The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 144 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Judi Dench
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Music by: David Arnold
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 21, 2008
"Always bet on Bond…."
CASINO ROYALE introduces JAMES BOND before he holds his license to kill. Bond is no less dangerous, and with two professional assassinations in quick succession, he is elevated to "00" status. "M" (Judi Dench), head of the British Secret Service, sends the newly-promoted 007 on his first mission that takes him to Madagascar, the Bahamas and eventually leads him to Montenegro to face Le Chiffre, a ruthless financier under threat from his terrorist clientele, who is attempting to restore his funds in a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale. "M" places Bond under the watchful eye of the Treasury official Vesper Lynd. At first skeptical of what value Vesper can provide, Bond's interest in her deepens as they brave danger together. Le Chiffre's cunning and cruelty come to bear on them both in a way Bond could never imagine, and he learns his most important lesson: Trust no one.
The James Bond franchise is the longest running film series to my knowledge. I am amazed at how each installment never seems to lose its fresh appeal. Casino Royale is special for two reasons. The first is that it is technically the first James Bond story and second because it introduces us to the newest and sixth actor to play Bond, Daniel Craig. I have to admit that when I heard that he was the new Bond I was pretty skeptical. I had seen him in several films, including Layer Cake and Tomb Raider, and wasn’t sure he had the chops to pull Bond off. After seeing Casino Royale my skepticism was assuaged. The character has a much different feel that is highlighted by more of a reckless arrogance and darker persona than we have seen from any previous Bond. Personally I find it invigorating. Director Martin Campbell returns (he directed Pierce Brosnan’s Bond debut in Goldeneye) with action that is quick paced, in your face, and physically more challenging than any other Bond film to date. The film’s opening (after the black and white segment) represents the most intricately staged foot chase sequence I have ever seen. Each time I see it I am amazed at the incredible dexterity displayed by Sebastien Foucan, as Mollaka the bomb maker, the man Bond is pursuing on foot. The story is well paced, and features a satisfyingly sophisticated plot that seems apropos to the “new” Bond. Like many of the Bond films I find replay value on Casino Royale to be high and enjoy re-visiting it from time to time.
The rating is for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Casino Royale Collector’s Edition comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.3 mbps.
This is the same video encoding that was included in last year’s Blu-ray release. Images are sternly detailed with deep rock solid blacks and dynamic contrast that enhances the story’s elements. Colors are exaggerated in appearance but not to the point of distraction. Flesh tones are nicely delineated with fairer complexions and less so with darker ones but overall reproduction is realistic in depiction. Resolution is excellent as images have a visually satisfying and definitive three dimensional quality regardless of perspective. Sharpness is rarely called into question and any subtle variations appear innate to the photography rather related to the encoding. I saw no signs of video related anomalies or artifacting.
Casino Royale received a lossless Dolby TrueHD audio encoding for this Collectors’ Edition release versus the uncompressed PCM audio included on the original. Comparing the two I noticed the TrueHD soundtrack seemed as though it had been mixed a bit hotter. The same sequences watched via the PCM track were noticeably lower at the same volume setting. Matching the levels I didn’t find an appreciable difference in dynamics, clarity or low frequency detail. The same attributes existed in both. This came in the form of high level detail, defining clarity, and rich, room filling surround sound that didn’t disappoint. This is sophisticated sound design that incorporates a vast number of sound effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Bass is substantive and can sometimes be vigorous in depth but never rises inappropriately in prominence within the soundfield. The delicate blend of music, discrete/ambient sounds, dialogue and bass is supremely enriching as it weaves an aurally stimulating pattern across the entire surround platform.
This collector’s edition release sports a host of new bonus supplements dedicated to Bond and Casino Royale. There are several Blu-ray Disc exclusives including a multiplayer/multilevel Bond trivia quiz and Bonusview PiP commentary. There are 5 featurettes that explore the Casino Royale story and background as well as the locations where it was filmed. Included are cast and crew interviews as well as production footage. The original making of and stunt features from the original release are present and accounted for as is the 2006 Bond girls documentary. Those with BD-Live access can view four short features on the upcoming Quantum of solace Bond film as well as download other blu-ray disc content. 4 Deleted scenes and 3 BD previews round out a rather comprehensive feature package. All of which are offered in high definition unless otherwise indicated.
- Bonus view PiP commentary with Director Martin Campbell and Producer Michael G. Wilson
- Crew commentary
- Know your Double O – The ultimate James Bond Quiz
- BD Previews – 21, Hancock, Vantage Point
- 4 Deleted scenes
- The road to Casino Royale - Featurette
- Ian Fleming’s incredible creation - Featurette
- James Bond in the Bahamas - Featurette
- Ian Fleming: The secret road to paradise - Featurette
- Death in Venice - Featurette
- (SD) Bond girls are forever – 2006 Documentary
- The art of the Freerun - Documentary
- Catching a plane: From storyboard to screen
- Storyboard sequence: Freerun chase
- Filmmakers profiles
- (SD) Chris Cornell music video
- Start of shooting for Quantum of Solace
- Meet the new Bond Girl – Olga Kurylenko
- Hear from Quantum of Solace Director Mark Forster on the challenges of taking on a bond film
Final Thoughts:This new release of Casino Royale features excellent audio/video quality that is easily demonstration material worthy. Technically it brings nothing appreciably new to the table over the 2007 Blu-ray Disc release. What it does offer is a plethora of bonus supplements and Blu-ray Disc exclusive content that should keep fans happy for hours. If you own the previous release whether or not to double dip will be dependent on how important bonus features are to you. If you don’t already own this excellent 007 flick then there is no better way to experience it than this. Highly recommended.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS1x 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BD55K Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Marantz DV7001 Universal Disc Player
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 seven Channel amplifier
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package