Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bond, James Bond and Casino Royale

from w.
We saw the movie Casino Royale from 6.30 p.m. last night as our house was too hot and we knew the movie theatres have air-conditioning. We took apricots and spring rolls for sustenance. Well, the movie was as expected - too violent for me - and didn't have the humour and silly one-liners of earlier Bond films. But it was still an excellent film with fantastic locations especially Venice in the final scenes. The opening sequence, violent of course, preceded an interesting titles section with cards and someone must have had a lot of fun making images on their computers! The card scenes - well-done but hey, I don't know how to play poker so it was a bit of a mystery about who was winning or losing!

Here are comments by two other writers:
Royale without Cheese!
Submitted by Michelle Alexandria on November 19, 2006 - 3:48am

I was originally skeptical about the selection of the blond haired, blue-eyed Daniel Craig as our next James Bond. From the moment Casino Royale opens with its gritty black and white, pre-credit sequence you know you are in for something different and you get sold quickly on Craig's take on Bond. It's dark, gritty, brooding, and at times surrealistic…

In a nutshell, Bond is trying to figure out who is funding several major terrorist groups. At the same time he finds himself at constant odds with M (Judi Dench). For the first time Dench actually gets to do some acting in a Bond film, in previous films they would trot her out to utter a witticism and then disappear for the rest of the movie. In Casino Royale she's a vital part of the story, but it's in the cliched boss trying to reign in her out of control detective kind of way. Somehow it works here and feels appropriate.

Director Martin Campbell's (best known for the Antonio Banderas Zorro films) minimalist approach keeps the film zipping along, at almost 2 1/2 hours the film never drags. Even the "climatic" poker sequences were engrossing. And I'm one of those people who doesn't understand poker or get its popularity, but Campbell made me care, got me interested in what was going on.

If you want your trademark Bond gadgets, cars, and gear, Royale will disappoint as this Bond drives a rented Ford (I think it was a Focus), that is until he gets back into M's good graces, then he's given the sporty Aston Martin. But even that car lacks ge-whiz gadgets; unless you consider a tray that holds a first aide kit and a gun cool.

The fun thing about Royale is that it really is an "establishing" movie. Craig doesn't come right out and say he's Bond, James Bond, or order the trademark Dry Martini, or Walk around in tailored Tuxes. As the plot progresses, we start to understand that Bond is a young agent who has just been given the 00 status. He's still not used to killing and hasn't quite picked out his drink of choice. One of the only gags in the film has Bond asking for a Long Island Iced Tea at a Casino.
Bond's romantic interest is Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) a by the book government accountant who is providing the money for Bond's high-stakes poker tournament. The chemistry between Green and Craig doesn't sizzle, it's just there. But the writing is what makes it work. There's a cute moment where he calls her Money Penny, and at the end of the film you get a sense of how important that name becomes to Bond in future adventures.

As if we didn't already know that the main goal of Casino Royale is to rebuild Bond and re-establish his character the film's amazing last scene had everyone in the audience clapping and cheering - at the same time the movie, just ends, with nothing really resolved, leaving you wanting more and waiting breathlessly for the next installment.

Casino Royale is one of the best films of the year, well worth checking out.
Final Grade A+
by Michelle Alexandria

Casino Royale

For once, there is truth in advertising: The credits proclaim Daniel Craig as "Ian Fleming's James Bond 007," and Craig comes closer to the author's original conception of this exceptionally long-lived male fantasy figure than anyone since early Sean Connery. "Casino Royale" sees Bond recharged with fresh toughness and arrogance, along with balancing hints of sadism and humanity, just as the fabled series is reinvigorated by going back to basics…..

Bond made his debut in "Casino Royale" when it was published in 1953, and while the novel was adapted the following year for American television (Barry Nelson played Bond) and in 1967 became a lame all-star spy send-up featuring Peter Sellers, David Niven and Woody Allen, it remained unavailable to the Eon producers until now.
As refashioned for this 21st series installment, the novel's focus on a high-stakes cards showdown doesn't kick in for an hour. But Craig's taking over as the sixth actor to officially portray the secret agent on the bigscreen (not including that first "Casino") provides a plausible opportunity to examine the character's promotion to double-0 status, which is neatly done in a brutal black-and-white prologue in which he notches his first two kills.

After the pic bleeds into color, Bond pursues a would-be suicide bomber in a madly acrobatic chase through an African construction site, at the end of which he happens to be filmed killing an apparently, if not in fact, unarmed man in images instantly disseminated on the Internet, to the enormous embarrassment of MI6. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Bond….

Even by this early juncture, the pic has emphatically announced its own personality. It's comparatively low-tech, with the intense fights mostly conducted up close and personally, the killings accomplished by hand or gun, and without an invisible car in evidence; Bond is more of a lone wolf, Craig's upper-body hunkiness and mildly squashed facial features giving him the air of a boxer; 007's got a frequently remarked upon ego, which can cause him to recklessly overreach and botch things, and the limited witticisms function naturally within the characters' interchanges…..
Script by series vets Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, along with Paul Haggis, hangs together reasonably well and is rewarded for its unaccustomed preoccupation with character by the attentiveness to same by director Martin Campbell, back after having helmed the first Brosnan entry, "GoldenEye," 11 years ago. Dialogue requires Bond to acknowledge his mistakes and reflect on the soul-killing nature of his job, self-searching unimaginable in the more fanciful Bond universes inhabited by Brosnan and Roger Moore….


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