Wednesday, May 9, 2007

CASINO ROYALE

The twenty-first official James Bond film, CASINO ROYALE (2006), introduces Daniel Craig (LAYER CAKE) as a neophyte 007 on his first mission as a double-O agent. Based on 007 creator Ian Fleming's first novel, it's a fairly faithful – if updated and action-enhanced – adaptation, and I give the filmmakers credit for that. It’s a half-hour too long and I have a few quibbles with the script, but overall, it’s one of the best in the series. Fast, brutal, and surprisingly dark.

The DVD transfer is – as one might expect from a brand-new movie – beautiful to behold: a razor-sharp 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation to die for. The sound mix – even on my antiquated system – was perfectly balanced and robust. Nothing to complain about there.

The bonus features are a disgrace though, and absolutely scream that Sony intends to double-, triple- and re-dip this film over and over again forever. All you get two extremely light, superficial EPK*-styled featurettes, a music video (that relies heavily on film clips) and the BOND GIRLS ARE FOREVER documentary from several years ago, which has been updated slightly with a couple minutes of new footage featuring the CASINO ROYALE gals. There's also a slew of unrelated Sony trailers – but no trailers, TV spots or poster/photo galleries for CASINO ROYALE itself. There's no director's commentary, no on-screen trivia tracks, no Daniel Craig screen tests – really nothing much of any note or extra value.

Compared to every other DVD presentation of a Bond film (with the understandable exception of MGM's bare bone NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN disc), this 2-disc edition is a major disappointment. Even the DVD of 1967's farcical version of CASINO ROYALE with Woody Allen and David Niven had better extras!

Sure, if they hadn't sent it to me, I would have bought it anyway, because I'm an incurable Bondophile. But I do strongly resent the blatantness of Sony's cynical marketing, and I recommend sticking with an overnight rental for pretty much anyone else.

Unless, of course, you're as nutty as I am about Her Majesty's Secret Servant... in which case you're going to buy it anyway. And I can't blame you for that!

*Electronic Press Kit, for the uninitiated.

BUY: Casino Royale (2-Disc Widescreen Edition)