Part 2: Time waits for no man. What about for film?

The name’s Bond, James Bond

007 is extremely versatile, and I don’t just mean because he can drive any vehicle and is handy with a range of weaponry.

The hero of the series and the series itself have managed to move with the changing decades quite seamlessly. The longevity and popularity of the series is a remarkable achievement, considering there have been new films released in every decade since the 1960s.

The Bond we have seen in recent years is a far cry from Sean Connery’s Bond in 1962, ranging from the villains he faces to the clothes he wears. One thing has remained constant, though: his resolute and charismatic persona. While Daniel Craig’s 007 may not have Roger Moore’s smoothness or George Lazenby’s perma-grin, he does have the same allure.

You can read my hopes for Spectre here but one thing is certain about the super spy series: it has an appeal that has captured the imagination and attention of its audience for years and will undoubtedly do so for many more.

Changing the scenarios to fit with contemporary themes but keeping its leading man at around 35-years-old is a winning formula. If that decision hadn’t been made, Bond would be around 88-years-old now, if S.P.E.C.T.R.E. hasn’t finished him off…

Verdict: Bond is an ageless chameleon, changing with each film to suit that year’s audience. Is this the key to the series’ success? Undoubtedly.

 

In a galaxy far, far away…

Releasing three films and then releasing three prequels is an interesting idea, and one that George Lucas pulled off with varying degrees of success with Star Wars.

10 years after releasing Revenge of the Sith, Lucas returns to a galaxy far, far away with The Force Awakens, which is set 30 years after what is now referred to as Episode VI, Return of the Jedi, released in 1983.

Confused? You might well be, but spare a thought to those experiencing the space opera for the first time this year. Do they watch The Force Awakens first or wait until they’ve seen the previous six? If it’s the latter, do they watch Episodes 1-3 first or Episodes 4-6? The answer depends on who you ask.

In terms of how the passing of time will be portrayed, while you’re able to make reasonable guesses for Jurassic World and Spectre, it’s very difficult with The Force Awakens, which in some ways is exactly how you want it to be.

From the trailer you’re aware that Han Solo and Chewbacca will make at least a cameo appearance while there have been strong rumours that Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO are also returning.

How they will fit in with this new, post-Galactic Empire world is unknown. Also unknown are the backgrounds of the new lead characters: Finn, Rey and Poe Dameron. Could they be relations of Han and Leia? Did Luke find someone? The answers might be revealed but I’m thinking that they’ll be staggered, in true Star Wars fashion.

Verdict: A sci-fi legend, this universe isn’t comparable with anything else. As long as there are nods to characters and places featured previously, audiences will be kept happy.

Part 1: Time waits for no man. What about for film?

Time is a fickle beast in Hollywood.

clock_PNG6590A marriage between two actors that lasts longer than two years can be deemed as unusual, and if an actor is passed a certain age, they might feel that they’ve been put on the proverbial scrap heap.

What about the universe that a film is set in? Is it subject to the same aging process that its stars and audience experiences? Should it adapt to become contemporary?

This year, there are three films I’m eagerly awaiting that are all part of larger series: Jurassic World, Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With Jurassic World, this is the first time we’ll have seen the primeval beasts for 14 years.

Welcome to Jurassic World

Jurassic Park is one of my favourite films and from the trailers, interviews and marketing material, it sounds like Jurassic World is staying faithful to its first predecessor, keeping to the original theme of meddling with prehistoric DNA with disastrous effects.

Providing that Jurassic World is set in the present day, 22 years have passed since the fateful preview of Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar, 18 years since Sarah Harding and Ian Malcolm’s research trip to Site B (Isla Sorna) and 14 years since Dr Alan Grant was deceived into going to the island to help find a missing child.

It’s pure speculation at this point, but from the trailers it looks like director Colin Trevorrow and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have made a deliberate effort to create a close relationship between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World.

This is namely by taking the action back to Isla Nublar and bringing back Dr Henry Wu. Placing a statue of founder John Hammond within the park entrance is another thoughtful touch that will no doubt give myself and other Jurassic Park enthusiasts goose-bumps.

To dissect the trailer and excellent partner website a bit further, Jurassic World appears to be an adventure park on steroids that is at the forefront of technology. Its visitors appear to be equally adept, all armed with smartphones and tablets.

The gyrospheres used to travel around parts of the safari look like an innovative way to explore; an updated version of the electric-powered Jeep-like vehicles that the original cast experienced but undoubtedly just as breakable.

