Friday, November 30, 2012

ARROW Casts Deathstroke Without the Mask

Deathstroke fans, you're finally going to be able to see and hear Slade Wilson without his mask on the CW series Arrow.

Entertainment Weekly announced that the role of Deathstroke has been recast with Spartacus star Manu Bennett, who plays Crixus on the Starz action series that ends in 2013. 

The DC Comics supervillain appeared previously in the November 7th episode "Damaged" and was played by stuntman Jeffrey C. Robinson.  During a flashback sequence of Oliver Queen's early days being marooned on the island of Lian Yu, Deathstroke is introduced as part of a mercenary group led by Eddie Fyers to locate the hooded archer Yao Fei, and tortures Oliver without actually saying anything.

It's not known when Bennett will appear as Slade Wilson's alias Deathstroke, so it may be a little while before Oliver connects Wilson to the island mercenary who tortured him.  Another mystery is whether Bennett will be sporting Wilson's traditional eyepatch in present day scenes after it was hinted in the pilot that Oliver may have taken Deathstoke's right eye before leaving Lian Yu. 

EW claims that Wilson and Oliver will form "an uneasy alliance" during additional Lian Yu flashbacks, while their insider simply commented, "You’ll just have to keep watching Arrow."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Karen Gillan Shares Life Post-DOCTOR WHO with Craig Ferguson

Karen Gillan may be gone from Doctor Who, but it looks like she'll always have a place on CBS' The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

On her twenty-fifth birthday, the actress returned for third appearance on the late-night talk show to promote the Doctor Who Series Seven, Part One DVD set that was recently released.  A clip of her final on-screen appearance in the episode "The Angels Take Manhattan" was shown, which featured the sad graveyard scene where Gillan's character Amy Pond allows herself to be touched by a Weeping Angel and disappears back in time.

As Ferguson displayed the DVD set to the audience, Gillan remarked that star Matt Smith complained about her being too heavy for him for the set's cover image of the Doctor carrying an unconscious Amy Pond.  "He's a thin gentleman," quipped Ferguson with a cheeky smile.  "I mean, very attractive but he's kinda got that 1970s David Bowie thing going on."

Gillan then shared what was going on in her life since leaving Doctor Who.  After filming Oculus, a "kind of horror" movie, in Alabama, she's obtained a legal visa to remain in the States and has moved to Los Angeles.

The actress later sang a Gaelic song with Ferguson's robot sidekick Geoff Peterson and was warned by Ferguson about the Los Angeles sun affecting her pale skin.  "Yeah," replied Gillan, "I'm gonna get more freckles and then they'll join up and then I'll be completely ginger."

If you'd like to check out the full segment, you can view it below thanks to YouTube user Someoddstuff...

Monday, November 26, 2012

SHERLOCK Series 3 Delayed Until Late 2013

Well, at least Elementary is doing well on CBS...

Fans of the BBC series Sherlock are going to have to wait a bit longer for the return of the modern-day Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  Entertainment Weekly reported today that the start of production for the show's third series of three 90-minute episodes has been pushed back from January to March 2013 in order to accommodate the schedules of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

It was hoped that Sherlock Series 3 would be broadcast by the BBC during the summer, but the article claims that it won't air until late 2013, with the PBS broadcast in America possibly not airing until early 2014.  Anticipation for the third season is high, especially after the cliffhanger ending in "The Reichenbach Fall" that featured Holmes somehow faking a suicide leap off the roof of a tall building after having his public reputation destroyed by his nemesis, Jim Moriarty.  The featured Series 3 stories remain a mystery, teased back in August with just three words -- "Rat," "Wedding" and "Bow."

Demand for Cumberbatch and Freeman is just as high, however, with Cumberbatch slated to portray Julian Assange in an untitled film about Wikileaks and Freeman currently filming The World's End, a new Edgar Wright comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  Hopefully, the stars will figure out how to clear their calendars long enough to keep the return of Sherlock Holmes from being delayed once again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DOCTOR WHO: Countdown to the 50th Anniversary

One year and counting.

