17 March 2010

Casino Royale Revisited!

Casino Royale, Revisited.

By Kristin Battestella

Since I was practically given a used copy of the 2 disc widescreen version of Casino Royale, I thought I might make my screen capture viewing practical and take another look at this 2006 Bond Reboot. My main comments can be found in my initial review, of course-so these are just a few more observations and analysis both pro and con. I like it. I don’t like it. I can’t decide!

To catch up, read my first review first here.

Ready? Onto the nitty gritty!

The black and white opening detailing how Bond got his 00 status is good, I might even have liked to see more time in this dark, brooding vein. The theme song is likewise edgy-although I’ve never heard of Chris Cornell, there is a little similarity in ‘You Know My Name’ to the Bond theme proper. The casino and card suit motifs in the main titles are also Bondoriffic, but where the ^&*(#% are all the saucy ladies? If something’s broke, don’t fix it! Do you know what just occurred to me the other day? All the hullabaloo about Craig’s casting was that he was a blonde. But he had dyed his hair dark for other roles, why couldn’t he just have done so for Bond? Its things like this that keep me up at night!

The African locales are a change of pace from our usually glitzy and glamorous scenery-they seem accurate enough and dangerous looking, if a bit stereotypical. I do however wish there was some Bond music in the Madagscar chase sequence and embassy fiasco. Yes, Bond is supposed to be learning the ropes-if he falls or messes up its okay. But my gosh is Stebastien Foucan superhuman? Freerunning my foot, hello Nightcrawler! The over the top circus leaps and bounds of his catch makes Bond look like an undisciplined bulldog in his pursuit. I do think Daniel Craig over bulked up to play his action influxed Bond. His clothes are too tight and too casual for him and instead of lightening Bond up, it only makes him look like a preppy tightwad. I also wonder if all these new details were supposed to pick up in addition to the big opening chase aren’t all too much. It’s so early and we’re desensitized all at once.

Of course, if you are an observant or repeat viewer, you’ll most definitely notice all the dang Sony product placement. Yes, Bond has had the latest realistic and fantastical gadgets before, but in today’s rapid age, you can’t so heavily showcase current technology. The equipment presented in Casino Royale is already out of date. That’s a little scary in its own right, sure, but I don’t suspect casual audiences are tuning in for one long commercial from the sponsor-a sponsor who’s dumping MGM right now and currently dicking the next movie. Just thought I’d mention that. As I mentioned in my Quantum of Solace analysis, I’m ready for these kinks to be ironed out all ready in the next one!

At least The Bahamas here certainly look more delightful than the cardboard Florida locales in Goldfinger, and the winning of the Aston Martin and babe Solange (Caterina Murino) is all sweet and good. Even though we’ve yet to be formally introduced, she gets to call him James, doesn’t she? The entire airport sequence is great, too, even though I do wonder if we want Bond to be so realistic that he’s battling airport terrorists. In this day and age, how does James Bond get through airport security, anyway? Q would have to be on his toes for that, wouldn’t he? Speaking of Q, now I really don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have had him in the Nassau debriefing and tracking device scene. Wow, it would have been a great place for even a Moneypenny suggestion. You can have a lady assistant beside M or a gadget man and not name them just yet. Make us speculate on how this new Bond and all the players in it are going to be, well, Bond. Even a Penelope Smallbone quip or Molly Warmflash doctor would have been fun.

Now I’ll even been nice right now, for the train ride dinner and introduction of Vesper Lynd is probably my favorite part of Casino Royale. Has anyone ever pegged Bond so right before? To me this conversation gets to the roots of Bond better than all the Bournification. Yes, you can’t spell out Bond’s account password in the amount of buttons he pushed, but the Montenegro card game, and the fight scenes and suspense within are really great. It’s Texas Hold ‘Em, of course, but the subsequent car accident is sweet, too. Unfortunately, Casino Royale takes all that promise and goes downhill from here. Again, that stupid, almost comical torture scene just seems so useless, and then the deus ex machina way out of it just stinks. Le Chiffre can’t play cards without getting hot and bothered but we’re supposed to believe he can castrate Bond without reaching for a tissue or his inhaler. I’m not buying it.

As much as I love Venice, the final half hour of Casino Royale feels bland, tacked on, and yet all to obvious. Anyone who had seen anything Bond previously will know what to expect. And frankly, I don’t care if he’s a 00 wet behind the years, Bond should know better, too. You know what might perhaps stink the most about Casino Royale? The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘Thank God! Okay, he said it, there’s the theme, now we can get on with the series again!’ I never expected the worst, least Bondtastic aspects here to follow in a whole ‘nother movie!

Lastly, for those interested I’ll mention the features on this 2-disc widescreen edition, because I’m sure the blu-ray editions and all that have treats, too. The Becoming Bond short is a half hour devoted to how this all happened, and Bond for Real showcases how all the fancy stunts were done. It doesn’t appear like there are any film commentaries here, but I’m glad the Bond Girls Are Forever television special was included here. Oh, and there’s a music video, too. It’s a little bare, with trailers for other Sony films instead of a package of Casino Royale’s promos. Yeah. Do however, check the sidebar here for my screen capture album. I did it, may as well share it!

Eh, I do recommend Casino Royale as one of the better Bond pictures to franchise fans and casual audiences alike. I enjoy it, it’s an entertaining movie, sure-but it’s still too far from what makes Bond Bond to be perfect. I don’t envy the film’s position of having to save the best of forty years of films while also chasing the modern, short-attention generation by updating a 1953 novel. Today’s audiences are too fickle to appease, so stick with what you know for Bond 23 already, please :0)

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