Mockingjay: Part 1

Turns a political struggle into something thrillingly personal.

The Beat Beneath My Feet

A toe-tapping indie that is, quite simply lovely.


An extraordinary true tale made disappointingly ordinary.

The Battle of the Five Armies

"Why does it hurt so much?" Because the rest of it felt so real.


iFlicks on Twitter


James Bond Gunbarrel Cupcakes

Fact: The Spy Who Loved Me was originally called The Spy Who Loved Cupcakes.

Ok, that's a total lie. I made that up. But you know what else I made up? These James Bond cupcakes - because when you go and see Skyfall, there's nothing more annoying than crunchy, noisy, messy food. Movie cupcakes? Not a problem. Especially when they look this good. Yes, like Daniel Craig these baked goods are suave, sexy and can't wait to punch you in the mouth. Unlike Daniel Craig, they're edible. (Although that wouldn't stop Javier Bardem having a go.)

How can you make your own Bond cakes? Now pay attention, 007. And read on for the usual mix of pictures, ingredients, instructions, nudity, cars, guns and blood.

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Quantum of Solace title

BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Skyfall comes out tomorrow. (OH MY GOD SKYFALL IS OUT TOMORROW! AT LONG LAST. ALL THAT ROGER MOORE WAS WORTH IT.)

It wasn't without excitement that I went into Quantum of Solace. After Martin Campbell's brilliant Casino Royale, Bond's return was a cinematic event worth salivating over. Even the choice of Marc Forster seemed promising - an arthouse director helming a blockbuster? What a grand idea!

But while Daniel Craig's craggy, emotional 007 remained a captivating hero - more a landmine than a lead actor - everything else was kind of, well, dull. There are good bits, let's be clear on that. The environmentally-aware Bond villain (an amusingly whiney Mathieu Amalric) and double-crossing CIA plans are proper shades of grey stuff, but while the set-up is promising, Quantum forgets to add a plot. Was it the writers' strike that left them without the time to finish writing the film? Whatever the reason, the end result was a Bond movie with 25% of a script and 75% white noise. So they did what any blockbuster would and filled it with action.

That wouldn't be a problem if it was good action. But it isn't. Like Yakult, there are good types of action and bad types of action - and this is the bad type. The kind you wouldn't want anywhere near your body, just in case it blew up sideways and chopped your face off.

And that really is how you feel for most of the runtime. The opening begins with a glorious tracking shot over an Italian lake, carefully intercut with shots of Bond’s Aston Martin. But once that shot is finished, the footage is over-edited to shreds. With the exception of one crosscutting night at the opera, the set pieces are so kinetic that you can't tell what's happening; a tin of tuna could direct a better action sequence. At least it would be stationary. At one point during that opening car chase, it looks like Bond drives off a cliff and explodes to death. When Bond finally stops and says it’s time to get out to his shaken and stirred passenger, he’s not the only one ready to leave.

It wasn't without excitement that I went into Quantum of Solace. It was with confusion that I left.

So what went wrong? Two things: Matt Chesse and Richard Pearson. How did the editors screw up so badly? They probably read this informative pamphlet I found in my DVD box...

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James Bond adverts

Right. Forget Heineken. If you’re wound up about Bond selling out to Dutch lager for $45 million, get over it. It’s not as if 007 hasn’t advertised products before. Fleming’s agent was defined by the brands of things he used – product placement and sponsorship in the movies is a natural continuation of that.

Besides, that Skyfall Heineken advert is nothing compared to some of the other James Bond TV adverts we’ve seen in the past. Sky-full, Casin-Coke Royale, Quantum of Sony. Here are the top 10 007 ads from the last 50 years of Bond...

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"What I can't remember, I'll just have to make up…"

As we count down the days to Skyfall’s cinema release, I’m not going to bother ranking all the different Bonds in a row – we all know Roger Moore is bottom anyway – but one 007 thing I’ve been guiltily enjoying is Moore’s book, Bond on Bond.

