ninth symphony films - movie reviews

Casino Royale (2006)


DIRECTOR  -  martin campbell

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  espionage

LENGTH  -  144 minutes

RELEASED  -  17 november 2006

DISTRIBUTOR  -  mgm

OFFICIAL SITE  -  james bond

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $150,000,000
casino royale - a shot from the film

BUY THE CD:

buy the cd from casino royale at amazon.com

buy the cd from casino royale at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
james bond's first mission, where he must stop a banker from winning a casino tournament and using the prize money to fund terrorist activities.




MOVIE FACT:
in one afternoon's shooting, three aston martin dbs cars valued at $300,000 each were destroyed for the car roll sequence.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from casino royale

picture from casino royale

picture from casino royale

picture from casino royale



RATING:


three out of four possible stars

Not to be confused with the similarly titled 1960's spy spoof, 2006's Casino Royale is nothing if not a serious jaunt into James Bond's suave world of snazzy pick-up lines and ridiculously impossible stunts. With an emphasis on showing the audience the beginning of Bond's career as a "double-oh" agent, the franchise digs a bit deeper into the character's psyche than one would expect of a Hollywood blockbuster. And with Daniel Craig filling the role for the first time, the newest actor to portray James Bond does a bang-up job chasing down evil types and preventing them from taking over the world (because don't they always want to take over the world?).

In one of the most financially successful series in feature film history, each actor to play the Bond role has brought a different portrayal and personality to the character. And while some performances have been debated on their worthiness regarding casting decisions and others have been virtually canonized in the role, is it appropriate any longer to offer the frequently uttered sentence, "well, he's no Sean Connery?" In point of fact, if one were to go through the list of Bond performers and compare them to Sean The Original, Daniel Craig just might come out on top of that list.

Bringing to the role equal parts menace and cool, Craig breathes new life into a franchise which, under former Bond performer Pearce Brosnan, had begun to suffer under the curse of, "haven't we done this a few times already?" With an emphasis on quick pacing and panoramic vistas, the filmmakers give Craig a fresh tilt on Bond's world, bringing the franchise ever closer to the "MTV" generation. But like its predecessors, Casino Royal doesn't go so far from its origins that creator Ian Fleming's mark is totally obliterated.

There are still the ridiculous stunts, the hilariously named women, the cool gadgets, and the awesome (AWESOME!) cars. The filmmakers have taken the best parts of the Bond series and have packaged them extremely well into a feature film for today's audiences. There is but one instance where the ridiculous-quotient goes into overdrive, but rather than spoil that... interesting scene, I'll leave that to the viewer to determine the scene's believability. Let's just say it involves James Bond and a defibrillator. Just Himself. And a defibrillator.

Another mild flaw in the film would be its length. Despite making his fans wait a few years between each installment, James Bond doesn't need to trot across the screen for two and a half hours at a time. With the intensely paced beginning of the film, some of the tense energy of the first half-hour is lost in the later reels where portions of plot could have easily been dumped on the cutting room floor. After all, Bond's fans don't really care if his adventures make sense. It's the gadgets, stunts, and women that are more important.

The final difficulty audience members might have in viewing the film would be the dialogue concerning the poker play that fills a good portion of the film. Although the basics of the game can be explained in a few short sentences, the screenwriters (or perhaps the producers) felt it necessary to have one of the characters utter stupid lines like, "if Bond loses this hand, he loses everything!" Whenever something major was about to happen concerning the game, a character was chosen to pipe up and deliver verbally whatever the filmmakers thought the audience wouldn't be able to figure out from the [obvious] visuals. This is just another case of the filmmakers being unable to trust their audience's intelligence.

Despite lapses in judgment regarding dialogue, an element of the film that requires no criticism is the casting. As mentioned above, Daniel Craig's portrayal of the agent is spot on and old and new fans alike should find themselves drawn to the character and his fate (even though just a bit more wry enthusiasm could have benefited the performance). In the most major of the female lead roles, Eva Green, playing the awesomely named, "Vesper Lynd," spars well with her co-stars and has an appreciable chemistry with Craig's Bond.

Reprising her role as "M" Judi Dench is a welcome return to the franchise, making it easy to wish she was on the screen longer. Mads Mikkelsen, who is blessed with more screen time than Dench as the main villain of the film, "Le Chiffre," a banker for international terrorists, is suitably and deliciously evil. Model Ivana Milicevic has what amounts to a throw-away role as a nameless evil henchwoman and actor Jeffrey Wright has a solid, if standard role as another poker player in the high-stakes game featured in the film. There are about a dozen additional (usually beautiful) actors that prance across the film and, with the exception of Milicevic's performance, each actor seems deftly chosen for his or her character.

Ignoring the moments of insipid dialogue and the lack of discipline regarding the length of the film, Casino Royale is a more than solid entry into the franchise and should please both ardent and casual fans of the series. Craig's performance brings a needed visual change to Bond's persona and he has the capability to extend his hold on the character for a good couple films in the next few years. As a well-crafted adventure with only a few bothersome, minor flaws, this film is definitely an experience for a movie theater (though viewers blessed with a seventy-inch flat screen at home might just do fine with a DVD).

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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