While its residents belong in a different time, the park itself has been brought spectacularly up-to-date and into the 21st century, and I for one can’t wait to have a proper look.

Verdict: Adapting to suit contemporary audiences and technologies with potentially excellent results.

“You’re a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond”

In October 2012, cinemas across the world were packed out, as people rushed to see Eon Productions’ latest offering. The film, which was part of a series, was expected to do well after its predecessor, released four years earlier, arguably lost its way.

Three years later and Eon Productions is predicted to once again put bums on seats by releasing the next instalment in the series, Bond 24, better known as Spectre.

Spectre trails just slightly behind Jurassic World as my must-watch of 2015, as I will explain.

Undertaking the Bondathon
James Bond
In preparation for Skyfall, I watched all of the previous 22 Bond films after receiving the complete boxset as a Christmas present. I’d always enjoyed the Bond films that I’d seen, and the 007 story is one of the British film industry’s most loved exports; the name ‘James Bond’ and codename ‘007’ are known the world over.

With over 2,624 minutes (43.7 hours) of film to watch, it was a large undertaking. At times I resented it; I knew I had made this pledge to myself but sometimes the thought of another Roger Moore film when he was clearly too old to play the role was too much to bear…

With literally days to spare, I made it. I watched Casino Royale on November 6th, Quantum of Solace on November 7th and Skyfall on November 8th. I kept a track of my thoughts and published the following posts: Bondathon.

As you can see, my favourite Bond is Sean Connery, with Daniel Craig as runner-up, and my favourite film is Goldfinger.

Looking forward to Spectre
With six months to go until its 6th November release date, we know quite a lot about Spectre. Casting-wise, Daniel Craig is back as 007 (his fourth outing), Ralph Fiennes is M and Christoph Waltz is Franz Oberhauser, potentially Bond’s antagonist, though that is yet to be discovered.

Sam Mendes is at the helm again following his superb direction of Skyfall and Monica Bellucci has claimed the crown of oldest ‘Bond girl’ at the age of 50. If only the women had been that age when Moore was trying to chase them in his later films…

With regards to the plot some details have been shared, though in true 007 style a lot is still under wraps. A first teaser trailer has been released and IMDb has the following summary: “While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”

007-bond-movie-announcement-new-title-spectre

For those new to the series, Bond has crossed paths with SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) before, tackling the global criminal syndicate and terrorist organisation in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Diamonds Are Forever.

Bond wouldn’t be Bond without his gadgets, and 007 will be travelling in style in the new Aston Martin DB10, created specifically for the film. The DB10 will be a limited run of 10 vehicles, and will be built in-house by AML’s design and engineering teams. This carries on a very successful partnership, as Bond has been seen on screen behind the wheel of an Aston Martin for 50 years now, starting with the iconic DB5.

Ben Whishaw is back as Q, potentially equipping 007 with more exciting gizmos after giving him just two in Skyfall: a Walther PPK/S 9mm short with embedded finger-print scanner and an elementary radio tracker. However, an old friend also made an appearance, armed with its own gadgets: 007’s DB5 that featured in Goldfinger.

Will Spectre deliver?
In a nutshell, I’m hoping that Bond 24 will be every bit as good as Skyfall and Casino Royale, which I scored 4.5 and 5 stars to respectively. Casino Royale was a strong start for the rebooted franchise, and Craig proved his critics wrong who believed he didn’t ‘fit’ the legendary role.

In my opinion, Quantum of Solace was disappointing and nowhere near as impressive as Casino Royale, with an over-the-top plot and a mismatched script that was in no doubt caused, in part, by the Writers’ Strike.

Skyfall was a return to form; sleek, intense and riveting from start to finish. New actors were introduced, with Whishaw taking on the role of Q and Naomie Harris taking over the reins as Moneypenny; both characters had been absent since Die Another Day.

Judi Dench’s final appearance as M, after seven films in the role, was stoic yet emotional. With Spectre, we’ll see the first in Fiennes’ tenure, as his Gareth Mallory became the new M at the end of Skyfall. Dench certainly brought a different aspect to Bond’s boss, and it’ll be very interesting to see in which direction Fiennes goes and what his relationship with 007 will be like.

The curious case of Salman Khan

SK1Since arriving in India for a business trip on Wednesday morning, there was been one story that has been dominating newspapers and TV channels: the trial of Bollywood actor Salman Khan.

In September 2002, Khan’s car mounted a pavement late one night in Mumbai and ran over five people. One person, Noor Ullah Khan, died. In the years that followed, no one was convicted for this hit-and-run, and Khan has always denied that he was drunk and that he was driving the car.

