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DVD review: CASINO ROYALE

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CASINO ROYALE

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 144 minutes, three featurettes, music video, previews

STUDIO: MGM/ Columbia Pictures/ Eon Productions/ SPHE

RELEASE DATE: 3-13-2007

Rebooting a character has been very popular these days. First, a new Zorro and then Batman got the back to basics approach with BATMAN BEGINS. Now James Bond's first mission as 007 gets the big screen treatment in CASINO ROYALE. It was the first Ian Flamming novel of the famous spy that has thrilled audiences in 20 films over 40 years with CASINO ROYALE being number 21 in the official James Bond series. I had no doubt that Daniel Craig would make a great Bond after his great acting turn in LAYER CAKE (I still want to see Clive Owen as James Bond though). He's the best Bond since Sean Connery and this movie is one of the closest to the way the character was written in the novels.

The pre-title sequence is in black and white as you see how Bond got to be 007. The Chris Cornell song still hasn't grown on me, but it does work could as part of David Arnold's music during the film. The action sequences are well staged and kept me glued. Bond is a an arrogant cocky guy with the daring things he does as 007 as he hacks into M's computer and breaks into her apartment in addition to other unorthodox methods he applies in the field. He tracks down leads to a banker for terrorists, LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). Bond stops a prototype jumbo jet from being destroyed which causes LeChiffre to enter into a high stakes poker game at Casino Royale Montenegro. MI6 tells Bond to play against Lechiffre and win. Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) is Bond's back-up. Bond soon finds out the poker game is just the beginning for him.

CASINO ROYALE does seem to ramble on for a while after the famous card game between Bond and LeChiffre. CASINO ROYALE isn't dull or boring for any matter, but I wonder if the pacing could have been tightened up for the last half hour. I do like to see Bond without his gadgets and without breaking into some super hideout owned by the super Bond bad guy out to change the world's power balance. I do miss Q though, but CASINO ROYALE is a close cousin to classics in the series like FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. So James Bond doesn't have to be camp and over-the-top to work effectively. My only big disappointment with the casting is the black guy who plays Felix. I hope they recast the part for the next film with a better actor or have a director show this actor can actually play Felix.

The movie leaves on a cliffhanger as Bond as after the mysterious organization that plays a big part in the last 40 minutes of CASINO ROYALE. I hope that means SPECTRE will be showing up by name in the next Bond film. It really depends on what they do in the next film will make CASINO ROYALE just a good film or a classic Bond movie.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen) or 1.33:1 (Full Frame)

SPHE is up to a new trick by inserting bad sectors on purpose into the transfer which causes some computer DVD sofatware programs and a few DVD players not to play the movie at all or not very well.

AUDIO: English 5.1, Spanish 5.1, French 2.0 Dolby Surround

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

featurettes on disc two have subtitle options of Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean

SPECIAL FEATURES:

BECOMING BOND focuses on teh casting of Daneil Craig with a little bit of the pre-production and production of CASINO ROYALE. Too bad they didn't show the screen tests for Craig.

JAMES BOND: FOR REAL centers on the three major action sequences in CASINO ROYALE.

BOND GIRLS ARE FOREVER (2006) is a made for TV special which is updated to include CASINO ROYALE. Conversations with all of the Bodn girls in the James Bond films.

Chris Cornell's music video for You Know My Name is also included on disc 2

TRAILERS: SPIDER-MAN 3, SPIDER-MAN 2.1, PREMONITION, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, THE HOLIDAY, ROCKY BALBOA

Sadly neither of the two CASINO ROYALE trailers seen on other SPHE releases are included on this release. SPHE has got to stop this practice and start including the original theatrical trailers like they used to years ago.

FINAL ANALYSIS: CASINO ROYALE is one of the better Bond films, but the lack of many extras means there is a douple dip probably in time for the release of the next James Bond film.

RELATED DVD Reviews:

JAMES BOND Ultimate Edition Volume 3:

http://enterline2.tripod.com/james_bond_vol3.html

JAMES BOND Ultimate Edition Volume 4:

http://enterline2.tripod.com/james_bond_vol4.html

this review is (c)3-17-2007 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com