A predictably star-studded press conference today finally heralded the return of James Bond to Her Majesty's cinematic service. And it now has a proper name: goodbye "Bond 23", hello SKYFALL.
There's been a prodigious amount of first-rate talent hired both in front and behind the camera for this next instalment. Daniel Craig returns to the fray as Bond, as does Dame Judi Dench as M. New blood includes Naomie Harris as a fellow spy and Bérénice Marlohe as Severin, an "enigmatic yet glamourous" character. The big new additions to the cast are Javier Bardem, Albert Finney and Ralph Fiennes.
It's hotly rumoured that main villain Bardem will be portraying arch-nemesis Blofeld, after a legally-enforced absence from the series of some thirty years. At the press conference, producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli made reference to three former Bond characters making a surprise return. It's a good bet that two will be Moneypenny and Q - could Blofeld be the third? Just to add some credibility to the rumour, director Sam Mendes was quick to stress that SKYFALL would not be connected in any way to either CASINO ROYALE or QUANTUM OF SOLACE. So that means criminal organisation Quantum won't be reappearing...leaving a conveniently SPECTRE-shaped gap to fill.
So far, so good, so SKYFALL. Or is that SKYFAIL? Or SKIFFLE? It's not a strong title for the film, sounding more like a bad SF book.The Bond films have been blessed with many great titles - FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, LIVE AND LET DIE...Even the otherwise wretched QUANTUM OF SOLACE had Ian Fleming DNA in its name, the title coming from one of his 007 short stories. SKYFALL rather lets the side down.
Another anouncement that was made but overlooked is that Roger Deakins is the film's director of photography. Deakins is arguably the world's best DoP, with nine Oscar nominations under his belt. He's the Coen Brothers' first choice for photography and has worked twice before with Mendes. If nothing else, SKYFALL is going to look terrific.
A promising start, then, to the next Bond epic. The film gets released late October 2012 in the UK, early November in the US.