Sir Roger may have been the worst Bond, too many laughs and not enough anything else, but Bond on Bond has taught me to love the guy.

“Back then I could leap out of a chair without fear of my knees cracking; could chew a toffee without fear of losing a tooth; could admire my flowing locks and my bronzed, slim torso,” he gushes in the book.

"With a twitch of the old eyebrow I set pulses racing across the world. These days it’s my pacemaker that keeps my pulse racing.”

The book itself, which runs a decent 224 pages, is well presented with lots of sexy pictures and movie stills. But it doesn’t contain much critique of the franchise – he says Daniel Craig is the best 007, but that’s about it – instead turning into a roundup of facts and figures have been covered in better (and now cheaper) anthologies.

Why bother with it? Because Moore’s dry prose is rather charming stuff. It’s like listening to your granddad waffle on about something for hours - but that something happens to be the longest-running franchise in movie history..

Here are some my favourite bits…

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Daniel Craig, Skyfall review
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes
Certificate: 12A

Skyfall has already been described by several excitable people as the best Bond movie of all time. It’s not. But that’s partly because it’s not a Bond movie – it’s a movie about Bond. And that’s something very special indeed.

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Casino Royale titleBlogalongaBond. One Bond film each month until Skyfall in October.

Finally. Casino Royale. Following the mountain of butt-nubbins that was Die Another Day, Daniel Craig’s arrival was a shot of pure 007 joy – like getting a blowjob from Sophie Marceau after a one-night stand with Jaws.

Martin Campbell returned to the helm to do what he did best: reboot the franchise to fit its era. Brosnan’s 90s baptism by Russians smartly played up the irony while allowing for some revenge. Craig’s noughties cocktail kept the cold-blooded part – a cornerstone of Ian Fleming’s character – and added in a dash of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s sorrow.

But it was more than that: as well as nailing Bond’s character, Casino Royale knew when to blow things up and when to sit things out. Gone are the CGI surfboards and ice palaces; in their place, clever exchanges of dialogue and games of cards. After an explosive first half (and some bold opening credits), it really does feel like we’re back in Dr. No territory. Casino Royale didn’t out-Bourne Jason Bourne by punching people in the face. It did it by staying quiet for the middle act and letting Craig’s dormant landmine take centre stage.

And then there’s Eva Green - EVA GREEN – whose independent streak and sexy smarts made her the first, and arguably best, Bond girl of the series. She’s the perfect companion for Mads Mikkelsen’s quiet, calculating Bond villain, both of them adding realism rather than camp humour to proceedings.

Held together by David Arnold’s absolutely stonking score, Casino Royale doesn’t so much slap Die Another Day around the face as strap Pierce Brosnan to a chair and whip his cheesy balls with a rope while yelling: “Will you yield?” It’s a cathartic release for everybody.

Still, Casino Royale’s not the first time United Artists/MGM have tried to reboot Bond. OHMSS removed the polish of Diamonds Are Forever. For Your Eyes Only scaled back Moonraker. GoldenEye resurrected 007’s misogynistic dinosaur. The boldest restart, though, occurred in 1992, way before Martin Campbell entered the frame. And its legacy – nay, its example – lives on to this day.

I am talking, of course, about James Bond Jr.

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New Skyfall poster

There's no two ways about it. The new Skyfall poster makes no sense. Just look at Daniel Craig's expression, which has puzzled many Bond fans. The truth is quite simple. He's thinking: "What the hell happened?" 

I tried to answer his question. Here are the best three explanations I could come up with...

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Die Another Day title

BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Skyfall turns up.

If The World Is Not Enough saw Pierce Brosnan lose control of his cheese-nibbling habit, Die Another Day saw The Bronhomme dive face-first into a giant vat of brie. Terrible dialogue, ludicrous science, a dumb plot. All of it stinks of mouldy lactose. It’s a proper, not-safe-for-humans, toxic Dairylea dunker of a film.