This story has also made international news publications. The BBC News has regularly been posting updates since Khan was found guilty of culpable homicide on Wednesday and the Times of India, Pune edition, noted that the story has even made it to the Chinese media, as the story was featured in a news bulletin by the state broadcaster, the China Central Television.

Today, Friday 8th May, Khan found out that his sentence was suspended following appeal, after he was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday but granted 48 hours bail.

India holds its breath

For multiple reasons, this story, which is set to continue for many more months, as it has been on-and-off for years, is big news.

Firstly, Khan is a Bollywood superstar, whose fans have been rallying to support him on social media. Secondly, opinion across the country has been fiercely divided, with a percentage praising the judge’s sentence while others have called for leniency. Finally, the fact that this incident happened nearly 13 years ago and justice has yet to be served.

From a Westerner and a film fan’s point of view, it’s been difficult to ignore this story.

As you may have already read, Farah Khan Ali, a jewellery designer who has more than 650,000 Twitter followers, commented: “No one should be sleeping on the road or footpath. It is dangerous to do that just like it is dangerous to cross tracks.”

Unsurprisingly, this outrageous, in my opinion, comment was quickly defended, with Ali posting: “I never said that Salman was faultless. I said five years is very harsh punishment… Salman is genuinely a very good human being and he made a mistake.”

Khan hasn’t always been seen as ‘a very good human being’, though. The phrase ‘Bollywood’s bad boy’ has often been used to describe him, particularly with reference to his romantic life. It refers to a criminal past too, as he had an earlier brush with the law due to the illegal hunting of a deer in 1998. He spent less than a week in prison when he was convicted in 2007.

I asked my driver today what he thought of Khan. He firstly said that he believed Khan was driving and that he was drunk. He then followed it up by saying that Khan does a lot of charity work.

SK2

Big wheels keep on turning

Bollywood is arguably India’s most famous export.

Data compiled by Statista and shared by Forbes in 2014 revealed the following:

  • 1,602: films produced in India in 2012. The USA did 476
  • 2.7 billion: the number of cinema admissions in India in 2013
  • $600m: Bollywood’s Shah Rukh Kahn’s estimated wealth in 2014, the 2nd wealthiest actor in the world behind Americans Jerry Seinfeld ($820m) and Tom Cruise ($480m)

Whether today’s ruling from the Bombay High Court will have an impact on Khan’s career and on the sales of his two forthcoming films is unknown, but my gut feeling is that no, it won’t.

Rightly or wrongly, Khan has a dedicated following, with a multitude of Bollywood stars and other celebrities being spotted visiting his home in Mumbai’s Galaxy Apartments. They’re showing solidarity with him, and I don’t think that this will change anytime soon.

The wheels of Bollywood will keep turning, and its films will feature old favourites plus the next generation. Tickets will continue be sold and Khan’s upcoming films may even sell better than expected due to their star’s recent publicity.

Bollywood, like Hollywood, is a powerful and economic juggernaut, and Khan’s latest news story is just a minor blip on the landscape.

[Movies of the Month] April

April

1ST TIMERS
The English Teacher – A disappointing film considering its leads. Far too many clichés as well. ★★½
Silverado – An enjoyable Western but one that does become quite convoluted, with multiple leads and multiple plot lines. ★★★
Chef – Hugely likeable film; expert acting, direction and writing by Favreau. ★★★★½
Captain America – The Winter Soldier – Action-packed and exciting once the plot is (finally) revealed. ★★★★
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet – A beautifully shot and well acted film, but it’s let down by two plot lines rather than a central one. ★★★½
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – An enjoyable watch with cameos aplenty. Not one I’ll revisit for some time, though. ★★★½

REWATCHES
Gattaca – An interesting premise executed well. This is one film I’d like to see remade using today’s technology. ★★★½
The Hangover – Laughs aplenty, as usual. It still isn’t failing to please as a rewatch. ★★★★
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey – A sweet story with extra resonance now I have my own four-legged friend. ★★★★
300 – As always, this rating is for the way this film was shot and executed; when a film looks this good you can mostly forgive the dodgy accents. ★★★★
Kingdom of Heaven – Beautiful scenery and an epic story, but it begins to drag quickly. ★★½

Total: 11

Since 1/1/15 
Cinema visits: 1
1st timers: 25
Rewatches: 21
Documentaries: 1

Total: 48

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers