Monday, November 27, 2006

Casino Royale

James Bond is back. Daniel Craig is so good he’ll make you forget all about George Lazenby.

And every other Bond other sans Sean Connery.

CASINO ROYALE was terrific. A little long but great action sequences (that didn’t depend on gadgets) and a Bond girl you could actually believe is smart (unlike the time we were asked to buy that Denise Richards was a nuclear scientist, the single greatest conceit in motion picture history). Eva Green was radiant, and more important, nude in most of Bertolucci’s 2003 release, THE DREAMERS – just ordered from Amazon.

How refreshing that the stakes in CASINO ROYALE were real. There was no madman plot for world domination, no giant secret compound/fortress/Norad that served as the super villain’s lair. (I always wondered how such mega complexes could be constructed and thousands of gun toting guards could be hired without anyone knowing about it. I mean, how did they get the building permits approved?) The Magoffin was $150,000,000 – which is not pocket change but still less than it cost to make the movie.

But the revelation was Craig.

I never bought Roger Moore. I’m sorry, James Bond does not have liver spots. Moore probably needed a stunt double to do his walking scenes. Timothy Dalton never lived up to his potential from THE ROCKETEER. And Pierce Brosnan was good but a little too slick and pretty. Like the Fox television version of 007. If Brosnan wasn’t available they’d insist on Rob Lowe.

Craig however, was real, he was gritty, and I mean this as a genuine compliment -- an asshole sometimes. You really saw how that job takes its toll on you, both physically and psychically. Although I understand it’s still an easier job than being a staff writer on CYBILL.

With CASINO ROYALE I feel the producers saved the franchise. And just in the nick of time. Because in 2006, James Bond’s biggest rival isn’t Goldfinger, or Ernst Blowfeld, or Dr. No. It’s Jack Bauer.

I'm in a movie reviewing mood. Tomorrow -- DREAMGIRLS.


Anonymous said...

You're right about Casino being a little too long, Ken. I thought so, too - But we both know that if it were shorter, it wouldn't be the action they cut (and I thought that the chase at the beginning could stand a little judicious cutting), it would be the character stuff, and that's one of the reasons I loved this movie so much. I cared about Vesper and Bond, and it was great to see Dame Judith chew a little scenery, too, so I can live with the running time.
Russell Walks
(Can't remember my stupid Blogger password!)

Geekette said...

Ah, The Dreamers. Very interesting film. I'm not sure I understood most of it (perhaps it was due to the lack of French subtitles I had for the French speaking parts), but I liked it. And Eva Green's nudity was pretty nice. And so was whats-his-face-ignorant-American-boy. Mmhm. He was so scared.. :D

Loved Casino Royale. Am going to see it again if I can. The one-liners they had (the fewest ever in a Bond film- which I'm grateful for) were most excellent and very witty. Bond is back and I'm happy to see the next Craig flick. Le Chiffe is supposedly funding SPECTRE, I think.


Richard Cooper said...

I didn't think it was actually too long; the character development needed room to breathe, in a 60s-throwback kinda way. However, the big third act plot complication came out of the blue and was a bit disconnected (with no plausible set up) which probably contributed to the "lengthy" feeling.

Anonymous said...

One more thing I liked ; it was faithful to the novel - Probably the first Bond film to be faithful the book since OHMSS...


Anonymous said...

So my wife and I read the book before seeing the movie. She didn't like the film, I thought the adaptation wasn't half bad. I understand why it was long, but still wish they cut about 45 minutes out.

The book? I highly recommend it. I've got to read all of Ian Fleming's Bond books now. Daniel Craig was this guy!

Oddly fascinating for someone who grew up with Roger Moore as 007 for most of his formative years. Moore was a much more Bond in Cannonball Run.

Anonymous said...

ooops. I meant to say...

Moore was a much more convincing Bond in Cannonball Run.

Robert "kebernet" Cooper said...

And Pierce Brosnan was good but a little too slick and pretty. Like the Fox television version of 007. If Brosnan wasn’t available they’d insist on Rob Lowe.
I have to disagree here. Brosnan could have done the dark and tormented Bond that they hinted at:

"How many Vodka martini's does it take to silence the screams of all the men you've killed?"

The problem was, by the time you got to the second movie with him, they were 2 hours product placement events with explosions and not movies.

Brosnan is still my second facorite Bond, he was just never given a really good movie to work with.

Mike Barer said...

Most people will agree that Moore was bad in the role. That is the Bond that I grew up on though, as Live And Let Die was the first Bond movie that I ever saw.

Diane said...

I agree with your review of Casino Royale - I loved it. I grew up in the '60s going to the local drive-in to see Connery in the latest Bond with my dad and older brother, and I am a big fan of the franchise. (Though I think almost every Bond movie is a bit too long.) This is the first movie in memory that I am willing to pay to see a second time.

david golbitz said...

Hear, hear. Craig is the best Bond since Connery's early movies. This might very well be the best Bond movie since those first few.