365 days from now, on November 23, 2013, fans of Doctor Who will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the science fiction program's debut in 1963 with episode one of "An Unearthly Child."  That's a pretty impressive achievement for a low-budget BBC series originally developed to teach children about historical events.

Eleven Doctors and umpteen companions later, Doctor Who has finally become the worldwide phenomenon it deserved to be and Whovians all over the globe are anxiously awaiting next year's special.  After all, with stories such as "The Three Doctors" and "The Five Doctors" celebrating the show's tenth and twentieth anniversaries respectively, and charity short stories like "Dimensions in Time" and "Time Crash" featuring previous Doctors, it's going to be pretty disappointing if some form of multi-Doctor story isn't the basis of the 50th anniverary.
Last year at this time, I shared my thoughts on how the 50th anniversary special could work but one year later, we're still not much closer to knowing how it's going to turn out.  We've received all sorts of mixed messages over the past twelve months, some of them probably deliberately obfuscating, and Rassilon knows that showrunner Steven Moffat isn't going to reveal anything until he wants to.  Here's a rundown of what little we do know:
Peter Davison (The Fifth Doctor) -- Interviewed by Kasterborous at the end of October, Davison was asked if he would return for the anniversary.  "Every day I check the phone to see if Steven Moffat has called me.  I don’t know what’s happening next year, I have nothing to report.  I’m sure it will be something fantastic, but I don’t know what.  I think if [the classic Doctors] aren’t invited, I’m going to make my own rival video.  I’ll do my own 50th anniversary special.  Colin Baker’s prepared to work for nothing!"
Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor) -- Spoke with Doctor Who TV two weeks ago and was asked about reprising the Sixth Doctor.  "No," he denied.  "As far as I know, neither of any of my erstwhile colleagues have been asked either."
Paul McGann (The Eighth Doctor) -- Made comments in July that were reported by Digital Spy about if he was involved in the anniversary.  "No," he responded.  "I mean, I know it's imminent but no, there's been no invites to or sounding out taking place but maybe it will happen, we don't know."  It should be noted that McGann has recently debuted an entirely new look for his Doctor sanctioned by the BBC in promotional materials for the Big Finish audio adventure "Dark Eyes."
David Tennant (The Tenth Doctor) -- Made very poor denials last week during press interviews for Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger.  Even if no one else returns for the anniversary, Tennant most likely will.
Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor) -- Interviewed by Collider at the beginning of November and asked about a special with several Doctors.  "Are they?" Smith replied.  "I don't know, you tell me."  On the related subject of Mark Gatiss' documentary on the show's genesis, Smith remarked, "Ah, the genesis of The Doctor, but that’s about William Hartnell isn’t it?  I mean, there’s that and we’ll obviously make a 50th anniversary episode special, and then they’ll be all sorts of live events I would’ve thought that surround that.  I think we’re going to make it a big year for Doctor Who on the BBC. I think that’s the plan."
In another interview with Den of Geek, Smith was asked about working with actors from the show's past.  "I think it’s a lovely idea.  Whether or not it’s something that’s in any way achievable nowadays, I just don’t know, because actors have other commitments, and they move on from the show.  But I’ve enjoyed, in the past, watching the multi-Doctor episodes.  If you’re a fan of the show, it’s just a cool thing, isn’t it?  Seeing them and going 'Aah, they’re talking to each other!  And they’re both the Doctor!'  Steven will come up with something brilliant, and of course I know what it is and I can’t say anything!  But whether or not that’s achievable, I don’t know."
William Russell (Ian Chesterton) -- In a piece last week by the Coventry Telegraph, Russell said it would be "a great idea" for his character Ian to return to the show and joked that he should send Matt Smith's Doctor back to school.
John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) -- Spoke with TV Choice at the beginning of this month and asked about returning for the anniversary. "I haven’t heard anything.  There was a rumor online that said I’m not able to do it because of my schedule.  But actually, I haven’t been asked.  So it’s nothing to do with my schedule.  And to be honest with you -- I have time.  I’ve always said, if they come to me and ask me to do Doctor Who or Torchwood ever again, I would do it at the drop of a hat."

