Recap of ironic SPECTRE statements

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As SPECTRE is ready to wrap up principal photography, here’s a look back at some statements laden with irony and hidden meaning that weren’t evident at the time.

“John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with an extraordinary follow up to SKYFALL and we, along with our partners at MGM, can’t wait to share this new chapter with audiences all over the world.” Sony executives Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal in a JULY 2013 PRESS RELEASE.

At the time, there was no script. A treatment arrived in the fall of 2013. Logan didn’t deliver a first draft until March 2014. Because of the hacking of Sony Pictures, it’s now known that studio executives were less than thrilled with what Logan (who always said he was working closely with Mendes) delivered. Logan would later be replaced by veteran 007 scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

A side note: bad publicity from the hacks caused Sony to fire Pascal (something she has publicly acknowledged).

“At the end of the day, it came down to the story…It was a story I wanted to tell.” This was Sam Mendes speaking on Dec. 4, 2014 to ENTERTAINMENT NOW.

At the time Mendes said that, rewrites to fix the last third of the story were being done right up to the Dec. 4 media event that the director hosted. Again, that’s only known because of the hacking at Sony Pictures.

“More pressure.” Mendes again on Dec. 4, on how SPECTRE would have a bigger budget than Skyfall and how it would affect him. With the Sony hacks, it’s known the budget had gone past $300 million, making the 24th James Bond film one of the most expensive of all time.

Lea Seydoux says SPECTRE’s theme is ‘family’

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Lea Seydoux, who plays Madeleine Swann in SPECTRE, says the theme of the 24th James Bond film is “family.”

Seydoux, who turns 30 on July 1, gave an interview to L’EXPRESS. It was published in French. She made this comment: “The theme of the family is central” in SPECTRE “and everyone will have to live” with the past. (Google Translate, for what it’s worth, changes “Spectre” to “Spectrum.”)

Seydoux’s remark is consistent with SPECTRE’s teaser trailer. Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny says to Daniel Craig’s James Bond that he’s hiding some kind of secret after a photo taken during Bond’s childhood was found in the ruins of Skyfall.

Assorted other comments by Seydoux:

–“I said yes to (SPECTRE director) Sam Mendes without even reading the script. I think all roles, whatever they are, are good to take. I never rewrite anything for me. In Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen, I had a small role and it amused me to do something.”

–“I have no career plan, that’s why I do not like to talk about my work. To talk too much, you lose the magic.”

To view the entire interview, CLICK HERE.

SPECTRE video blog features Mexico City filming

The official James Bond site released another video blog today, this one focusing on the 24th James Bond movie’s Mexico City sequence.

The video, not quite two minutes long, has a brief comment from director Sam Mendes and a look at preparing costumes for extras. SPECTRE opens during the Day of the Dead celebration (something the filmmakers disclosed during the Mexico shoot in March, including a clapperboard photo on Twitter).

SPECTRE is expected to complete filming this month and is scheduled to open on Nov. 6. Today’s video blog is below:

Still more SPECTRE filming photos emerge

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With another weekend of filming London exteriors, still more SPECTRE filming photos are making the rounds on social media.

After almost six months of filming, there’s really not a whole lot left to say, so let’s go straight to a sampling.

The official James Bond Twitter feed got into the act, but its photo doesn’t give anything away.

Another tweet included two photos of star Daniel Craig.

And some more:

Still more, including some shots of director Sam Mendes, can be seen on THIS PAGE of the message board of the MI6 James Bond website. A whole gallery of photos was uploaded to THIS PAGE on the Imgur website. They include some shots of actress Naomie Harris.

Whiplash: The Telegraph on Skyfall

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

On May 8, The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. had a story about THE TOP 10 MOST OVERRATED MOVIES OF ALL TIME.

The No. 1 entry? Skyfall, the most recent James Bond film, which was released in 2012.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the story by Tim Robey.

Awkward in shape and thrilling only periodically, the film’s a fraught salvage job for which (director) Sam Mendes got far too much of the credit.

Look closer and the scars of indecision are painfully obvious, especially in that third act. Ben Whishaw’s Q allows the MI6 server to be hacked by… plugging a pair of ethernet cables into Silva’s laptop? The tube crash is a shambles. The disposal of Severine, after Bond has had his wicked way with this maltreated sex slave, is brutally callous. Daniel Craig seems hardened, waxy, and humourless, with no gift for floating a weak punchline, and the uninspired script (“Got into some deep water”, anyone?) gives him a morass of them.

Interesting critique. Meanwhile, the folks at the MI6 James Bond website sent us a link to The Telegraph’s review of Skyfall, written by Robbie Collin.

The link on The Telegraph’s website gives a Dec. 24, 2014 date, or less than a year ago; comments for the review are dated “three years ago,” suggesting the review was originally published in 2012, when the movie came out. Wikipedia, citing the Collin review, says it was published Oct. 26, 2012.

