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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"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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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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It's been at least 10 hours since the last new film trailer arrived - but don't panic. Before you start sweating and twitching like a marketing-deprived fool, here's the new Skyfall video blog.

The best thing about your latest promo video fix? It introduces you to the new Ken Adam: Bond 23's production designer Dennis Gassner.



His CV includes The Truman Show, O Brother Where Art Thou? and The Man who Wasn't There - all of them taking place in superbly realised and equally distinct worlds. In other words: he knows his shit, yo.



Licence to Kill BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up.

There's nothing like a secret agent going rogue. Actually, there's nothing like a secret who doesn't: they literally don't exist.

Moles, insiders, traitors, saboteurs, mavericks, heroes, wrongly-accused people - from Harry Palmer and Jason Bourne to Veronica Salt and Ethan Hunt, going rogue is in every secret agent's job description. It's actually expected by your employers. If you don't go rogue at least once in your career, you get bumped off. Probably by another rogue agent.

And that's why I, like many others, love Licence to Kill. It's the nasty Bond film. The one where 007 shows just how much of a bastard he really is (well, that and Benicio Del Toro saying the word "honeymoon").

Dalton, already the steely-eyed murderer of Fleming's novels, is even more cold and ruthless than normal. Going on the rampage to avenge Felix Leiter (brother from Langley)'s death, he practically puts up a sign saying "Roger Moore's eyebrows are not welcome here". Then kills anyone who doesn't bother to read it.

But while John Glen delights in the everyday ambitions of Robert Davi's drug dealing villain Sanchez, and we enjoy the 15-rated blood splattering of THAT pressure chamber death scene (cf. the industrial microwave in Kick-Ass), this is hardly the first time 007 has gone rogue. Pursuing Blofeld, getting Goldfinger, he spends a lot of time disobeying M and chasing his own agenda - he's MI6's Quincy, the government's McNulty, Her Majesty's House. The Columbo of the secret service.

By the time the 1989 outing comes along, he's already a bit of an expert.

So, if you're a patriotic spy and you're concerned about your career progression, take a few tips from the best with this informative pamphlet that came free with my DVD...

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Skyfall set pictures see Bond keeping the British end up

I am, of course, referring to the nodding British bulldog M has got on her desk, not 007 getting a husband's bulge while stalking Bérénice Marlohe.

I don't normally bother with sharing new images that appear on every other site in the world, but these are too gorgeous not to mention. Plus I can use them as an excuse for not doing my BlogalongaBond for this month yet.

Read on for the full Skyfall set pictures (with thanks to Empire). Note: They're still not as good as my exclusive Skyfall on-set photos from the beginning of the year.

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If you've read my BlogalongaBond posts on How to Compose a Bond Theme or How to Write a Bond Score, you'll know that John Barry and Monty Norman's work has always been impossible to beat... until now.

This is the James Bond theme - as played by FLYING ROBOTS.


I for one welcome our new Bond robot overlords.



Thomas Newman, Sam Mendes, Bond 23 - Newman to score Skyfall?

I haven't got around to working on my next BlogalongaBond piece looking at Bond scores, but word this week that Thomas Newman could be picking up David Arnold's baton to provide the soundtrack to Bond 23, aka Skyfall, got my mind racing.

Thomas Newman? A Bond score? Thomas-American-Beauty-Newman? The guy most widely known for Any Other Name, a piece that showcases both his tinkling piano melodies and die-hard love of the vibraphone? 

It's a pretty clear indicator that Sam Mendes is making himself at home in the director's chair - after five Bond films on the trot, it takes a lot to remove David Arnold from scoring duties.

Newman, presuming he does get the job (likely, given his previous collaborations on all of Mendes' work, except for Away We Go), would be the *counts quickly on fingers* ninth person to compose Bond music. John Barry, of course, led the way, arranging Monty Norman's guitar-twanging theme for Dr. No and defining the franchise's sound. George Martin, Marvin Hamlisch and Bill Conti all tried to fill his shoes with varying pop-tinged, electro-scores that never quite fitted the bill. (The opening of For Your Eyes Only is enough to make your ears cringe like a young woman being kissed by Roger Moore.) Michael Kamen warmed down from Die Hard with some typically excellent work, while Eric Serra's Goldeneye soundtrack... erm, yeah. That also exists.

So is Newman better suited to the task? A quick listen to one of his tunes from American Beauty (Dead Already) doesn't raise hopes:



But one quick change to that riff and things are starting to sound like they're on the right track...

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With Naomie Harris flying around t'internet as a strong candidate for the next Bond Girl, I think we've all forgotten about the real 007 campaign that needs our support as Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig prepare for Bond 23.

That's right, I'm talking about James Bond. And X-Men: First Class. And a certain sexy someone with two legs and one hell of an arse. No, not January Jones.




If we can't get him in that tux, I'll gladly take him in a dress. Or out of a dress for that matter.



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