As the new James Bond 007 film, "Skyfall," starts to come into focus, we're getting some idea about what to expect just based on the casting in the film.  And by far, one of the most exciting details to emerge for old-school Bond fans is the idea that we're finally going to see the return of Q branch in this new film in the form of Ben Whishaw.

I really dug Whishaw in "Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer," and he's been interesting in things like the TV series "Nathan Barley" and the film "Stoned," where he played Keith Richards.  I'm curious to see what role or roles he has in "Cloud Atlas" next year, which sounds ambitious and bizarre, but in the meantime, just knowing that he's playing Q means we're going to see the return of what used to be one of the highlights of the entire series.

I love that they shook up the formula when Daniel Craig was hired to play the character, and I think it's important that the series took a break from having every single film with an identical structure.  They'd gotten to a point where it was sort of deadly dull to sit through the films, no matter who was playing the part of Bond, and I felt bad as a fan of the character to start actually dreading the new movies.

I'm still surprised by the overt hatred some people have for "Quantum Of Solace," because while I agree it's nowhere near as complete a film as "Casino Royale" was, I think that taken together, they suggest a very exciting direction for the Bond series, and they create a continuity, something that the Bond films have never been very good at.  I love the way the first two Craig films set up a major criminal organization that no one knew existed, and I hope they're going to keep that thread alive even as they tell what sounds like a free-standing story this time around.

Look at the cast they're putting together for this one.  Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes, and Albert Finney are not your average Bond supporting actors, and when you add Javier Bardem as the bad guy?  Well, this sounds like the real deal, a big movie that just happens to be a Bond film instead of just business as usual.  I'm curious to see what Sam Mendes does with the action scenes, because he's obviously not a filmmaker who has a huge background in the sort of major action set pieces that distinguish the series.  That shouldn't be a problem, though, because I'm sure he'll be surrounded by some great people to help with that, and he's got Roger Deakins shooting the film, so it's going to be gorgeous.

Just knowing that at some point, Bond is going to visit Q sector to get fitted with some new gear that just might save his ass later in the film gives me a warm feeling, though.  While I don't want the same film every time with this series, it's nice to see some of the touchstones showing up again in a new way.

Europe's going to see "Skyfall" on October 26, 2012, and we'll get it here in the US in just under a year from now, on November 9, 2012.