We learned an interesting tidbit about the soon-to-be-in-production Bond 25 this morning. Shooting begins on April 6th at Pinewood Studios under the working title “Shatterhand.”
Seeing as how “Shatterhand” serves as Ernst Stavro Blofeld alias in Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice novel, we can derive a few choice tidbits from this small piece of information. But first let’s rewind to talk about the goings on since my last dispatch about the long overdue Bond 25 production.
Bourne Ultimatum screenwriter Scott Z Burns has been added to the team of wordsmiths with their hand in the Bond 25 pot. Burns has been brought on, reportedly, for a rewrite on the drafts by Purvis and Wade and Haggis and maybe even Mr. Magoo, who, though uncredited, must have had a hand in crafting the perfectly sensible Spectre plot. Burns has garnered a reputation as being one of the go-to screenwriting doctors in Hollywood.
A number of sources have suggested that Burns’ involvement involves more than a polish, and we shouldn’t be surprised if he receives top billing when all is said and done. He’s done uncredited emergency surgery on films such as The Bourne Supremacy, Widows and Star Wars: Rogue One. I love the fact that EON has brought in fresh blood to “overhaul” the Bond 25 script.
And now what “Shatterhand” tells us about the potential direction of Bond 25.
BLOFELD IS BACK. Seeing as how the term comes from the Blofeld alias, we’re all but assured of a re-emergence of the Blofeld character. As of today, however, Christoph Waltz was still out — so the production will be returning to the amorphous Blofeld appearance which Fleming made a prominent component in his novels. The Bond films primarily made use of this element because of casting convenience. EON will once again return to the rotating Blofeld theory as a means to start fresh after Spectre, but only a little fresh.
GARDEN OF DEATH? In the novel You Only Live Twice, James Bond mourns the death of Tracy by retreating into an alcoholic stupor, in order to revive the slagging career of the agent, M sends him to Japan on a cupcake diplomatic mission. While in Japan, the head of the Japanese Secret Service (Tiger Tanaka) challenges Bond to assassinate a Swiss botanist by the name of Dr. Guntram Shatterhand who has been employing a garden of death to facilitate a rash of suicides by Japanese citizens. Shatterhand is, of course, the refashioned Blofeld, having undergone another physical transformation. I’ve said from the first moment EON announced the return of Blofeld that the only reason to see this character in a Bond movie again would be to film the unused portions of You Only Live Twice, i.e. the Garden of Death.
AVENGING THE DEATH OF TRACY MADELEINE. Tracy can’t be Tracy, but Tracy could be Madeleine and the last thing that Bond needs is another dead woman to avenge. Listen — we’ve seen this before. And better. Madeleine Swann pales in comparison to Vesper. Does anyone believe that Bond fell madly, deeply, truly in love with Madeleine in Spectre? Purely a contrivance to service a poorly constructed narrative. Spectre didn’t earn yet another revenge plot a la Vesper or Tracy.
I’m skeptical, too, Madeleine.
007hertzrumble’s “Shatterhand” Commentary
The Internet is already on fire because “Shatterhand” is “ridiculous” (the Daily Mail) and a “face-palm” (The Guardian). First point, before we go any further down this road. IT’S A WORKING TITLE BECAUSE IT’S NOT OFFICIAL. The working title for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 was “How the Solar System Was Won” for goodness sakes. It might be “Shatterhand;” it might not be “Shatterhand.” I for one hope “Shatterhand” turns out to be legitimate, because LIGHTEN UP, EVERYONE.
Since when did James Bond fans turn into such dour goddamn stick-in-the-muds? Line up “Shatterhand” with Goldfinger and Thunderball and it doesn’t seem out of place at all. Daniel Craig’s been a game player in this saga, but the series has lost one of its earliest and most vital components — a sense of humor. Calling your movie “Shatterhand” suggests some of that devil-may-care whimsy we’ve been missing in the Craig era — and you’d need it if you’re going to dare showcase a Garden of Death. Just because Cragiers fell on a couch in the opening sequence of Spectre doesn’t mean it actually attempted a sustained undercurrent of humor. It wasn’t there — and it hasn’t been there since Vesper died. If EON dropped the name GOLDFINGER on you tomorrow for the first time, it would be tarred, feathered, roasted and thrown in the garbage heap of Internet memes by lunchtime. “Fans” don’t know what they want, but at least they’re predictable in that they’ll hate everything.