So again, we still don't know much more than what we started with, although it seems like everyone who should be involved in the 50th anniversary special thinks it's rather a good idea.  Time will tell, though...It always does...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

David Tennant Denies Involvement (Wink, Wink) in DOCTOR WHO's 50th Anniversary

Rule One -- The Doctor lies.

If only one of the previous Doctors return for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary on November 23, 2013, you can pretty much bet David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor, will be that one.  As an admitted fan of the original series growing up, Tennant secured his status as The Ultimate Whovian with his checkmate moves of portraying the Tenth Doctor from Christmas 2005 through New Year's Day 2010 and marrying Georgia Moffett, daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison.

So while it's no big shock to hear Tennant denying his involvement in Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, at least until an official announcement is made, it's interesting that's he's doing such a poor job with his denials.  While doing publicity for Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger, Tennant was once again asked about his involvement and gave the following response to BBC Radio 1:

"I nearly said something I shouldn’t!  I don’t have an answer to this question.  I keep being asked and I wish I had an answer.  I’ve nothing to say.  I don’t know and if I did have any involvement, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it anyway, would I?  Probably not."

In another response to the question from Red Carpet News, Tennant remarked:

"I can’t imagine there even are going to be any anniversary celebrations, are there?  Look at my agent getting twitchy!"

Honestly, the guy is just one step away from resetting "Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more..." from Monty Python.

If you'd like to see the full interviews, you can view them below.  The Doctor Who discussion for BBC Radio 1 begins at around the 0:49 mark, while the Red Carpet News comments begin around the 1:25 mark.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jeremy Renner Reprises Hawkeye for SNL AVENGERS Sketch

How useful is Hawkeye when he runs out of arrows?

That was the joke premise of the somewhat disappointing Avengers movie sketch on last night's Saturday Night Live, hosted by Avengers star Jeremy Renner.  Reprising his role of the Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye for the four-minute sketch, Renner was joined by SNL regulars Bill Hader (Thor), Jason Sudeikis (Iron Man), Taran Killam (Captain America), Kate McKinnon (Black Widow), Bobby Moynihan (The Hulk), Jay Pharoah (Nick Fury) and Vanessa Bayer (Maria Hill).  (In an interesting aside, Killam is married to actress Cobie Smulders, who played Maria Hill in The Avengers.)

Opening with Maria Hill warning Nick Fury of the "Chintauri" (sic) invasion of Earth through the portal that Loki opened with the Tesseract, Nick Fury calls for the Avengers to assemble.  When Hill questions Fury using an archer, Fury replies, "Yeah, like a bow-and-arrow dude."

"Like...Super arrows?"

"Nah, normal arrows.  He's just really, really good at it."

Cutting to the Avengers in the midst of the New York City battleground, Captain America calls for Hawkeye to do his thing.  Hawkeye awkwardly pauses, explaining "I'm out of arrows."

"What?" asks Cap.

"I'm all out of arrows.  I don't have any more.  So...I guess I'm done, right?  I'll be in the car, stay safe..."

When Black Widow asks Hawkeye how many arrows he brought, he answers "All of them...Like, eleven."

Cap is naturally stunned.  "Eleven?  There are a hundred thousand aliens out there."

"And I killed eleven of them, you're welcome.  My arrow thing only holds eleven -- twelve if I really cram them in there but it's not safe.  Anyway, good luck."

The battle sort-of continues, with Iron Man returning with a plan to fend off the invasion.  "All right, here's what we do.  We can shut down the generator.  All we need is a direct hit through an arrow-sized core.  It's a little tiny hole, so take the shot, Hawkeye."

"He's out of arrows," sighs Cap.

"Aw, come on, Hunger Games!" says the irritated Iron Man.  "What are you doing?  Just pull arrows out of the aliens you already shot, Katniss."

"It's not sanitary," explains Hawkeye.

Later, after Hawkeye injures his bow-pulling fingers fist-bumping the Hulk, he apologies and says he wishes he could've been more help.  "Maybe you can," says Captain America.  "Hulk, grab him."  The Hulk proceeds to swing Hawkeye around in a circle, smacking each of the approaching Chitauri with the archer's body, saving the day.