Regardless, it’s an interesting comparison to the more recent story.

Daniel Craig remains Bond incarnate, although six years on from Casino Royale he has become something more than a brawny cipher. There’s a warmth to his banter with pretty field agent Eve (Naomie Harris), the one-liners make a tentative return, and we even learn about the loss of Bond’s parents: the must-have back story for this season’s conflicted superhero.

Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan’s script constantly reminds us Bond’s physical prowess is on the wane, but his verbal sparring, both with M and new foe Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former agent turned vengeful computer hacker, is nimbler than ever.

(snip)

“We don’t go in for exploding pens any more,” quips a fashionably tousled Q (Ben Whishaw). Nor do audiences, and it’s no wonder Skyfall was a stratospheric hit.

That sounds like a rave review and it gets four out of five stars. If Skyfall is overrated, it would seem The Telegraph did its fair share of making it so.

To be fair, the two pieces were written by two writers with two different viewpoints. Still, one would think an editor at The Telegraph would at least want to reference the paper’s own review.

Without that acknowledgment, a reader gets a bit of whiplash.

REVIEW: The sequel that doesn’t seem like a sequel

Iron Man's Hulkbuster armor vs. the Hulk, a highlight of Avengers: Age of Ultron

Concept art of Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor vs. the Hulk, a highlight of Avengers: Age of Ultron

Director Joss Whedon, in his farewell to Marvel movies, has come up with a rarity: a sequel that doesn’t seem like a sequel.

Avengers: Age of Ultron, while not a perfect film, achieves something unusual. It’s a sequel that’s more introspective (at least for a time) than the 2012 original Marvel’s The Avengers, that Whedon directed and co-wrote. There’s a substantial attempt at demonstrating what makes its main characters tick that’s deeper than what came before.

It’s rare these days where there’s a “written and directed by” credit, but that’s what Whedon has here. It’s even more rare in genre movies not to mention a studio (Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel) that isn’t known as a haven for “auteur” filmmakers.

Still, the movie is all that and more. Whedon successfully walks a tightrope. He successfully balances commercial concerns (the 2012 movie had worldwide ticket sales of $1.5 billion), throws more than a few bones to the hard-core Marvel Comics fan base (including Tony Stark’s “Hulkbuster” armor, a popular bit from late 1970s comic books) to giving his main actors plenty of material to work with.

Concerning the latter point, the introspection occurs relatively early in the movie, something even more surprising. The super hero group encounters a set of brother-sister twins, who’ve been experimented upon by the evil organization Hydra. Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) can mess with the minds of people.

Whedon uses that as a device to explore the personalities of his main cast (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner).

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (Downey Jr. and Ruffalo) have been working on something they believe can result in good. As it turns out, they’ve crossed into Dr. Frankenstein territory (and Whedon provides a couple of references for those not familiar with that story). As a result, Ultron (James Spader) is born, a robot with artificial intelligence who decides humans should be exterminated.

Since 2008, Marvel Studios has been on an amazing run of movies that have been highly successful (and then some) at the box office. At the same time, those movies haven’t been paint-by-the-numbers. That’s especially true with Whedon’s second Avengers movie. He shakes things up (though not too much).

Whedon has indicated that after five-plus years of living with the Avengers he wants to movie on to developing projects featuring his own characters. That’s very understandable. Nevertheless, he has set a high bar for his successors.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo will helm a two-part Avengers movie due for release in 2018 and 2019. They’ve already directed one Captain America movie and are about to begin filming another featuring a Cap/Iron Man clash.

Yet, Whedon has demonstrated what can be accomplished in a genre film. Sam Mendes, director of the 007 film Skyfall and the currently filming SPECTRE, has been using Christopher Nolan’s Batman films as a guide to making James Bond movies. It’s too bad he didn’t get a chance check out Whedon’s work on the two Avengers movies as well.

Avengers: Age of Ultron has flaws. It’s a bit long and gets exhausting at times. For all that, it’s worth a look. GRADE: A-Minus.

007.com posts video blog about SPECTRE car chase

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

People who don’t want to know anything about the movie should stop reading now.

The official James Bond website, 007.com, posted a new video blog today which looks at a car chase scene in SPECTRE.

In the film, Daniel Craig’s James Bond is driving an Aston Martin DB10 and is being chased by a Jaguar driven by henchman Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista).

The video includes comments from special effects man Chris Corbould and director Sam Mendes. The latter calls the sequence “a cat and mouse game through the night time streets of Rome.”

Here’s the video, it runs about 100 seconds. No real story spoilers, but, as stated above, the super-spoiler averse should not view.

UPDATE: To view a related tweet from the official 007 Twitter account, CLICK HERE.

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