Regarding the suggestiveness of “Shatterhand,” I’m conflicted. In order to finally witness the Death Garden on screen, the filmmakers likely will continue threads initiated in Spectre. We risk Madeleine being an ersatz Tracy Bond and dying so that we might experience yet another bit of Craig-brand “revenge.” Craig would be best served by progressing in a fashion reminiscent of the old days. When something didn’t fly with fans, EON moved on without looking back — for better or worse. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service didn’t play well with 1969 audiences, so when EON followed that up with Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 it proceeded as if it never happened at all. Proceed as if Spectre didn’t happen. Liberate your creative forces to do what they do best. Create, without being tethered to the past. And call it “Shatterhand” — because WHY NOT? I’m looking forward to a bit of color back in my Bond.
Also, has there ever been a title song more perfect for Arctic Monkeys’ self-aware lounge swagger?
I’m bored, Bond fans. I’m also tired of being disappointed. I owe that feeling to the lingering stale acidity left in my mouth after Spectre — it’s like I sucked on a lemon three years ago and haven’t brushed my teeth. And you’re yelling back at me things about oral hygiene, but it’s a metaphor and dental health doesn’t matter in metaphors.
By now the #Bond_age_ team should have worked up at least three new podcasts dissecting teaser trailers and posters and casting decisions. Instead we’re on total radio silence because other than some names and scattered casting notions, we’ve got as much information as Blofeld has scruples.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, let’s rundown what we know, what we’re guessing, and what I hope for Bond 25.
What We Know About Bond 25
Before we talk about anything, I’d like to make it clear that Daniel Craig is back. As I said he would be. (Not to brag, but…) So please stop recasting him. For now. Bond 25 comes out February 14th, 2020. After that, we’ll talk.
We know that Danny Boyle was directing a script written by Danny Boyle and Trainspotting screenwriter John Hodge and now he’s not. The EON team cited “creative differences” as the reason for his departure. That means that Boyle wanted to do something different (as he’s want to do) and the Bond institution (the Bondstitution?) said no. This leaves me desperately wanting to know what the hell Danny Boyle had in mind — and how the hell we can see his vision become a reality? An easter egg on the Bond 25 Blu-ray? Lego movie version? Dinner theater?
FIRED. DO NOT PASS GO—LDFINGER. DO NOT COLLECT $200.
We also know that some of the ideas from Boyle’s and Hodge’s script made their way into the current iteration that’s being rewritten by — you guessed it — Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the scribes who’ve tackled every Bond movie since The World is Not Enough. And while they were been behind the typewriters for Casino Royale, they’ve also been responsible for Die Another Day and Spectre. We can’t read too much into their return other than the fact that EON wants to maintain the status quo — a fact we already knew before they ousted Danny Boyle because the only thing more frightening than “change” in the Bond universe is that Jinx spinoff that never materialized.
But now about the directors — which represents the most definitive fact of all the new facts other than “James Bond will return…” Cary Joji Fukunaga has replaced Danny Boyle. Cary Fukunaga might not be a cinephile’s first choice as his most notable work has been done in the realm of TV — most notably True Detective Season 1 and Maniac. He also directed the film Beasts of No Nation about a child fighting in a fictional civil war-torn African country. (No. I haven’t seen it.) The buzz on the Interwebs loves this choice because of Fukunaga’s status as an important up-and-coming cinematic voice. Many have called it a bold direction for the 57-year-old franchise.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9881578ak). Britain Maniac World Premiere, London, United Kingdom – 13 Sep 2018
#Bond_age_ Hot Take: Eh. Based on the limited amount of theatrical work we’ve seen from Cary Fukunaga, I can only generalize. I’m excited because he’s shown a broad range of tonal styles from Jane Eyre to Maniac, but I’m not at all confident he’s going to be given the opportunity to break from the Mendes cycle that dinged Skyfall and castrated Spectre. Once upon a time I felt similar enthusiasm for a director named Lee Tamahori. We won’t get Die Another Day out of Fukunaga, but honestly I wouldn’t be opposed to something in that general direction because it would at least mean that someone’s trying to have fun with this series again.
What We’re Guessing
The reported casting calls for Bond 25 has also shed some light (a nightlight at best) on EON’s aspirations. A call for a charismatic/vindictive Russian/Balkan leading man and leading lady with “strong physical combat skills” (also Balkan). I also read at some point that they were seeking a Maori actor with “combat skills.” It sounds like Babs (aka Barbara Broccoli) has been reading current events and watching Moana and in between bites of Fritos synthesized the two.
Maui’s open to new opportunities.
Back in June, a rumor surfaced that Bond producers wanted Helena Bonham Carter to play the lead baddie. I haven’t heard anything since then to deny or corroborate that bit of news. True or false, that sounds delicious to me and would be the first female lead villain since Sophie Marceau in The World is Not Enough (1999).
