoted as saying. “But that was one thing that I discussed with Cary. I said, ‘We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That’s not something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out.’ But that was clearly not his vision. So he’s a very different kind of terrorist.”
I’m curious to see how Malek fares as a young Bond villain, let’s hope he’ll do much better than poor Toby Stephens in Die Another Day (which basically the same meaning as No Time To Die?). I guess we’ll find out when the movie opens on Wednesday, 8 April 2020.
I thought as we start the new week, I’m doing something different. Yesterday I was guest podcasting at St Paul Filmcast, an awesome & prolific Twin Cities-based entertainment podcast that talks about movies and interviews various filmmakers. I’m privileged that podcaster/graphic novelist Nick Palodichuk invited me to talk about some of my favorite movies we saw in 2019.
Take a listen by clicking the logo below:
At the beginning of each episode, there’s a spot for dedication… I’m dedicating this podcast episode to all my wonderful BLOG CONTRIBUTORS: Laura S., Holly P., Ted S., Vitali G., Vince C. and most recently Andy S. Thank you guys!!
Here’s a sampling of some of the films I talked about in the episode…
I’ll be seeing Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD on Wednesday, so look for my review by this weekend!
Before the episode ended I also got to talk about the recent exciting news that BOND 25 will be introducing a female 007!
I had already talked about some of the things revealed in Bond 25 reveal last April where they introduced Lashana Lynch as one of the new cast members, along with Ana de Armas and Rami Malek. Well, now we know just who she’ll be playing!
“The 25th film opens with Bond (Daniel Craig), retired in Jamaica, being called back to action to fight a new villain. There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says, ‘Come in 007,’ and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman. It’s a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond but he’s been replaced as 007.”
Now, it’s entirely possible that the fact that Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of the Bond 25 screenwriters has something to do with this. After all, she is the creator of the hit series Killing Eve where Sandra Oh who’s a woman of Korean descent plays an MI5 agent. Now, to those who are up in arms over this [puh-leeze], 007 is just a spy code name. Yes, there is only going to be one James Bond (and will likely always be portrayed by a white male), but anyone could be assigned to be a 007. I really think this is a step in the right direction for the 57-year-old franchise, while still maintaining status quo.
Now, as for the casting of Lashana Lynch, I’m glad they went with a British-Jamaican actress, as is Naomie Harris who plays Moneypenny. It totally make sense the fact that some parts of the film takes place in Jamaica, a key location for the Bond franchise as the place the franchise was created by Ian Fleming. So they’re going back to their roots, so to speak. Despite all the behind-the-scenes and on-set dramas surround this movie, I’m now even more excited to see what director Cary Joji Fukunaga would do with Bond 25!
So tell me what’s your favorite movie(s) you’ve seen so far? And what do YOU think of the female 007 news?
Ok, as a massive Bond fan, today’s a big day. Somehow I missed the news that they were going to do a LIVE stream right from Goldeneye, Ian Fleming’s legendary Jamaican villa. Yep, the same exact location where Fleming wrote all those 007 novels.
Apparently next week on April 28 the cast/crew will begin to shoot the still-nameless Bond movie and Daniel Craig will be back to reprise his role as 007.
Yeah, so much for all those rumors about who’ll be the next Bond. I mean, the 25th Bond film isn’t out in the US until April 8, 2020 (April 3 in the UK and internationally), but of course the rumor mill will continue endlessly.
In any case, below is the video of the Live Reveal, which honestly isn’t the most exciting video despite it being in such a glorious location. Even most of the cast seemed in a rather gloomy mood, and Craig himself struggled to give a shit explain about the enduring appeal of James Bond when he’s asked that question, ha!
Before I get to the cast, well the main things are who’s making the movie. It’s been confirmed that Cary Joji Fukunaga will direct the film. I’ve only seen one of his films, Jane Eyre, but he’s well-known by US audiences since Beast of No Nation (starring fan-favorite for Bond, Idris Elba) and True Detective series. I gotta say the Japanese-American filmmaker is handsome and dapper enough to actually play 007 (that is in a world where someone of his ethnicity could actually be cast as James Bond)
As for the script, longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis & Robert Wade wrote the original script but now they’re bringing in Scott Z. Burns (Bourne Ultimatum, Contagion, The Informant!) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator of Killing Eve series). I actually knew that Scott Z. Burns is involved in Bond 25 when I attended a panel honoring him at the Minneapolis St Paul Film Festival (MSPIFF) where he talked about his roots growing up in Golden Valley, Minnesota and went on to be one of the most acclaimed and prolific writer/director in Hollywood. He might be the first writer to tackle Bourne AND Bond, and I for one am excited to see what he’ll bring to the table.
