Casino Royale (2008) - Collector's Edition [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Action / Drama / Thriller|
|Sony || PG13 - 144 minutes - $38.96 || October 21, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-10-28|
Writer(s): Ian Fleming (novel); Neal Puvis & Robert Wade and Paul Haggis (screenplay)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench
Theatrical Release Date: November 17, 2006
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[Note: This is from my original theatrical review edited and updated, although my feelings on the movie remained the same as they did 2 years ago.]
Unlike Timothy Dalton’s last outing, License to Kill, Brosnan’s Die Another Day, despite being the most over-the-top of the Bond films I’ve seen, was the highest grossing James Bond movie (LTK - $34.67m, DAD - $160.94m). Point is, although it made a decent amount, getting rid of Brosnan looked like a head-slapping move for producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and that’s not to mention casting blonde actor Daniel Craig to fill the suave spy’s shoes.
The question of the hour is: how does Craig stack up with the likes of Connery or Brosnan? Lazy answer: it’s too early to tell. What I will say is, Craig is unlike any Bond I’ve seen, but at this point, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Craig certainly fits the darker mold that this reboot is taking James Bond. Casino Royale shows how Bond became Bond, not only receiving his double “00” status, but his perception and mistrust of others.
While he’s still a man’s man, jumping off buildings, driving fast cars and seducing beautiful women, there is that extra touch of darkness mixed with his naiveté’s in dealing with delicate situations. Yes, previous incarnations were brash and rarely thought their actions all the way through, but Craig’s Bond makes mistakes. In one instance, a minor bad guy actually gets the jump on him.
Casino Royale stars Daniel Craig as the sixth (if my math is correct) James Bond who, after a lengthy chase that ends with a bang (and embarrassment to MI6), he follows clues that takes him around the world, tracking villain and risky-gambler Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen) -- like any good Bond villain, he has a quirk, blood for tears. He also makes acquaintances with a beautiful member of the British treasury, Vesper Lynd (Green). What follows are more car chases, lovely vixens and an angry and mistrustful M (Dench, reprising her role from the last four Bond flicks).
While I can’t yet crown Daniel Craig as a great James Bond, he is off to a solid start. This reboot features what everyone expects from Bond like the Ashton Martin car, other nifty gadgets and just that all around ruthlessness that makes him the hero he is (even when it feeds the ego). For his part, Craig does make a solid James Bond and he’s helped by solid performances in everyone from Eva Green as the new Bond girl, Jeffrey Wright in a cameo-esque role, veteran Giancarlo Giannini, Dame Judi Dench and Mads Mikkelsen, whose sole purpose is not world domination, but high stakes gambling.
Director Martin Campbell takes on the challenge to reboot the franchise. He previously directed Brosnan’s rookie showing in GoldenEye with good results and Campbell manages to capture the dark nature of not only Bond, but the film as a whole. As a director, Campbell has solid work in his background, though nothing great. Mask of Zorro and its sequel, Legend of Zorro are good and entertaining, but he isn’t exactly known for this style, so compared to others, Casino Royale distinguishes itself from his other films and certainly from previous Bond movies as well.
Oscar winning writer Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash) contributes to the screenplay alongside previous Bond-writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and it seems the latter provided the action material and Haggis was brought on board to give it some edge. I’m glad to see they teaming together once again for Quantum of Solace...
If there was one fault in Royale, it would be that it’s too long and could’ve been cut down by a good 10-minutes. At 144-minutes, this entry sticks with the rest that, save for a couple Bond films, is in-line time-wise, but it seems like this could’ve been even tighter with the story.
My opinion on Craig is still on hold until Quantum of Solace, but as a film, Casino Royale is a solid spy-thriller that takes James Bond to a darker place while still keeping in touch with his sly humor and all the things that makes the franchise as popular as it has been for 40+ years.
My oh my, I don’t know if I should be impressed with the amount of extras or pissed that Sony held back after releasing a lame ass edition prior (on both DVD and BD). But now this Blu-ray release contains two discs of features to keep you busy for hours.
