Non-spoiler NTTD review

No Time to Die logo

This is intended as a very quick review of No Time to Die. No spoilers here but I’m preparing a post that deals with the No. 1 spoiler.

After all this time, was it worth it? Yes, very much so. I am going back and forth whether it’s a B-Plus or A-Minus.

If you’re a fan of Daniel Craig/Bond, you’ll love it. If you don’t care for Craig/Bond, it won’t change your mind.

No Time to Die was in a position to take liberties knowing it would be the last movie featuring Craig, who is adored by Eon boss Barbara Broccoli. Knowing that, you can take more chances. That’s all I will say until later.

The movie is mostly executed extremely well. The score by Hans Zimmer (and Steve Mazzaro) is better than I thought it would be. They even found a way to get Mazzaro into the main titles.

It weaves bits from the title song by Billie Eilish and Finneas throughout. We haven’t experienced that so much since 2006’s Casino Royale, where David Arnold did the score and co-wrote the title song.

As I get older, I tend to appreciate the more talkative scenes more. One of my favorite scenes is when Bond, gone from MI6 for years, goes to M’s office. It’s quite good, with both sides of the conversation getting in their points.

And, for those who were concerned Bond was emasculated in this movie? Well, it didn’t happen. The trailers didn’t give away everything.

The movie mostly moved faster than a film running 163 minutes. It could have tightened some action scenes. But, these days, you can say that about most movies.

Hours after I saw the movie, I began to think about plot holes, questions, etc. But it’s a success when you don’t ponder that during the movie.

My main concern, if you want to call it that, is the movie is too self-referential. To examine that in more detail requires spoilers.

The blog will get to a more spoiler post soon.

Some Bond 25 notes about the official podcast

No Time to Die poster

We’re now two-thirds of the way through the episodes of the official No Time to Die podcast. What follows are some observations.

Steve Mazzaro gets a shoutout: Hans Zimmer has made it known that his work on No Time to Die was in collaboration with Steve Mazzaro.

The Eon Productions publicity campaign has not referenced either Dan Romer (the composer originally chosen by Cary Fukunaga) nor Mazzaro (who Hans Zimmer has described as a collaborator).

But in episode 4, “The Music of Bond,” Zimmer again says he worked *with Mazzaro on the score.

Zimmer said long ago it was a joint arrangement. Meanwhile, I’m puzzled why once Romer was sent away why Eon didn’t get five-time Bond composer David Arnold to fill in.

I suspect it’s because Zimmer is more of a brand name than an actual film composer these days. But, who knows?

Fukunaga says he thought about the score “early on:” This comes up in episode 4. It’s probably true but likely reflects why Dan Romer was (initially) called in.

The similarities between Never Say Never Again and No Time to Die keep multiplying: Haphazard Stuff put together an amusing video about 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Both movies feature an aging James Bond. In Sean Connery’s case, it was a last chance to stick it to Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli:

Bond 25 questions: The unanswered questions edition

Scott Z. Burns

With the debut of the final U.S. and international trailers for No Time to Die, a majority of James Bond fans are jacked up. It’s less than a month before the world premiere.

Admittedly, the blog’s attention is wondering to unanswered questions — which may never be answered. So here goes.

What did Scott Z. Burns contribute to the script? Burns is a high-priced “script doctor” who brought in to work on the script a few months before filming began.

Eon Productions briefly referenced Burns’ participation. Here was a tweet from Eon’s official James Bond feed on Twitter on April 25, 2019.

However, after the Writer’s Guild of America weighed in, Burns was out. Burns is highly paid. It’s doubtful the scribe did nothing.

How much of the score *really* is by Hans Zimmer and how much is by Steve Mazzaro (and others)?

In the advertising materials, we’re told, “Music by Hans Zimmer.” But Zimmer is on record that his colleague Steve Mazzaro did a lot of the work and should get top billing on the music credit. Of course, Zimmer is more of a brand than a composer. Most fans will ignore this, but the blog remains interested.

Why was Dan Romer, the original No Time to Die composer, sent packing?

Romer had worked with director Cary Fukunaga on other projects. Romer was listed as No Time to Die’s composer for a time. Then, all of a sudden, his name was gone. Zimmer’s name was his place.

The conventional wisdom is that Romer’s work was too “out there.” OK, but what does that mean? For that matter, is Zimmer & Co.’s replacement score truly a “Bond” score, a la John Barry, or is it a typical Zimmer piece of work?

How much input did Eon’s Michael G. Wilson have with No Time to Die?

For the better part of a decade, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has been depicted as *the* leader of the Eon effort. Her half-brother, 18 years her senior, doesn’t get mentioned that much.

Is that true? Is he just collecting a paycheck? Is he taking it easy these days. Or did he make significant contributions to the project.

Questions, questions.

Reminder: Zimmer isn’t the only NTTD composer

Hans Zimmer

I saw some chatter on social media today expressing surprise that No Time to Die’s score is a joint effort.

So this is just a reminder that Hans Zimmer is not the sole composer on No Time to Die’s score. Back in June 2020, Zimmer himself told Variety it would not be. Her is Zimmer in his own words in the Variety interview.

