Saturday, December 22, 2007

REVIEW: Casino Royale

Casino Royale

Year: 2006
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

When I heard that MGM was going for a new actor to play 007 instead of Pierce Brosnan, I was alittle worried and angry because I don't like it when actors get re-casted, but what made me more angry was that Daniel Craig got chosen to don the famous tux. Out of all actors, Julian McMahon, Clive Owen and etc. we get Daniel Craig. I can tell you right now that nobody was thinking Craig would be an ideal person to play James Bond. I thought to myself how could they screw up one of the most well known franchises in history by casting a blond actor as Bond. Luckily, I was proven wrong and Casino Royale ended up surprising alot of people including me.

Plot Outline:
After receiving license to kill from the MI-6, the secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) follows his leads and avoids the destruction of the greatest airplane in the world in Miami plotted by the evil banker Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to crash the bonds in the stock market and break the air flight company. The banker loses the funds of international terrorist organizations and organizes a poker game in Casino Royale, in Montenegro, to raise the money of the investors. James Bond travels with the British accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to bet and defeat La Chiffre and force him to look for protection with the MI-6, disclosing the names of the terrorists.

Casino Royale marks the reboot of a major franchise and I'm happy to say it doesn't disappoint in terms of its story. The film has an interesting plot that not only gives us an idea of what Bond was like back in the early days, but also giving us a Bond with emotions. A Bond that feels pain and isn't afraid of kicking some ass. The Bourne films from Universal have been giving our MI6 spy some serious competition so its no surprise that MGM went with a more gritty, action oriented Bond kind of like Jason Bourne. This works out fine because it gives us a more believable Bond that we haven't seen before. The film also gives us a villain that doesn't seem so far fetched and actually has an evil plan that isn't over the top. Since the film is a reboot, we don't get any appearances by Q or Miss Moneypenny. This isn't something that's going to kill this film, but long time fans of Bond are going to miss this because its going to feel weird watching this film without having two of the most well known characters in the franchise's history. The only thing I didn't really like about in the film, was its ending. It isn't a bad ending, but it does kind of leave you in a cliff hanger. That and the occasional Sony advertising scattered through out the film that are so obvious to tell are my only grips about the film. Other than that, this is an entertaining film.

Daniel Craig replaces Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the film. I had serious doubts about Craig when it was first announced that he would be the new Bond. I thought he didn't look right for the part and was no where near what Fleming described Bond to be. So I was really surprised when I saw the final film because Craig actually didn't disappoint. While I still think Connery is the best Bond with Brosnan coming a close second, Craig surely did a good job. Eva Green plays as Bond's main romance, Vesper Lynd. She does a great job in her role and makes for a fine Bond girl. The only thing that bothers me about her casting is that she seems way too young when standing near Craig. It makes Craig look so old compared to her. Mads Mikkelsen plays as the main villain of the film, Le Chiffre. He too does a great job in his role and one that I found to be very enjoyable. Hes a good choice to play this character opposite Craig and I think he did a great job doing it. We also have Judi Dench returning as M. I simply don't understand why shes in this film considering its a reboot to the franchise, but she still gives a solid performances as M.

The visual look of the film is simply great. The film was recently released and shot in mostly HD cameras. The result is an often clean image that doesn't contain much film grain. Colors are very vibrant and natural. Their are a couple of scenes early in the film where we have Bond at a beach and the colors simply leap off the screen. Black levels are also really strong and hold up very well in some of the darker scenes. Flesh tones are accurate and hold up well in almost every shot. Detail is also strong for a Bond film. Close up shots show alot of detail and clarity that really is something worth watching. You can literally see wrinkles on Craig's face.

The theme song is performed by Chris Cornell and in my opinion, the biggest flaw in the movie. The Bond series have all had great theme songs performed by various performers and they were all great with a few that didn't stack up compared to some of the others. Casino Royale's theme song is one of them. The song, although really good and fun to listen to just isn't the right one for a Bond film. It just doesn't feel like a Bond song and doesn't feature any naked ladies dancing in the intro. While I didn't like the theme song for the film, the bass is without a doubt very strong. The film has many scenes where Bond is doing something great and the bass follows through. Every punch is heard loud and hard. Their is an airport scene during the middle half of the film that simply rocks with aggression in the sound department. This is definitely something to keep in terms of demo material for your home theater.

Casino Royale is a great film that's also a pretty good reboot to one of the most popular series in history. In all honesty, Casino Royale feels like a great action movie rather than a James Bond film. The films got a great story that's very interesting to watch, but also very entertaining. The cast is great with almost everyone giving out good performances. The visual look of the film is really good with vibrant colors and strong detail. The soundtrack is a mixed bag because I didn't like the theme song, but I found the bass to be superb. I can recommend this film to the loyal Bond fans out their and to those looking for a good action film. This is a great start for the new reboot, I just hope they can keep up the momentum.

Grade: B

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