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‘Casino Royal’ DVD Review **** 041007
The Work = ****
By starting Bond off as a younger agent ‘Casino Royal’ accomplishes two things: 1) it eases the adjustment to a new actor filling the legendary role and 2) it gives Bond just a tad bit more of a back story than I was expecting. The result is I genuinely liked the story of Bond in ‘Casino Royal’ and it kept me interested in the film through its lengthy runtime and sometimes confusing plot. Craig is a good actor who finds a soul in his character and I was surprised how wrapped up I became in his struggles.
Now is as good a time as any to say I am not the most hard core Bond fan. I always seem to enjoy Bond movies but I can’t remember every detail of every movie and there are probably one or two Bond films that I still have not seen (or have only seen part of them). Thus, the changes brought to the series with ‘Casino Royal’ did not bother me. I like Craig and thought he was a fine choice for the role. Some have said he was miscast and there is apparently quite a bit of resentment from a portion of Bond fans. I was glad that an actor who was able to give a sense of depth to the role was selected. Add to that Craig has buffed up and looks like the most physically convincing Bond since Connery.
Director Martin Campbell and crew have made a film that is perhaps too long but still works. Campbell has helmed a few films I enjoyed (in particular ‘Mask of Zorro’) and he even directed a previous Bond film, ‘GoldenEye’. Here he creates several successful set pieces and crafts an engaging feature. A chase through a construction site is perhaps a highpoint of the film but several other sequences stand out, including a fight down a stairwell.
I mentioned before that the plot became somewhat confusing. Here we find Bond tailing a money launderer. His target is a middle man and as he picks off different adversaries, the real villains begin to emerge. I wish Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) (one of the key players) had more screen time than he does as he is a fairly memorable character. A rivalry that rages between he and Bond never quite reaches the apex I was hoping for.
Then, in the final act of ‘Casino Royal’, loyalties are switched, and villains are double crossed. I’ve seen the film a few times and I think I more or less understand everything that transpires but it is still somewhat vague. I think that a bit stronger last quarter for the villains in ‘Casino Royal’ would have made the film more satisfying. Having Le Chiffre around more may have helped. If the villains and their motivations get confusing, Bond’s story does not. It is his struggles and relationship with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) that keeps me entangled in ‘Casino Royal’.
DVD = ****
Now here is the catch: the two featurettes are really all you will find for ‘Casino Royal’ related material. This is a real bummer, especially considering the reworked nature of the film. Not only that but the film studio didn’t even include the trailer for ‘Casino Royal’. Ditching the trailer is always a pet peeve of mine... So what is left? A featurette clocking in at just under an hour called “Bond Women are Forever”. Released around the time of the previous Bond flic ‘Die Another Day’, the doc’ feels out of place here and is only mildly interesting. Focusing on some of the ladies from the Bond films, there are a few nice moments but for the most part this is pure Bond fluff. That is the end of the bonus material (unless you count some random trailers included on the DVD). Shame. I am probably giving this DVD too high a recommendation but based on the film’s transfer and the two featurettes I am grudgingly giving this a four star rating.
All Together = ****
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