I can't wait to see where they take the character in the already-in-development sequel.

And Eva That scene where Vesper and Bond meet for the first time on the train was great, and then the scene in the shower...that's the kind of characterization you don't normally see in a Bond flick.

Anonymous said...

I suppose special thanks should also be given to producer Charles Feldman, for screwing up the original "Casino Roayle" so badly it left ample room to do a remake based far more on Flemming's original story.

Anonymous said...

Martin Campbell must have gone to the Peter Jackson school of pacing. A good movie doesn't give my watch a workout.

Craig is the shiz though.

Anonymous said...

In defense of Roger Moore, Ian Fleming wanted him instead of Connery for "Dr. No." And Moore was the right Bond for his time. "Get Smart" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." ruined the idea of a serious Bond for at least a generation. When Moore played Bond, he almost said to the audience "I know this is silly. You know this is silly. But, let's have a good time anyway."

The interesting question about the new Bond will be "Do we need a Q?" Is the scene where Q (or Major Boothroyd in Dr. No) shows Bond all the new gadgets necessary?

Anonymous said...

Interesting... I'm hearing some good reports on Craig. I was going to avoid this old chestnut franchise because of it's "interchangeable Bond" philosophy, but I'm intrigued now. Thanks for protecting the integrity of (imo) the greatest Bond. I fully accept your take on the others.

Connery will always be the best. And I've had a crush on Eva Green since Kingdom of Heaven. If I was Balian, I would have married her, killed the frenchman and ended the movie 20 minutes earlier.

maven said...

I really enjoyed "Casino Royale". Daniel Craig's characterization of Bond really humanized him. He's even a little winded after chasing the bad guy! He's not a cutout cariacture...he looks and acts like a real person. My husband thought he was too street smarts for the role, but I enjoyed the down-to-earth feel. He's definitely right behind Connery in my book.

Anonymous said...

"... Denise Richards was a nuclear scientist, the single greatest conceit in motion picture history."

Oh, yeah?
Keanu Reeves, scientist, 'Chain Reaction', 1996.

Anonymous said...

"James Bond does not have liver spots"

Well, in Fleming's books, Bond joined the secret service during World War II. He'd have a few liver spots if he were somehow still alive now.

I just imagine Dame Judi reading the novel and being shocked to discover she was playing a man.

I remember in OCTOPUSSY, at the climax there's a huge battle going on between young, virile, strong people, some working for the good guys, some for the bad guys, and then Roger More and Desmond Llewellyn come floating down into the fray in a balloon, and we were supposed to believe that the arrival of these two frail, elderly men was going to turn the tide of battle between two armies of twenty-somethings. Idiotic.

Pierce Brosnan never worked for me. He just seemed like a younger, tougher Roger Moore, and his sex appeal was undetectable. I watched "Die Another Day" last night on SPIKE, and was again reminded how bad he was, when noticing that the villain was vastly sexier than Bond.

Bland as George Lazenby was, he was a better Bond than Moore or Brosnan.

I really look forward to seeing "Casino Royale" later this week.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding point Jim 7!!!! Keanu playing anyone with an IQ higher than a seedless grape is indeed the greatest conceit in motion picture history.

(Even though I've heard he is a pretty amiable fellow and a decent hockey goaltender in real life)

Warren Fleece said...

Keanu! Colbert would say "he's not playing, he's acting at you", but readily a fine fellow.

Anonymous said...

Also loved CR, but I agree that a half hour could have been cut. Craig was excellent - a terrific Bond for the present day. The toughest Bond ever. I never could stand Roger Moore - his Bond seemed like such a...pansy. Ever Dalton was preferable. I liked Brosnan; he was the Bond that Roger Moore wanted to be (although Brosnan's last two movies weren't all that great). I can understand why they replaced him for CR, though - Brosnan never would have been able to pull off the tough-guy Bond.

Anonymous said...

But Keanu has a wonderful sweetness in 'A Walk Through the Clouds.'

Anonymous said...

"... Denise Richards was a nuclear scientist, the single greatest conceit in motion picture history."

"Oh, yeah?
Keanu Reeves, scientist, 'Chain Reaction', 1996."

I got one...

Matthew McConaughey as a Yankee Lawyer in Amistad, 1997.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a bit too long also, but it sure was good! Glad to see "Bond" back in action :)

Anonymous said...

Wait a seccond, are you saying there was talking and a plot to The Dreamers, I might have to watch that again, I must not have noticed that the first time.

Claude said...

Just saw Casino Royale, and it wasn't terrible. It was a lot like A.I., the story would just not DIE!

Do any writers actually consider Bond movies to be well-written?

Anonymous said...

Get Smart" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." ruined the idea of a serious Bond for at least a generation.

Actually, Bond flicks like GOLDFINGER and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE are responsible for introducing the fantasy/humor elements of the Bond franchise. Especially GOLDFINGER.