Casino Royale Review
We already have three excellent reviews on the latest Bond outing here at DVDTimes, of which I broadly agree with them all so to expedite this long overdue review I’m going to skip the film part and simply point you in the direction of Kevin’s theatrical review, Eamonn’s DVD review and Michael’s Blu-ray Disc review. For anyone interested, as someone who’s never particularly enjoyed the Bond formula prior to Casino Royale, the review which most fits my own take on the film is Michael’s.
First a note on the cuts present on this UK Blu-ray Disc release. As has been widely discussed online, the torture sequence on this 12 rated UK release has lost a single shot and line of dialogue. The film is otherwise intact, and though I can’t say these minor cuts bothered this viewer in the slightest if they do you then you can pick up the Scandinavian or Australian Blu-ray Disc releases for the full uncut experience (see Michael Mackenzie’s review here).
Picture and Sound
Encoded in MPEG4 AVC this 1080P transfer is presented in the correct 2.40:1 Widescreen aspect ratio and looks nothing short of stunning. The detail present in every shot is reproduced with great accuracy, with the many busy shots found within the film overflowing with an abundance of texture with no signs of compression problems to be seen. Colours too often jump off the screen, with the film’s sun drenched exteriors and artificially lit interiors bursting to life here.
In terms of the audio this UK release is positively overflowing with options, with the lead track being the uncompressed English 5.1 PCM offering. Sadly I do not have the means to listen to such a track in full 5.1, so instead I defaulted to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix which is encoded at the standard DVD rate of 448kbps. Casino Royale boasts highly active sound design and this being a modern action film it does not fail to disappoint, with the final Venice based action set-piece being a particular highlight as your home cinema starts crashing to the ground around you just as the action does on screen.
Additional language options (all Dolby Digital 5.1, 448kbps) include Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and Turkish while visually impaired viewers will find an English Audio Description track. Subtitles are included in all languages plus a few more, with full details in the side panel to the right.
Following the recent Bond Ultimate Edition DVDs Casino Royale cannot help but disappoint in terms of extras, with a special features section that comes up very short and will almost certainly see a much improved Special Edition release at some point further down the line. For this Blu-ray Disc release there is no exclusive content, but all the DVD extras are ported over with the two Casino Royale specific featurettes being presented in 1080P (encoded in MPEG2). The first of these is Becoming Bond in which the casting process is examined and the producers, writers and director discuss the script development, character changes and generally offer a good insight to the decisions that went on behind the scenes. Daniel Craig is also present offering thoughts from his own unique perspective; while the featurette goes on to cover the general making-of the film taking us on location for key sequences. It’s a worthwhile extra and concise overview of the film’s production.
James Bond: For Real is the second featurette which takes a more technical approach as we are taken on set behind-the-scenes of the major action set pieces in the film. From Daniel Craig training behind-the-scenes to the concepts behind each sequence this is another concise but interesting making-of.
The remaining extras are presented in standard definition and consist of a made-for-television documentary Bond Girls Are Forever and the music video for Chris Cornell’s disappointing Bond theme You Know My Name. The latter is a by-the-numbers music video interspersing film clips with Cornell singing, while the song should have been so much more coming from an artist I have a great deal of respect for. The Bond Girls Are Forever documentary I could have done without, but I suspect it’s not too bad for anyone who grew up with and enjoyed the Bond films over the years, and of course their respective Bond girls. The premise is that of examining what it means to be a Bond girl, something which is done via interviews with several of the women in question ranging from Ursula Andrews through to Eva Green while the host - Maryam d'Abo – is a Bond girl herself. Sometimes the interviews go a little south and no hard line is taken in order to make sure the documentary stays on target, but for the most part everyone seems to understand it’s just a bit of fun and they have a good time with it.
Finally there are some trailers (though none for Casino Royale) in 1080P for The Pursuit of Happyness, Stranger Than Fiction and a Blu-ray Trailer reel.
All extras bar the trailers and music video are subtitled in English only.
The first Bond film I’ve ever been willing to pay money for comes recommended on Blu-ray Disc, offering a superior audio visual experience the only let down is the meagre extras package.