Casino Royale, Blu-ray (2006)

by | Apr 7, 2007 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Casino Royale, Blu-ray (2006)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench
Studio: Columbia Pictures 16336
Video: 2.40:1 1080p enhanced for 16:9
Audio: English uncompressed 5.1 PCM; English, French or Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai
Extras: “Becoming Bond”; “James Bond For Real”; “Bond Girls Are Forever”; Chris Cornell music video
Length: 144 minutes
Rating: *****

Although the British press made fun of the new James Bond when he was first unfurled to them – joking that he wore a life jacket when riding up the Thames on a military launch for photographers – the general opinion since the theatrical release of this latest in the evergreen 007 series of movies seems to be that Craig is one of the best Bonds to date. This was Ian Fleming’s very first Bond book and was made years ago as a spoof, paving the way for Austin Powers to come later.  Producer Albert Broccoli negotiated to get the rights to Casino Royale and remade it as a serious Bond film adhering more closely to the book.

Bond has just become a 007 but is already showing his penchant for stubbornly going his own way and not always being at the beck and call of “M” – played yet again by the wonderful Judi Dench. There is much less of the past gadget-ridden 007 – in fact almost none at all. Bond has only himself as his major weapon against the baddies, and he often ends up the worst for wear in his pursuit of them.

His initial mission is tracking down an international financier who handles funds for various traffickers in terrorism.  It takes him to Prague (don’t think you misadjusted your player because these scenes are in black & white), then the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro and later Venice. In the prologue he blows up a foreign embassy in Africa after chasing on foot a bomber who is played not by an actor but the founder of the parkor running sport. A major section of the setting in Montenegro is a lengthy poker game with extremely high stakes. In one of the extras the director speaks about the challenges of maintaining cinematic interest during the game with just the faces of the ten players and their various cards and chips. Well, having zero interest in gambling, he failed to maintain it with me.

Aside from the casino scenes, the film kept my interest, and Bond’s personality seemed more believable than any previous actor in the role. The extra featurette on the special effects is interesting in explaining the scene when Bond’s Aston Martin has to roll over to avoid running over his girl friend in the road. The stunt people couldn’t make the racing-savy car roll at all, even using special ramps, so they had to build a piston affair into it to be tripped at the correct instant to flip the car. As a result they made the Guiness Record Book with seven rolls of the vehicle in the shot. Although Bond had no special gadgets, penultimate scene turned out to be one of the biggest special-effect sets ever built at the UK studios. It was a sinking building in Venice (for reasons not explained either in the film or even in the extras). We all are aware that Venice is sinking, but not that fast…

Seeing a recent widescreen film in hi-def was a treat; I soon moved my sofa closer to my 56″ display so I could appreciate the impact of the highly detailed images. If gambling is your thing, you’ll have no trouble seeing every last card being played, even at the edges of the screen. Details such as Bond jumping from one girder to another 200 feet up, even in very long shots, are sharp as a tack –  must have provided quite a challenge in matching shots of the stunt doubles to those of Craig. The uncompressed PCM surround option provided the most big-theater action movie sound I’ve yet had in my viewing/listening room.  I couldn’t compare to the Dolby 5.1 tracks, because the Blu-ray player I’m using refused to play them.

 – John Sunier

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Apollo's Fire
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01