Well, it was surprising, and let me explain why. I’ve known [producer] Barbara Broccoli for a long time, and we’re friends. I never thought we would work together on something like that, so it was surprising just to get the call. And I asked her if it was okay that Steve Mazzaro, who is one of the most fabulous composers I know, could do it with me, because there was very little time. And of course she said yes. Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film. I hope we’ve done it justice. (emphasis added)

Since then, all of the promotional material for the movie only mentioned Zimmer and didn’t reference Mazzaro.

As noted before, Mazzaro did the score for Eon Productions’ The Rhythm Section, with Zimmer producing the score.

Zimmer, of course, is a big name in movie music. Mazzaro? Not so much.

UPDATE: The No Time to Die soundtrack list is released. The MI6 James Bond website has a copy. The 71-minute soundtrack has 21 selections: 1) Gun Barrel 2) Matera 3) A Message From an Old Friend 4) Square Escape 5) Someone Was Here 6) Not What I Expected 7) What Have You Done? 8) Shouldn’t We Get to Know Each Other First 9) Cuba Chase 10) Back to MI6 11) Good to Have You Back 12) Lovely to See You Again 13) Home 14) Norway Chase 15) Gearing Up 16) Poison Garden 17) The Factory 18) I’ll Be Right Back 19) Opening the Doors 20) Final Ascent 21) No Time to Die.

From 2020: A peek at NTTD’s scoring sessions

One of several images Steve Mazzaro uploaded to Instagram in March 2020.

Back in March 2020, Steve Mazzaro, a composer who assisted Hans Zimmer in doing No Time to Die’s score, posted several behind the scenes images on Instagram.

The photos were originally posted on March 4, 2020, after the movie had the first of three COVID-19 delays in its release date.

Zimmer is the only composer listed on movie posters and soundtrack covers that have been released to date. But Mazzaro is one of the many composers who work for Zimmer. Mazzaro also composed the score for The Rhythm Section, a non-Bond spy film made by Eon Productions.

In a June 2020 interview with Variety, Zimmer said Mazzaro’s contributions to No Time to Die were significant.

“Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film,” Zimmer told Variety. Obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way.

Besides the image above, Mazzaro posted images of himself working with Zimmer at a control board as well as musicians recording the No Time to Die score.

As with anything else concerning No Time to Die, fans will have to wait to see how the movie’s score worked out.

No Time to Die featured on Tonight Show

The spoiler adverse should simply move on.

No Time to Die was featured on the Oct. 5 installment of The Tonight Show before being put back on the shelf until its new April 2021 release date.

The main new aspect was a brief clip. It’s from the Matera sequence and a bit more could be viewed of the scene where where Daniel Craig’s Bond jumps off a bridge. There was a brief chance to sample the Steve Mazzaro-Hans Zimmer score. (Remember, Zimmer told Variety that Mazzaro should get top billing. I am merely following his wishes.)

Phil Nobile Jr., editor of Fangoria magazine, posted the clip on Twitter. I am not embedding it, particularly if it gets yanked.

(UPDATE: Well, The Tonight Show posted it on YouTube. So no reason to be coy.)

In an interview with host Jimmy Fallon, Craig said the delay was so the 25th James Bond film could be shown worldwide. Now, Craig said, was not the time. The comment was a variation on the Oct. 2 announcement that the movie was being pushed back.

Craig also said he returned for a fifth outing as Bond because there was a story left to tell. This was similar to previous interviews.

The Tonight Show interview also had a 15-year-old anecdote about how Craig had never had a martini until just before the announcement he was taking over the Bond role.

Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas conducted what Fallon hyped as “the first U.S. performance” of the movie’s title song. It sounded pretty similar to all those other performances from months ago when the song first debuted. But the camera work was more interesting than the music video that came out last week.

Tonight also carried a new No Time to Die spot (now saying “in theaters 2021”) as well as Bond-themed Omega and Heineken commercials.

Zimmer’s site lists track titles for NTTD soundtrack

Hans Zimmer

Post concerns a possible spoiler, but it’s not spelled out in the post itself. But if you’re queasy about spoilers at all, leave now.

The Hans Zimmer website  has a listing of the track titles for No Time Time to Die’s soundtrack.

One page on the site lists 21 track titles for the soundtrack. The title for track No. 16 may indirectly refer to something from an Ian Fleming novel. In case this is up by mistake and gets yanked you can view (if you are so inclined) a screengrab of part of the page.

The soundtrack is now available for pre-ordering, Decca Records said today on Twitter.

Zimmer replaced Dan Romer as No Time to Die’s composer. Steve Mazzaro, who scored The Rhythm Section for Eon Productions, provides additional music for the 25th James Bond film.

UPDATE: The soundtrack list is now out from various sources, including the Film Score Reporter site. Continue reading

Bond 25 questions: The trailer, soundtrack edition

No Time to Die poster released Sept. 1.

The No Time to Die publicity machine got reactivated this week, including a new trailer and details about the soundtrack being released.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What’s the big takeaway?