Now the cast…
Returning cast are Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Léa Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Jeffrey Wright.
I pretty much love every single one of those returning cast members. I do miss Dame Judi Dench as M, but Fiennes is terrific as M. I also love Harris as Money Penny, Whishaw as Q and Wright as Felix. A truly solid group there in Bond’s corner.
INTRODUCING new cast members:
Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, David Dencik, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen and Rami Malek.
Now, out of the new group, I’m most intrigued by Lashana Lynch and Rami Malek’s casting. I quite like Lynch as Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel. I didn’t even know she’s British until I saw her speak in this video, super cool! She and Naomie Harris both have Jamaican roots, so this project must be extra special for them.
As for Rami, this is his first high profile role he’s doing since he won an Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody AND looks like he’s going to play a Bond villain. He said in a video message that “I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in his 25th outing.”
I know a lot of people are probably excited for Malek’s casting but at this point it’s kind of meh. Yes I like the diverse casting here. He is Egyptian-American and a good actor, but I don’t see the boyish-looking 38-year old as having the kind of gravitas I expect as a classic Bond villain. Heck, it would have been awesome to see Idris Elba as a Bond villain, now THAT’s a guy that could give any Bond actor a run for his money and he’d probably steal all his ladies, too. If they were bold enough, why not someone like Viola Davis as a Bond villain?
In any case, there are rumors that Christoph Waltz would also be returning as Blofeld. Now I like him as an actor, but he’s so rubbish inSpectre I really don’t care to see him again. So I guess it remains to be seen how Malek would fare in the role, I suppose I should give him the benefit of the doubt.
One thing I am excited about is that Bond is returning to his Jamaican roots. Not only did Fleming wrote his Bond novels in Jamaica, but that’s where the entire franchise kicked off as Dr. No with Sean Connery was filmed there in 1962. Barbara Broccoli gave some hints to the plot in the reveal, “Bond is not on active service when the film starts. He is enjoying himself in Jamaica. We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home. He starts his journey here.” According to Fukunaga, they already shot parts of the movie in Norway (due to weather), but they’ll resume filming in Jamaica the following weeks, Matera in Southern Italy and also Pinewood studios in London.
Well, what do YOU think about Bond 25 news? Let’s hear it!
I think it goes without saying that Captain Marvel is an important milestone. It’s not the first movie featuring a female superhero, but it’s the first out of the gate out of the behemoth Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Honestly, I try to tune out the buzz around this movie, something that’s getting increasingly difficult in the social media age. I only watched the trailer twice and didn’t read anything else, preferring to go into this movie as ‘blindly’ as possible.
The movie takes place in the mid 90s and the movie starts off in a planet called Hala, part of the Kree Empire. A woman called Vers (Brie Larson) is suffering from recurring nightmares with visions of an older woman. Her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Benning), some kind of AI being that rules Kree, keeps telling her to keep her emotions in check. Vers doesn’t remember who she is, and we’re not told as to why she suffers from amnesia (if that is even the case). As I’m not familiar with the comics, it’s all a bit bewildering, and perhaps that’s intentional given the state of disorientation that Vers find herself in.
Soon we get to see a battle sequence between the Kree undercover soldiers and their longtime enemy, the alien shapeshifters known as the Skrulls. My mind wanders a bit as more fight and action stuff happen on screen … until Vers ends up in a pod heading to Planet C-53, then crash landed in a very familiar place, earth. I won’t spoil where she lands exactly, though it’s actually in the trailers. In any case, I perk up again when I see S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, still two-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), both have been digitally de-aged considerably. I feel that the movie’s pace gets more interesting once Vers and Fury team up, and along the way we meet Goose the cat. I think I can watch an entire hour of just Fury and Goose, they’re quite the unlikely friends I never knew I needed!!
It’s no surprise that Vers has a past life on earth. We just don’t know who is she exactly and who woman the woman is who’s been in her dreams (or is it actually a memory?) Fury and Vers discovered that Vers is actually Carol Danvers and she was a U.S. Air Force pilot who’s been presumed dead for six years. The key to who she really is lies in her bestie Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and some of my favorite moments happen in her New Orleans’ home, involving the Skrull leader Talos (seriously, can’t they pick a name more dissimilar from Thanos??), played brilliantly by Ben Mendelsohn. One thing I like about this movie is how it plays with my expectations as to who the real enemy is. I guess comic fans might already figured that part out, but to a casual fan like me, I thought that part is handled well.
