Tuesday, December 09, 2008

REVIEW: Casino


Year: 1995
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Frank Vincent
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

To tell you the truth, I really haven't been paying too much attention to director Martin Scorsese. Its not that I hate him or anything, its just I haven't come across his films as often as some other films. I have honestly only seen two films from him which were The Aviator and The Departed. Yes, I'm ashamed to say I didn't see the popular mob flick Goodfellas or the Oscar winning performance of De Niro in Raging Bull. The reason why I decided to take the plunge on Casino was because it was showing on TV today and I frankly didn't have much to do. Also because its been something that was on the back of my mind when the recent Blu Ray version of the film hit streets.

Plot Outline:
Sam "Ace" Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is a fantastic bookie who is chosen to run the Tangiers hotel and casino. Along the way, he marries a drug-addicted con-artist trophy wife named Ginger (Sharon Stone) and struggles with his friendship with loose-cannon Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) who is sent by the mob to keep Ace out of trouble. Rothstein is a complicated figure that wields a lot of power due to the respect he has gained from his mob bosses back home.

The story is based on the book "Casino" by Nicholas Pileggi and Larry Shandling. Having not read the book, I'm not sure how much of the film is ripped from the book and how much is different. The film's story is actually really interesting and really entertaining. My eyes were literally glued to the TV screen after every scene. I just couldn't move away from this fascinating story as it kept growing. I'm not sure if it was just the witty dialogue or the serious tone of the film, but I just couldn't look away. The characters are all different in many ways and yet very believable. I was also impressed with the films setting. Judging by the films title, it was pretty obvious where the film would take place, but I really enjoyed the Las Vegas setting. I thought it fit very well with the films story and it was just an interesting location to look at. The film is also nicely directed by Oscar winner, Martin Scorsese. Scorsese really brings this film to life with the direction he went. If their is one thing that I really didn't enjoy in this film, its the documentary type voice over. The film has alot of these where a certain character of the film talks over on what hes doing in the scene. This isn't a big problem for me, but it does make the audience alittle irritated when they keep doing this in later scenes too.

Robert De Niro plays as the main character of the film, Sam "Ace" Rothstein. He gives a great performance that is very enjoyable and very effective. His work is believable and really interesting to watch. I cant say anyone else would have played this part as good as De Niro. Sharon Stone plays as the crack head, money loving Ginger McKenna. She gives an Oscar worthy performance that I thought worked very well. She was very much in character and gave some serious effort. Its a shame she didn't win that Oscar because she really deserved it. Joe Pesci plays as Ace's psychotic friend, Nicky Santoro. Pesci is also another one that gives a great performance. His character "Nicky" is very smart and short tempered. Hes the type of person that doesn't give a shit if your a minute late or off by just alittle, he will still kill you if you don't do what he tells you to do. Pesci really brought this character to life and I really really enjoyed him in this film. We also have James Woods playing as Lester Diamond. He too gives a good performance that's enjoyable. I have been a fan of Woods for some time now and it was nice to see him playing this funny character.

The visual look of Casino is surprisingly great. I saw this film on the AMC channel which is famous for old films and also famous for making films that aren't too old look old. Casino on that channel looked great for a film of its age. The films source is an excellent condition and I wasn't able to detect any film grain. Colors are very vibrant and really makes the film shine. Las Vegas has never looked this deep and colorful. Every little thing is nicely colored and has that lush look to it that makes it very pretty. Flesh tones are spot on perfect and hold up very well even in some of the darker scenes. Detail is very strong for a film that's now 13 years old. Close up shots show some good clarity and rich detail on peoples faces. From the type of clothing to the shiny bright lights of Vegas, Casino never fails to look anything other than spectacular.

The soundtrack for the film is also a winner. The film features many music here and their that all sound just wonderful. Even though the film is pretty heavily dialogue driven, it still manages to gives us some awesome music to go with whats on screen. The film also never stops having music in the background which is a good thing for me since I don't mind more music as long as it sounds good and goes with the scene. For a film like this with alot of talking and heavy dialogue, you wouldn't expect much from the films bass, but you would be surprised. Casino actually has a good amount of bass that I thought sounded good. Sure it isn't pure reference like Transformers or any other live action film, but it still is good for a film of its nature. Dynamics are alright, but the film is mostly front heavy since theirs alot of dialogue.

Casino is a fascinating film and one that gets better with each viewing. I wasn't expecting this film to be this good, but it really is. I haven't been sucked into a films story this much in a long time. I think I enjoyed it alittle more than Scorsese's latest flick, The Departed. The story is intriguing and petty engaging. The characters are all interesting and fun to watch. The cast is great with almost everyone giving out great performances. The visual look of the film is surprisingly great even if its on the AMC channel. For a now 13 year old film, Casino looks pretty damn impressive. The films soundtrack is also very good with alot of music that goes so well with whats going on. I can recommend this film to those looking for a great movie or if your a big Scorsese fan.

Grade: B


micky said...

ome of the most underrated films in my opinion. nice review

Fletch said...

I'm with Micky. I'm of the few blasphemers that declare Casino superior to GoodFellas, and get this - I thought it was boring on first viewing.

Might be a trend...while I wasn't bored with The Departed on first viewing, it gets better with every additional one. I love it now.

My only major disappointment? That you watched this on AMC...edited...with commercials. Uggggghhhh. You have GOT TO watch the full version - it's probably a hell of a lot different (especially Pesci's dialog).

Farzan said...

I will do so Fletch. I can already imagine how insane Pesci is going to sound since hes not going to be censored.