If you'd like to see the sketch, you can view it below thanks to user Mafalda on MetaTube (feel free to ignore the mute commercial at the beginning)...

Friday, November 16, 2012

DOCTOR WHO: "The Snowmen" Prequel and Trailer Debut

Almost one month before Doctor Who finally returns for this year's Christmas special, to be called "The Snowmen," the BBC's annual Children In Need charity event debuted a four-minute prequel and one-minute trailer introduced by stars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Titled "The Great Detective," the prequel opens on a snowy night "in the time of Queen Victoria" with a voiceover narration by Doctor Who writer/actor Mark Gatiss.  We're reintroduced to the female Silurian Madame Vastra, last seen in the 2011 episode "A Good Man Goes to War," along with her assistant Jenny Flint (finally given a last name) and her henchman, the Sontaran named Strax, whose "countenance was too abominable to be photographed."

Their gang has a fourth member, described as a "shadowy figure whose assistance was only sought in the direst of emergencies."  Of course, it turns out to be the Doctor, who appears exceedingly depressed after being separated from his companions Amy and Rory Williams/Pond during the events of "The Angels Take Manhattan."  In an attempt to engage the grumpy Doctor, Vastra brings him news of a meteor shower of "unexpected timing and density" that she presumes is the result of alien intervention.  Jenny suggests investigating a professor threatening to split the world with a drill designed to penetrate the Earth's crust.  Strax, meanwhile, has declared war on the Moon and claims a race known as the Moonites won't suspect his assault.

Unfortunately, Mr. Grumpy Face isn't interested and informs them that "I don't do this anymore. I've retired."  The Doctor walks away and vanishes into the city streets, leaving Jenny to remark "I think he's means it."  "Yes, my dear," replies Vastra.  "I rather think he does."

As for the trailer to "The Snowmen," we open with Coleman's character Clara telling the story of a man known as The Doctor, who "lives on a cloud in the sky and all he does all day -- every day -- is to stop all the children in the world ever having bad dreams."  After a shot of guest star Richard E Grant, we find the now engaged and curious Doctor asking Strax "When you find something brand new in the world, something you've never seen before, what's the next thing you look for?"  "A grenade," suggests Strax.

We then cut to Madame Vastra who says "The Doctor doesn't help people," followed by The Doctor asking Clara her name, Richard E Grant being especially villainish, "Listen to me, the snow's feeding off your thoughts!", the revealed snow monsters with sharp pointy teeth, and ending with "It will build an army of ice.  It will be the last day of humanity on this planet..."

Christmas Day 2012.  As if you can resist this now.

If you'd like to see the prequel and the trailer, you can view them below thanks to the BBC's YouTube account...

"The Snowmen" Prequel: "The Great Detective"

"The Snowmen" Trailer

Thursday, November 15, 2012

AMERICAN HORROR STORY Renewed for Season 3 with Jessica Lange

First there was the suburban Murder House, then there was the asylum Briarcliff Manor and next year...?

According to Deadline, FX's popular horror anthology series American Horror Story has been renewed for a third 13-episode series airing in fall of 2013.  This will be another season-long storyline with a different setting from seasons one and two, and new characters played by several returning actors. 

Thankfully, this includes star Jessica Lange, who won much-deserved Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards in 2012 for her performance as Constance Langdon in season one.  Lange returned this year for American Horror Story: Asylum, reinventing herself as the equally-creepy Catholic nun Sister Jude.  FX stated that Lange will be moving to the Lead Actress category for the next Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

This news comes almost midway through Asylum's run, which concludes on January 23, 2013.  Last night's episode, "I Am Anne Frank (Part 2)," topped all broadcast networks in the key 18-34 demographic with a 2.1 rating, up 30% in adults 18-34 and 9% in adults 18-49 from the previous week.  FX president John Landgraf remarked, "With American Horror Story: Asylum, Ryan and Brad have raised the bar in every way from Murder House, the first American Horror Story miniseries."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Five DC Comics Villains That Should Appear on ARROW

If you're a DC Comics fan, one of the great things about the CW television series Arrow has been the appearances of various DC supervillains early in the show's first season.  Unlike its predecessor Smallville, which held off using supervillains for first several seasons, Arrow has thankfully embraced the concept by introducing enemies such as China White, Deadshot, Deathstroke, the Royal Flush Gang and Count Vertigo.