It’s very clear that No Time to Die is back to “saving the world” territory.

The new trailer shows agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch) saying villain Safin “will kill millions.” Bond (Daniel Craig) says if his team is unsuccessful there won’t be anything left to save.

Eon Productions has shied away from such sweeping, big stakes since Craig took over as Bond. Quantum of Solace, for example, dealt with water rights.

I’m not exactly sure about the stakes of SPECTRE. Bond and his allies sought to prevent something from being deployed related to observing people. But SPECTRE already seemingly had the ability to record every single phone conversation on the planet. It wasn’t very clear how things would be any worse if SPECTRE succeeded.

Anything new catch your eye?

The No Time to Die ad that debuted during the Super Bowl showed Bond and Nomi is a plane or glider. In the new trailer, we see it can become a submarine.

That idea isn’t new. One of the earliest Gerry Anderson shows was Supercar, a craft that could fly and be a submarine. (I actually had a Supercar toy as a kid.) The 1964-68 series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea featured the Flying Sub, which flew and could travel undersea.

Still, it’s an element of fantasy that hasn’t been part of the Daniel Craig era of James Bond films.

Hey, what happened to Steve Mazzaro?

For the uninitiated, No Time to Die composer Hans Zimmer told Variety in June that he needed Steve Mazzaro’s help to do the movie’s score because of a tight deadline.

As part of that interview, Zimmer said: “Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film.”

Naturally, there was no mention of Mazzaro in the press release Eon Productions put out with the soundtrack cover.

There were quotes from the likes of Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson and director Cary Fukunaga about the genius of Hans Zimmer. Of course, Fukunaga doesn’t mention how his composer choice, Dan Romer, got fired from the project.

Does that surprise you?

No. When I read the Zimmer interview in Variety, I took his remark about how Mazzaro should get top billing as an empty compliment, not something he meant seriously.

Still, it’s another example of how studios and “artistes” count on people not remembering what has been said previously. So it goes.

Cover for NTTD soundtrack unveiled

No Time to Die soundtrack cover

The cover for the No Time to Die soundtrack was unveiled today as pre-orders were again being accepted.

The cover art is a variation of the poster that debuted on Sept. 1.

The soundtrack is being billed as “music by Hans Zimmer.” Evidently, the advice that Zimmer offered in a June interview with Variety isn’t being heeded.

At that time, Zimmer said he asked producer Barbara Broccoli “if it was okay that Steve Mazzaro, who is one of the most fabulous composers I know, could do it with me, because there was very little time. And of course she said yes. Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film.” (emphasis added)

Mazzaro, as things stand now, may be a bit of a forgotten man.

In an Eon Productions statement, a quote attributed to Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson says: “Hans and his team have delivered an exceptional and emotional score for No Time To Die. It has been a privilege to work with this legendary composer on one of the best Bond soundtracks ever.” (emphasis added)

Mazzaro also scored The Rhythm Section, Eon’s non-Bond spy film released early this year. Personal guess: He may get an “additional music” credit in the end titles.

The No Time to Die soundtrack is to be released in November.

Bond 25 questions: The score edition

New No Time to Die poster

It’s still a long way off before people can see No Time to Die. But thanks to an interview with Variety, composer Hans Zimmer has provided the blog with some questions to ask about the movie’s score.

Should the title card read, “Music by Steve Mazzaro and Hans Zimmer”?

Well if you take Zimmer at his word, maybe yes.

Steve should really be the top name on the Bond film,” Zimmer told Variety.

Mazzaro is one of the composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions company. In the interview, Zimmer said he asked No Time to Die producer Barbara Broccoli “if it was okay that Steve Mazzaro, who is one of the most fabulous composers I know, could do it with me, because there was very little time.”

Was Zimmer perhaps just being polite?

Maybe yes, maybe no. One way Zimmer manages to do so many film scores is by enlisting the help of other composers.

On some films, Zimmer gets the primary “music by” credit while other Remote Control composers get secondary “additional music by” credits. Examples: Man of Steel, Dunkirk, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.

On still other films, such as Batman v Superman and Blade Runner 2049, Zimmer actually shares the “music by” credit.

Regardless, in addition to Mazzaro, other Remote Control composers who’ve helped out Zimmer include Junkie XL and Lorne Balfe. The latter got the gig to score Mission: Impossible-Fallout and is slated to score the next two M:I movies.

Anything else in that interview catch your eye?

Zimmer’s quote about how “there was very little time” is worth noting. Eon was trying to meet an April release date before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down movie theaters.

Zimmer (and Mazzaro) replaced Dan Romer, who had worked with director Cary Fukunaga on other projects. Since Skyfall, Eon Productions has generally deferred the choice of composer to the directors of Bond films. No Time to Die initially seemed to continue that pattern until Romer’s departure.

A common fan theory is that Romer produced a score deemed too extreme. Meanwhile, Eon had worked with Zimmer and Mazzaro on The Rhythm Section (Mazzaro as composer, Zimmer as music producer, with the latter getting top billing on the music title card).