Picture-in-Picture Visual Commentary – Director Martin Campbell and producer Michael Wilson provide a by-the-book track providing bits of trivia throughout on making the movie, casting Bond and rebooting the franchise. An exclusive for the Blu-ray is a small PiP window where you can see the two of them watching the movie. It’s not very original, but kind of nice to have to keep things interesting. ** Partial Blu-ray Exclusive ** [New]
Crew Commentary – This is a mish-mash of a track that features several members of the crew in a spliced commentary. Crew members include: Producer Barbara Broccoli, Director of Photography Phil Meheux, Casting Director Debbie McWilliams and Editor Stuart Baird amongst others. [New]
Last thing on disc one is a Know Your Double – O: The Ultimate James Bond Trivia Quiz which is kind of cool but gets tiring after a bit and takes a long time to load. For someone who hasn’t seen the older Bond movie in a while, I did alright. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** [New]
There is also BD-Live content that I’m sure includes possibly trailers for Sony titles and perhaps more in the future. ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** [New]
Disc two has several new features:
Deleted Scenes (7:30) – One of the more disappointing new features is just 4 scenes that were rightfully cut from the film; most of them were extended scenes. What I did like, though, was the scenes here were mentioned in the commentary so it’s not a waste. [New]
The Road to Casino Royale (26:34) – This is a fantastic featurette that chronicles how the film came to be from the rights holders, the spoof comedy from MGM, how it ultimately got back into the hands of the producers and how it was the right time for the franchise to get a reboot even though Die Another Day was a financial hit. [New]
Ian Fleming’s Incredible Creation (21:14) and Ian Fleming: The Secret Road to Paradise (24:28) are two fantastic featurettes that will give you insight into the James Bond author, his relationships and the toll of the whole Thunderball ordeal had on him. [New]
James Bond in the Bahamas (24:15) – Another good featurette, this one chronicling the history of the Bond franchise in Paradise Islands in the Bahamas that was also used in Thunderball and other Bond-films. Interestingly, the opening sequence that takes place in Madagascar was filmed in the Bahamas, one part in an abandoned building that can be seen in previous Bond movies. [New]
Death in Venice (23:18) takes a look at how the climatic sequence was filmed by taking footage from Venice and blending it with on-stage filming for the sinking building. [New]
Becoming Bond (27:24) is one of the better featurettes that has interviews with the cast and crew about the reboot for franchise and the pressure on Daniel Craig after he was announced as the new James Bond by the fans.
James Bond: For Real (24:33) takes a look at the stunt work done on Casino Royale and how they wanted to keep is “real” rather than relying too heavily on visual effects.
Bond Girls Are Forever (42:00) was, I believe, a TV special that also was on the original DVD release that features some of the gals who appeared in the Bond movies including Halle Berry from Die Another Day. Featured in non-anamorphic widescreen.
The Art of the Freerun (13:38) is a basic featurette on the rise of the art of free-running and using one of its creators, Sebastien Foucan in a big part. [New]
Catching a Plane: From Storyboard to Screen (13:47) – This is a basic featurette with Martin Campbell explaining the benefits and necessity of storyboarding certain scenes during pre-production. [New]
Filmmaker Profiles (53:02) – With this you get to hear from the filmmakers talk about their time on Casino Royale and their own experiences with the Bond franchise on the whole whether it is working on the previous movies or their memories from childhood. This features Martin Campbell, Special Effects Coordinator Chris Corbould, Director of Photography Phil Meheux, Stunt Coordinator Gary Powell, 2nd Unit Director Alexander Witt and Composer David Arnold. [New]
Also included is a Storyboard Sequence: Freerun Chase (20:14) [New], Chris Cornell’s Music Video (4:08) featured in non-anamorphic widescreen.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Casino Royale is presented in 1080p High-Definition and it is stunning to look at. The 2.40 AR looks great and colors are sharp, crisp and clear. This was everything I expected from this Blu-ray and it delivered. The BD disc uses a MPEG-4 AVC codec.
On the other hand, I wasn’t as enamored with the Dolby TrueHD track. Although the soundtrack is very good and dialogue, ambient noises and David Arnold’s score comes through nicely, it was not as rich as I expected. This is still a solid audio track, but I’ve heard better on Blu-ray. It is a step up from the original BD release which only offered a PCM 5.1 track.
Casino Royale on Blu-ray looks fantastic and although the audio isn’t the greatest, it’s still pretty solid. But the crown jewel for this Collector’s Edition that makes it a worthwhile double-dip for those who already own the original Blu-ray (or DVD) release is the special features.