Ratings for the series have been strong enough to warrant a full 22-episode season, so as long as they continue to hold up, you might wonder about what other foes Oliver Queen could face at some point in the future.  I know I certainly did, so with that in mind, here are five DC supervillains that would work within Arrow's current "no superpowers" limitations set by the showrunners:

1. Prometheus -- Created by Grant Morrison and Arnie Jorgensen, Prometheus was a formidable threat to the Justice League of America who managed to infiltrate the JLA Watchtower and disable several League members without any superpowers.  He does, however, have impressive physical skills and technology comparable to Batman and has a helmet that allows him to download knowledge of various fighting styles and strategies.  In addition, the character has a significant connection to Green Arrow after maiming Oliver's former sidekick Roy Harper and destroying much of Star City.  This resulted in Green Arrow killing Prometheus by shooting an arrow through the villain's head.

2. Onomatopoeia -- This unusual Kevin Smith and Phil Hester villain debuted in 2002 during Smith's 15-issue Green Arrow run.  Speaking only in sound-effect noises ("Blam," "Snap," etc.), Onomatopoeia is a skilled marksman, martial artist and weapons expert.  He also seems to have a high tolerance for pain and injury, even after being shot with six arrows -- two to one shoulder, one to the other, one in between the first and middle knuckles of his right hand, one through his right foot, and one through the palm of his right hand.  With the right director at the helm, Onomatopoeia could make for a very creepy and tense episode.

3. Amos Fortune -- As a classic Justice League of America supervillain that first appeared way back in 1961, Amos Fortune formed the Royal Flush Gang that will be adapted for the first season of Arrow.  The character's standard speciality is luck and being a genius-level intellect, which could be reworked to cover the use of statistical probabilities, and his background in gambling could feature in a casino story involving a heist or front for criminal activity.  If nothing else, using Amos Fortune could be a good reason to bring the Royal Flush Gang back for a second encounter with Oliver with Fortune as their new leader.

4. Shado -- Although not a pure villain in the strictest sense, Shado is essentially an Elektra-like adversary to Green Arrow's Daredevil.  This Japanese assassin was created by Mike Grell, whose works influence Arrow's depiction of Green Arrow, and has a criminal background as the daughter of a Yakuza agent.  The first time the characters crossed paths, Shado had committed a series of murders to avenge her dishonored Yakuza family, but the two eventually become allies.  Oliver and Shado's relationship developed further into becoming lovers, resulting in a son named Robert that she forbade him from seeing.  Shado is an expert martial artist and master of Kyudo, the Japanese art of archery.

5. Black Mask -- Since Arrow has been pillaging Batman's lesser-known rogues gallery to bring Deadshot and Firefly to the table, there's no reason why this couldn't continue.  One of the few really good Batman villains remaining is Black Mask, a criminal overlord created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake in 1985.  He's basically a street fighter that uses handguns, but his fondness for fear and intimidation makes him more interesting, especially when he engages in brutal and sadistic torture.  Black Mask also has a handy gang of minions known as The False Face Society, which should give Oliver a little extra trouble.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

DAMN Good Movies -- SKYFALL

You know, for a guy who just turned fifty, James Bond still looks great.

Yes, time once again for another of my movie takes, this time on the film Skyfall, the latest in the James Bond series.  As always, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't want it spoiled for you, then please step back from your computer or whatever electronic device you're reading this on and stop reading now.  If, however, you're wise enough to know that movie reviews with spoilers are always more interesting than the ones without them...well...Time to report for duty...