We expect the tonal consistency of the Craig era to continue to its logical terminus. Fukunaga has shown a light touch within darker material, however. He’s also said that his first Bond was Roger Moore in A View to a Kill — and he refused to pick a favorite Bond actor because “every single one of them has brought their thing to it and its nice to have that difference…” Keep saying the right things, CJF.
I’m also assuming David Arnold comes back to write the score now that Mendes and his boy wonder Newman have left Gotham — I mean Bondtown — for good.
What else can we assume? Well, we can assume that eventually we’ll get a name, a trailer and a teaser poster. We can assume that people will play roles and that drinks will be had and cars will be driven.
WHO STOLE THE COLOR?
What I Want in Bond 25 (Run-On Edition)
I want every trace of Spectre gone and I never want to see Blofeld again. He can be a villain but I want an arm or maybe a leg. A hairy cat, but I want his visage off my screen. I want Arctic Monkeys to do the theme song because that might actually be fun. Have you listened to their new record? It oozes smug like the coldest of martinis and “Four Out of Five” is basically already a Bond song. I want Bond to make bad puns and gamble and match wits with bad guys. Another female villain would be great. I still say that Monica Bellucci should have been the real Blofeld and that would have made all the difference. I would like a Bond movie with some color. Do you remember how vibrant Goldfinger and Thunderball were? You could feel the blue of Bond’s poolside romper. Raise your hand if you remember any color in Spectre? Even Madeleine’s dress looked overexposed. I want Bond to be a cocky bastard and stop with the tired middie-aged introspection that started in Skyfall (because if Bond can’t survive his midlife crisis what hope is there for the rest of us?!?) and go on an actual goddamn MI6 mission handed to him by an M who sits at his desk and makes snide remarks about Bond’s carelessness. HE WILL NOT GO ROGUE. HE WILL BE IN CONSTANT CONTACT WITH HIS SUPERIORS. HE WILL ENJOY BEING HIMSELF. WE WILL ENJOY BOND. BOND NEEDS TO BE BOND AGAIN.
Thank you. Now let’s have the Arctic Monkeys play us out.
In what must certainly be considered the best news to come out of the Bond camp since the Daniel Craig sported a black tactleneck a Spectre teaser, Danny Boyle has confessed to signing on as director for the next James Bond film. Since this is a page about James Bond, we here at #Bond_age_ feel obligated to share our enthusiasm.
We try not to get too worked up about these early nuggets of news, but since we’ve been sweating out the Christopher Nolan rumors, Danny Boyle’s confirmation turned the #Bond_age_ HQ into a Bacchanalian scene of euphoria last night. This is why you, too, should be excited.
Danny Boyle on the Trainspotting 2 press tour.
Danny Boyle’s a chameleon. The best Bond directors do not insert themselves or their agenda into James Bond. I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that could pinpoint Boyle’s directorial aesthetic. While that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it’s far from it. Some of the same things could have been said about Stanley Kubrick and he turned out alright. To distill this into neat #Bond_age_ reductionism, Boyle is a more talented Martin Campbell. He’s also rather eccentric in his film choices. He’s directed existential sci-fi (Sunshine), horror (28 Days Later), black-as-night humor (Shallow Grave), and some Bollywood (Slumdog Millionaire). Some have called him erratic, but I’d prefer to call him whimsical. Bond’s a different story. The genre’s already in place. He just has to do what he does best.
Boyle’s way with actors and characters in his films most excites me about his Bond potential. I’ve been beating this dead horse for years, but the best James Bond movies give 007 time and space to be James Bond — to drink, to gamble, to woo, to adjust his tie without anywhere particular to be. If it’s also true that Boyle is working on a script with his Trainspotting co-screenwriter John Hodge, this could be the best of all worlds. A character-fueled director working with the writer responsible for arguably his best film.
Also, allow me to remind you (in case it’d slipped your mind) that this wouldn’t be Danny Boyle’s first Bond adventure.
One more tidbit that should be of foremost concern for any James Bond fan heading into Bond 25 — what of David Arnold? Arnold scored every Bond film from Tomorrow Never Dies through Quantum of Solace when Sam Mendes discharged him in favor of his own personal composer, [Jerry Seinfeld]NEWMAN![/Jerry Seinfeld] — thus representing Sam Mendes’ greatest crime against humanity. So. Do you know who wrote the score for that little Danny Boyle helmed Bond short film? That’s goddamn right. David Arnold.
If David Arnold’s back (and I think we can fully expect it), that’s already the best gift Danny Boyle could have given us 20 months before the curtain drops on Bond 25.
Since this all came from the mouth of Boyle, we’ll have to wait for EON’s official confirmation. In the meantime, I’m more than happy to take Danny Boyle at his word. Because it’s the only news upon which we can hang our hats.