DVD Review: Casino Royale (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
Release Date: March 13, 2007
Distributor: Sony Pictures
· Martin Campbell
· Daniel Craig
· Eva Green
· Judi Dench
· Mads Mikkelsen
· IMDb: Casino Royale (2006)
by R.J. Carter
Published: March 5, 2007
Bond is back, for the very first time. Daniel Craig steps into the impeccably polished role of James Bond in Martin Campbell's vastly improved version of "Casino Royale", which goes from zero to sixty in .007 seconds. Taking Bond back to his earliest days as a double-0 -- a status awarded after two kills in the line of duty -- "Casino Royale" is a post-911 reboot that's all action mixed with action and topped off with action.
While not averse to delivering the wry double-entendre, Craig's Bond is a deeper, more serious creature, capable of the most egregious of conscious violations of protocol, even insofar as locating and breaking into M's private residence and personal computer. Naturally, his ingenuity and resourcefulness in this arena do not endear him to the head of MI6, played "M"-peccably by Oscar nominee Judi Dench.
The chief visible villain in this adventure is Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a math genius who weeps blood. He serves as a banker for international terrorists, but he's using their money to invest in the stock market and turn himself a greater profit. When Bond interferes with his plan to blow up the inaugural launch of the SkyFleet prototype (which would earn Le Chiffre a sizable return on his put options), Le Chiffre must turn to his other talent to recoup the losses of his clients: high stakes poker. This, it turns out, is another of Bond's specialties, as he fancies himself an expert at reading and playing people.
The only person he seems to have trouble reading, however, is Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), the liaison from the Ministry of Finance, who are financing Bond's buy-in to the big game. "I'm the money," she says, as she introduces herself to Bond, to which he admiringly replies, "Every penny of it." Vesper intrigues Bond when she's as capable of discerning his personality as he is hers. And the fact that she disdains him makes her all the more attractive, even if she isn't his type: married. But what Bond woman has ever been able to resist James Bond in the end? Even Pussy Galore succumbed to him -- and in the books, she was originally a lesbian whom James turned! Of course, we know things can't work out for them in the end, as the relationship turns into another formative moment for making Bond the misogynist he ultimately becomes.
"Casino Royale" definitely pushes the boundary of its PG-13 rating, but Bond fans should enjoy the overall effect of making the franchise slightly less campy. Technically, this DVD release seems to have an audio quality problem as the volume drops appreciably in several places -- not between scene cuts, but actually in mid-dialogue. The audio for the main feature can be set to either English, French or Spanish, with subtitling available for each.
The bonus features for this two-disc set are all on the second disc, and begin with a twenty-six minute featurette, "Becoming Bond". Here we see some stills from the original television play of "Casino Royale" which ultimately tied up the rights to the film, keeping it out of the Broccoli family's production attempts for years. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson give us the inside scoop on the lawsuits and opportunities. Director Martin Campbell talks up the search for a younger Bond, necessitated by the film being set so early in the super-spy's career, and Daniel Craig is interviewed about his training for the role and his reactions to the anti-Craig mania that broke out on several Bond websites. Judi Dench and Eva Green also put in appearances.
M-asculated. M reads Bond the riot act when his antics draw
unwanted media attention.
(L-R: Judi Dench, Daniel Craig)
If you're a special effects fanatic, you'll be interested in the twenty-three minute documentary, "James Bond: For Real". In this segment, we get interviews with the cast and crew, focusing on the stunts from the film, starting with the footchase scene which involved Daniel Craig performances as much as possible. You'll also see how cars get blown into the air by a passing jetliner, and what it takes to sink a building in Venice.
But James Bond is nothing were it not for the women in his life, and the "Bond Girls are Forever" three-parter catches up with all of them. Hosted by Maryam d'Abo, we spend the better part of an hour as she interviews Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman, Luciana Paluzzi, Jill St. John, Maud Adams, Jane Seymour, Lois Chiles, Carey Lowell, Halle_Berry, and Michelle Yeoh about their experiences filming, perspectives on the initial sexuality and later backlash against it in the 80s, and the girls becoming more in charge with the advent of the Pierce Brosnan films. The series includes interviews with Bond girls who -- for obvious reasons -- didn't form romantic relationships: Judi Dench's M and Samantha_Bond's Moneypenny, before wrapping with the latest Bond girls of "Casino Royale", Eva Green and Caterina Murino.
Winding up the special features is a four-minute music video, "You Know My Name", performed by Chris Cornell, with the singer in suspenseful espionage scenes interspersed with clips from "Casino Royale". All the special features can be subtitled in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
A Very Good Evening. Bond meets his intellectual match in
Ministry of Finance liaison, Vesper Lynd.
(L-R: Daniel Craig, Eva Green)
Previews on this disc include "Spider-Man 3", "The Pursuit of Happyness", and "The Holiday". Additional selectable previews include "Premonition", "Rocky Balboa", and "Spider-Man 2.1", to be found on disc two.