It's been four long years since we last saw Agent 007 in Quantum of Solace, primarily because of studio MGM's financial problems that delayed production until December of 2010.  The break was probably a good thing though, considering Quantum was a pretty disappointing follow-up to Daniel Craig's stellar debut in Casino RoyaleSam Mendes, a guy best known for the films American Beauty and Road to Perdition, was brought in to helm the Bond film's 50th anniversary series that began in 1962 with Dr. No.  To make this production even more unpredictable in terms of quality, screenwriter John Logan (who gave us Gladiator but also Star Trek: Nemesis) joined the returning Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

With Skyfall, Mendes seemed determined to tell a different type of Bond story.  It's not a non-stop rollercoaster ride of action, but more a character drama that really digs into the world of James Bond the way that few of the films have.  This hurts the movie a bit, especially with a a two and a half-hour running time that drags things down around the middle before finishing with a strong climactic ending.

We start off with an exciting chase sequence involving motorbikes across Turkish rooftops along with construction power shovels and trains.  Bond and a fellow agent known only as Eve (for now) are in pursuit of a stolen hard drive, but circumstances force Eve into the dilemma of possibly shooting Bond instead of her intended target.  Bond's superior at MI6, M, orders Eve to take the shot anyway, which she does, but Eve hits Bond who plummets off a very tall train bridge and is presumed dead.

Not a bad teaser, hunh?  This naturally leads right into the opening credits, with a very welcome and traditional Shirley Bassey-style song by Adele.  Themes of death abound, with Bond plunging deeper into dark water and smoke, images of guns and daggers, and gravestones and skulls.  All of this hint at the film's tone of course, but you don't realize how much until the final credits roll.

I'm probably not giving a lot away here to reveal that Surprise! Bond isn't dead.  No, he's just burned out and understandably a little bitter over his boss ordering a killshot that left a nasty scar just below his right shoulder.  Oh, and he may be a bit emotionally damaged in the process.  The disturbing signs are there, from his sudden fondness for sporting graying beard scruff instead of his typical immaculate appearance to his shaking trigger hand.

An attack on MI6 headquarters by the Thames River in London forces the spy organization to relocate to a series of hidden underground bunkers used by Winston Churchill during World War II.  This, of course, brings Bond back into the game, aided by M, Eve and Q, now portrayed as young tech prodigy by Ben Whishaw.  Armed with nothing but a new Walther PPK/S coded to his palm print and a small transmitter radio, bare-essentials Bond goes after the film's revealed villain, the dangerously intelligent and sexually ambiguous Raoul Silva.

This film is an intricate albeit somewhat overlong ride, making use of London more than any other Bond film while giving us some incredible cinematography by Roger Deakins.  The sleek, blue metropolis of Shanghai is blended with a floating casino in Macau and ultimately, the majestic highlands of Scotland.  It's there where Bond and Silva have their final, surprisingly brutal showdown, revealing more than we've ever known about the man with a license to kill.

And then at the end, after threats are vanquished and the bodies are buried, do we understand Mendes' true goal -- concluding the James Bond origin trilogy that began with Casino Royale.  Things are right where we want them to be, in M's office with the traditional padded door, with M's dependable assistant Moneypenny at the ready and Q available for arsenal and tech support.  With everything at last in its proper place, we finally see Daniel Craig earning the famous gunbarrel opening that's been missing since 2002's Die Another Day.  Happy 50th Anniversary, 007, and many more.

So what about the performances from the cast and the characters they portrayed? Well, as you might expect, I have a few thoughts...

JAMES BOND -- Daniel Craig is James Bond.  In fact, it might be time to finally say he's the James Bond.  Once again, Craig brings depth to the role that Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan so glibly charmed their way through.  His burned-out and damaged take on the character gives a number of scenes far more weight than they normally would, but his interactions with M, Moneypenny and others show how Bond approaches different people in different ways.  It's going to be interesting to see where he takes Bond next.

RAOUL SILVA (TIAGO RODRIGUEZ) -- With his previous performance as a psychopathic assassin in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem was a solid choice as this film's villain.  His character Silva is essentially what Bond could be, if pushed down a divergent road by M that ends up in darkness and a bit of insanity.  I was a little thrown that Silva doesn't enter the picture until halfway through, but once he does, he's an extremely formidable threat.

