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Blu-ray Review Casino Royale (2006) Steelbook Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Casino Royale (2006) Steelbook Blu-ray Review

Once the producers of the James Bond films acquired the rights to Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel Casino Royale (which had already been made into an uneventful live 1954 TV drama and a silly spy feature film spoof in 1967), it was clear that the Bond origin story would require a new Bond, so Pierce Brosnan (whose four Bond films had been increasingly profitable even as they had become progressively outrageous) was out and a new Bond, Daniel Craig, was selected. Casino Royale does indeed return Bond to his gritty roots, learning his trade as a licensed-to-kill operative in the field with huge sums of money and multiple lives at stake. This reissue of the last Blu-ray release of the 2006 movie is identical to the previous release apart from the new steelbook packaging and an included digital copy of the film.



Studio: MGM

Distributed By: Fox

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 2 Hr. 24 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraViolet

steelbook casing

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 09/15/2015

MSRP: $12.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

Upon trailing international terrorist Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan), newly minted 00-agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) takes matters into his own hands as he traces the money used for these operations to the mysterious Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) and then to the man they all answer to, terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), the man who has personally bankrolled some of the most prevalent terrorist organizations around the globe. In capturing Mollaka and Dimitrios, Bond has already cost Le Chiffre $101 million, so when the criminal enters a high stakes poker game in Montenegro to replenish his coffers, Bond enters as well in order to wipe him out for good though M (Judi Dench) has the foresight to let accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) control the purse strings on the good possibility that the arrogant new secret agent may not have self-control enough to keep from wiping out Britain’s entire financial economic structure in his risky scheme.

 

If the film has any weaknesses at all, it’s that the Neal Purvis-Robert Wade-Paul Haggis screenplay piles one climax after another onto the film stretching its length to an uncomfortable almost 2 ½ hours. One would think going in that the extended poker game smack in the middle of the movie (which takes place basically in three beautifully sustained, tension-filled acts; masterful direction by Martin Campbell who had made GoldenEye such a striking debut for Pierce Brosnan) would be the film’s climax, but when it’s finished, the film still has a half hour more to go. There are no individual scenes that are actually unnecessary, and there are certainly four action set pieces that can stand tall with anything that had come before in the series (including the thrilling parkour-fueled chase after the credits, a chase and fight aboard a set-to-explode tanker, an incredible Aston Martin crash that takes one’s breath away, and a climactic Venice-set sinking building). We’re given the measure of Daniel Craig’s Bond immediately in a stylish black-and-white pre-credit sequence where the poker-faced Bond earns his 00 moniker by achieving the required two kills, but his still waters certainly do run deep here as Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd and basically gives up everything for her. For a character who very seldom over his screen lifetime had ever been bested, Bond gets played both personally and professionally during the movie, making his introduction to the espionage game a rocky one indeed. This is a Bond with very deep flaws.

 

Daniel Craig is such a fine actor that Bond’s topsy-turvy first case tests his physical and emotional well-being to its very core, and Craig doesn’t miss a beat: pugnacious when facing enemies large and small, withstanding nakedly one of the most graphic torture scenes in any Bond movie, and giving his heart freely and having it ripped to shreds before our eyes. Eva Green makes her Vesper Lynd a Bond girl who doesn’t immediately jump into bed with the hero. Bond must earn her trust and respect, and their few moments of happiness are lovely (if something we’re suspicious will continue; the screenwriters pull a great con job on the audience with this character). Mads Mikkelsen’s quiet suavity is perfect for the creepy Le Chiffre aiding greatly in his believability as an expert poker player. Judi Dench has great fun with M, exasperated with Bond’s arrogance and cheek and yet almost motherly to him in odd moments, a relationship that will grow over her next films in the series. Jeffrey Wright is an okay Felix Leiter while Giancarlo Giannini as the enigmatic Mathis keeps one guessing throughout whose side he’s on.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

The transfer is framed at its theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. It was a reference quality transfer when first unveiled, and time has not damaged its intrinsic quality. Sharpness is startling, and color values are rich and rewarding with skin tones which are accurate and most appealing. Contrast has been superbly applied to make for such a brilliant image with black levels which are deep and impressive and shadow detail a giant leap over previous Bond Blu-ray releases. The movie has been divided into 16 chapters.



Audio Rating: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers a full range of sound effects with panning across and through the soundstage, explosions and crashes of real substance, and dialogue that is wonderfully recorded and has been placed in the center channel. David Arnold’s background score also gets the full surround treatment and sounds excellent.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

Audio Commentary: producer Barbara Broccoli introduces the commentary track and then turns it over to many members of the technical team whose comments have been edited to correspond to the moments in the film that are being discussed.

 

Deleted Scenes (7:32, HD): four scenes can be viewed separately or in montage.

 

The Road to Casino Royale (26:35, SD): a documentary detailing the circuitous route of Ian Fleming’s book coming to the screen first as a TV movie, then as the Charles K. Feldman 1967 movie spoof, and finally as the movie to introduce Daniel Craig as James Bond.

 

Ian Fleming: The Incredible Creation (21:16, SD): offers another video biography of creator Ian Fleming especially the part of his life that was responsible for producing his first novel Casino Royale.

 

James Bond in the Bahamas (24:17, SD): details the many Bond films that have filmed in some part of the Bahamas with residents of the area recalling the various productions and their involvement with them. There is also background on the use of the area for various locations in Casino Royale.

 

Ian Fleming: Secret Road to Paradise (24:29, SD): a rather sour history of the build-up of Paradise Island among family and friends of original owner Huntington Hartford and its influence on Ian Fleming both positively and negatively.

 

Death in Venice (23:20, SD): features interviews with Daniel Craig and Eva Green as they prepare for the location work in both Venice and Pinewood for filming the climactic Venice house collapse. There is also great behind-the-scenes looks at how the destruction of the house was accomplished with models and real sets.

 

Becoming Bond (26:18, SD): a discussion of the search for a new Bond featuring producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, director Martin Campbell, star Daniel Craig, and screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade who basically tell the plot of the film.

 

James Bond For Real (23:34, SD): a summary of the four major stunt sequences in the movie. Among those commenting on them are Daniel Craig and Eva Green, director Martin Campbell, visual effects supervisor Chris Corbould, and stunt coordinator Gary Powell.

 

Chris Cornell Music Video (4:09, SD): the music video for the film’s theme “You Know My Name.”

 

Steelbook Casing/Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

A smashing introduction to Daniel Craig as 007, Casino Royale rebooted the Bond franchise in the best way possible by minimizing the gimmicks and maximizing the locations, adventure, and thrills. Highly recommended! The steelbook version is presently an exclusive at Best Buy, but Amazon has a sale page up on site, and marketplace sellers are also present (though asking ridiculous sums for it).


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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