So concerned with 007’s 20th anniversary were Eon, they gave writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade free reign to do whatever the hell they wanted. Despite turning out a solid TWINE script, the result here was a string of nonsensical set pieces and stupid villains all conceived with the sole purpose of constantly referring to Bond’s birthday – like a drunk uncle who forgets what day it is and tries to fob you off with a tenner the morning afterwards.

Old props appeared, parachutes popped out and Bond continued into space with technology that Roger Moore could only dream of. Make no mistake: this was the Moonraker of the 21st Century. But featuring some extra bullshit about DNA.

Even the henchmen were rubbish, half of them only invented just as an excuse for a pun. “My name is Mr. Kil,” says one after opening a car door. “That’s a name to die for,” retorts Bond. This has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the film.

And we still haven’t got to that flipping invisible car. As if ruining John Cleese wasn’t bad enough, Die Another Day then had to go and tarnish the reputation of the Aston Martin as well, drowning everyone and everything in a river of melted brie.

And THEN, after paddling up and down in Aston Martin’s cheddary fondue grave, it had the gall to take Ian Fleming’s gritty, manly secret agent and dump him in the middle of a CGI surfing set piece that’s closer to a SNES game than a Hollywood blockbuster. You couldn’t be cheesier if you were listening to Come On Eileen on a New Zealand LPFM radio station (called Cheese) while wolfing down Wensleydale and reading Cheese!, the monthly Japanese manga magazine. You might as well replace Pierce Brosnan with a CGI Cheese String for all the difference it makes.

It’s a wonder, then, that Die Another Day starts off so phenomenally well. The Bronhomme grows a proper beard, is banished by M and winds up out of date in the changed, modern world of espionage. Why? Because director Lee Tamahori had one good idea: trying to kill Bond. He spends the whole of the opening credit beating the heck out of 007 in a North Korean jail cell. Oh yes, that Tamahori was a sadistic git, all right.

But even before the near-death of 007, Die Another Day’s introductory sequence is top-notch. How can you rival such a thrilling, surprising slice of entertainment?

The first step is to read this informative pamphlet I found in my Die Another DVD case…

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Wait, Vince Vaughn is in Skyfall? 


Skyfall cinema standee 

Discovered by Marc Foley-Corner (@marcfc).



Javier Bardem, Skyfall International trailer

"The two survivors... this is what she made us."


After a week of pointless teasers for trailers, the full Skyfall international trailer is finally here – and by Ben Whishaw’s specs, it’s spectacular.

It builds on the teaser trailer with some surprising details: the opening few shots alone are enough to make you rewind and start again. But then it settles down into a confident rhythm, introducing Javier Bardem’s blonde villain (he’s a better brunette), Ralph Fiennes’ MI6 official and, perhaps most importantly, a hint of what Skyfall might be.

Missing hard drives, encoded lists, murdered secret agents, chases on trains. Think 1995’s Mission: Impossible, but with YouTube instead of floppy disks. (Judging by the hit count on the leaked vide, floppy disks are far less secure.) Then add in Ben Whishaw as an anorak-wearing Q (don't worry: he gets lots of sarcastic laughs in the not-yet-online Skyfall IMAX trailer), a liberal splash of Judi Dench and Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography (check out those silhouettes again), and you have a cracking bit of espionage that looks as low-key as Spooks and as ridiculous as The World Is Not Enough. *straightens cuffs*

Read on for the Skyfall international trailer. And keep an ear out for Thomas Newman’s late reworking of Monty Norman’s Bond riff, a machine gunning rhythm that takes the signature notes offbeat – very different to the drum arrangement from the first Skyfall trailer, which is a promising sign for the composer’s first Bond score.

He’s also got a taste for the choral, by the sounds of it, which feels very similar to the music for Casino Royale’s trailer. Colour my eardrums - and the rest of me - interested.

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