M -- As much as Skyfall belongs to Bond given certain revelations, it also belongs to Dame Judi Dench's final outing as M.  The actress who's been serving since Brosnan's debut in 1995's GoldenEye probably couldn't ask for a better sendoff.  The movie's plot essentially revolves around her character and it was fascinating to see this tiny old woman fend off just about everything that's thrown at her.  But Dench's era as M has passed, bringing us to...

GARETH MALLORY -- Ralph Fiennes steps in as the new M, probably grateful for the change after playing Harry Potter's Lord Voldemort in makeup for so long.  Although initially a tad bureacratic and weasally, Fiennes' Mallory gradually eases into his intended position and proves his worth.  We won't have a good handle on him until Bond 24 arrives, but for now at least, MI6 looks to be in good hands.

EVE MONEYPENNY -- Naomie Harris really impressed me with her introduction as the fourth official Moneypenny.  Far more than just a mere secretary, Harris' Moneypenny is at last a full-fledged MI6 agent capable of assisting Bond in any kind of future mission.  She also brings the electric sexual chemistry with Bond that Lois Maxwell and Samantha Bond (no relation) brought so well.  And as it turns out, she's very skilled with a straight razor which is always a plus.

Q -- Faced with the unenviable task of carrying on for the beloved Desmond Llewelyn, I'm glad the producers went with The Hour's Ben Whishaw.  It makes far more sense to MI6 to utilize a young, computer-savvy ubergeek in this technological-dependent age and it brings this fictional MI6 in line with its real-life counterpart, the Secret Intelligence Service.  As Q himself remarks, modern espionage isn't impressed by exploding pens.

SÉVÉRINE -- Despite being the central Bond Girl, Bérénice Marlohe doesn't really get that much to do apart from directing Bond toward Silva and being the victim of Silva's William Tell target practice using a shot glass of Scotch.  (As a side note, I hope everyone caught that the bottle of Macallan single-malt Scotch is dated 1962.)

KINCADE -- Albert Finney turns up in the third act as the former gamekeeper of Bond's childhood home and the film plot's family historian.  I have to admit, it was a bit strange to see the guy who played Daddy Warbucks in Annie blowing bad guys away with a sawed-off rifle but I thought he did rather well at it.  Even better, he wasn't killed off so there's always a chance of Kincade returning at some point.

All in all, Skyfall is the satisfying 50th film anniversary that it needs to be.  Yes, it's about a half-hour too long and doesn't quite match the impact of Casino Royale, but it's an important film in terms of Bond characters and the overall legacy.  For a movie that essentially serves as house cleaning and rebuilding, it solidly entertains with a terrific cast and some powerful visuals.  While I'm not sure I want to see Mendes return as director the way I do Martin Campbell, I'm glad he managed to put the finishing touches on the series reboot as well as he did.  Most important of all though, James Bond will return...

And for those who may be wondering, here's my ranking of the twenty-three official James Bond Films:

1. Goldfinger (1964)
2. Casino Royale (2006)
3. Skyfall (2012)
4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
6. GoldenEye (1995)
7. Live and Let Die (1973)
8. From Russia with Love (1963)
9. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
10. The Living Daylights (1987)
11. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
12. Doctor No (1962)
13. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
14. Quantum of Solace (2008)
15. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
16. Moonraker (1979)
17. The World is Not Enough (1999)
18. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
19. Thunderball (1966)
20. Octopussy (1983)
21. Licence to Kill (1989)
22. Die Another Day (2002)
23. A View to a Kill (1985)

Your friendly neighborhood movie reviewer,


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DOCTOR WHO's Cybermen Return in Spring 2013 Story by Neil Gaiman

If you're not already a fan of longtime Doctor Who villains The Cybermen, you will become like us in the spring of 2013.

The BBC's official Doctor Who website announced today that the Cybermen will once again face Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor as part of the eight remaining Series Seven episodes.  The episode, currently rumored to be Episode Twelve, will be directed by Stephen Woolfenden and written by none other than Neil Gaiman, who scripted the Hugo Award-winning 2011 story "The Doctor's Wife."