Overall I think Captain Marvel is a fun addition to the MCU canon. However, I can’t help but wish I liked her character more by the end of the movie. Now, before you accuse me of not being supportive of the first MCU female superhero, please hear me out. As a female filmmaker AND a female film critic, naturally I want to root for this movie and I do recognize its importance in the genre. Yet something is wanting… by the time the end credits rolled, I just didn’t feel emotionally-connected to her the way I did with say, Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, or even other characters in MCU… Captain America, Black Panther, Tony Stark, Black Widow, even Thor who’s also an alien being. I’m not comparing these movies, each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but given the importance of Captain Marvel to the MCU as a whole and to Avengers: Endgame specifically, I think it’s fair to expect something more impactful.
I do want to say that Brie Larson is a terrific actress and I can’t really imagine another actress who’d be perfect for the job. Yet her character arc isn’t really compelling …there wasn’t much transformation before and after she discovered her real identity. Perhaps if Danvers had started out being a bit more lost or downcast as a result of her amnesia, her character might’ve been more impactful. I think the biggest opportunity for emotional resonance is in the relationship between Danvers and Maria, and even with Talos towards the end. Yet their scenes barely tug my heartstrings the way Steve Rogers and Bucky’s friendship did in the first Captain America. Actually, the only part I teared up a bit was when the movie paid tribute to the late Stan Lee.
Performance-wise, there’s an effortless chemistry between Captain Marvel and Nick Fury that’s really fun to watch. Goose the cat is obviously a hoot, which is quite a feat given how challenging it must be to direct cats to do anything! I’m not particularly fond of Annette Benning’s casting here, though I adore her as an actress. She seems like she wanted to laugh every time she uttered her lines which I find distracting. Jude Law is pretty memorable though Ben Mendelsohn is much more the scene-stealer.
I do have to give props to the duo filmmakers, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck for tackling such a difficult character to begin with (more on that in a bit), especially since this is Captain Marvel’s first intro ever in the MCU. At least with Wonder Woman, we had at least seen her as part of the DC superheroes in Batman v Superman before she got her standalone movie. The filmmakers embraced the weirdness nature of Danver’s character and origin story, and gives the movie a the funky retro vibe and an overall lightness in tone. I also appreciate the fact that there isn’t a romantic plot in her story which I find refreshing. I’m not against it if it’s organic to the story, but in this case it’s just unnecessary.
The highlights for me are the humorous scenes involving Fury, Goose and Talos. Given that I grew up in the 90s, the retro set pieces are quite amusing… I smile gleefully imagining Millennial moviegoers watching all those ‘ancient’ technology such as pager, computer CD drive, modem, etc as if those are relics from the past… man, those are stuff I had to use in college! As far as the retro soundtrack goes, the fact that we’ve heard it before in the Guardians movies, the novelty’s sort of worn off by now.
I think what makes Captain Marvel an inherently tricky character to bring to life is that she’s so mega powerful. Many filmmakers often speak of how difficult it is to tackle an all-powerful character like Superman and make him/her relatable. Even the Russo Brothers chimed in about that very topic in this article, which makes me really curious to see how they handle the Captain Marvel character in the final Avengers movie. The way she’s depicted here, she’s practically indestructible and there are a bunch of scenes showcasing her immense superpower. The more power she exerts, the less interested I was in her character (and the movie). The action scenes are largely unmemorable, and it’s also lacking a single sequence that truly stand out (i.e. the Fury car chase in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, No Man’s Land battle scene in Wonder Woman). Given Disney’s mega budget, I expect the special effects to be top notch and they are, but by the third act I find them to be a bit too long and too bombastic for my liking.
In the end, how I feel for Captain Marvel is a testament to the fact that MCU has been consistently churning out good movies. Of course some are better than others but the recent ones, especially those helmed by the Russos, have set the bar high. It’s quite telling that I was more giddy watching the first post-credit scene than I was in the entire movie. Let’s just say I’m now even more excited for Avengers: Endgame than ever before! So while this movie has its moments, it just wasn’t the trailblazing movie I expected to introduce such a powerful super-heroine.
Have you seen CAPTAIN MARVEL yet? Well, what did YOU think?