The new Cybermen episode will also feature Harry Potter and Willow actor Warwick Davis, along with Tamzin Outhwaite and Being Human villain Jason Watkins as "a band of misfits on a mysterious planet."

Executive Producer and showrunner Steven Moffat remarked, "Cybermen were always the monsters that scared me the most!  Not just because they were an awesome military force, but because sometimes they could be sleek and silver and right behind you without you even knowing.  And with one of the all-time classic monsters returning, and a script from one of our finest novelists, it's no surprise we have attracted such stellar names as Tamzin, Jason and Warwick."

Neil Gaiman commented on Twitter, posting "I saw my first Cybermen watching (The) Moonbase, as Jamie thought the Piper was coming for him (scary). Then (The) Tomb of the Cybermen terrified me."  Asked if the episode would be scary, Gaiman replied, "I hope so."

The upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special is scheduled for December 25, 2012, followed by the remaining eight episodes in Spring 2013.

Monday, November 5, 2012

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD AND CHROME Debuts This Week on Web, TV Movie in 2013

Remember hearing back in October of 2010 about that cool-sounding prequel to the 2004-2009 reimagined version of the Battlestar Galactica TV series?  And do you remember that it was called Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome and was a two-hour TV pilot that could bring BSG back to the ever-clueless Syfy channel after the failed Caprica prequel?  Oh, and how Syfy made the pilot and took a year and a half to decide that there wouldn't be a new TV series after all, but they might release it on the web someday...Maybe?

Well, it looks like maybe is finally this Friday, November 9th.  At least the first twelve minutes of it.

Entertainment Weekly reported today that Blood and Chrome will make its long-awaited debut on YouTube's Machinima Prime channel, broken up into ten 7 to 12-minute webisodes over the next four weeks.  Thankfully, for those of us who don't dig that sort of nonsense, the two-hour version will supposedly air on Syfy in 2013, followed by an unrated home video release.

Set in the tenth year of the First Cylon War, Blood and Chrome focuses on William "Husker" Adama in his prime.  Adama has just graduated from the Academy and is assigned to the newest Battlestar in the Colonial fleet, the GalacticaHe finds himself in conflict with his co-pilot Coker Fasjovik and is ordered to escort a young woman who turns out to have important information relating to the Cylons.  Presumably, the mission doesn't run overly smoothly.

Luke Pasqualino plays young Bill Adama, with Ben Cotton as Coker Fasjovik, Lili Bordán as Dr. Beka Kelly, John Pyper-Ferguson as Xander Toth and Zak Santiago as Armin "High Top" Diaz.  The pilot was written by Executive Producers David Eick and Michael Taylor, along with Bradley Thompson and David Weddle.  Caprica's Jonas Pate directed with music by returning BSG composer Bear McCreary.

You can check out the new trailer for Blood and Chrome here, thanks to YouTube's Machinima channel...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Guillermo del Toro Working on DC Comics Supernatural Superteam Movie

When there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?  Justice League Dark...busters.

Latino Review posted yesterday that Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro wants to team various supernatural characters from the DC Comics Universe in an epic feature film called Heaven Sent.  This supernatural superteam would include characters such as Deadman, The Spectre, Swamp Thing, John Constantine, The Phantom Stranger, Zatanna and her father Zatara, Sargon and Etrigan the Demon.

According to the article, del Toro's upcoming film Pacific Rim is testing so well that "Warner Brothers wants to offer him everything they have."  This project will take some time to get moving however, because Warner's lawyers are supposedly working day and night to clear the rights for all these characters.  Warner Brothers presumably sees the potential here, considering the insanely huge box office for Marvel's superteam movie The Avengers and that the 2005 film Constantine, based on DC/Vertigo character John Constantine, hauled in over $230 million worldwide.

DC Comics embraced the idea of a supernatural superteam last year with the release of the ongoing series Justice League Dark, which currently features three of the characters listed above along with Black Orchid, Madame Xanadu, Andrew Bennett, Frankenstein and others.