November 15, 2007
| by Marshal Rosenthal
James Bond was never supposed to be a Superhero and I’m all for returning to the gritty and serious world that his creator Ian Fleming first placed him in. So it’s appropriate for “Casino Royale” to be the first Bond movie to go high-def - after all it was the first novel written and stars a new James Bond. But it’s also a return to a more realistic outing than chasing super-crooks seeking world domination led by cartoonish henchman. What this also means is a return to physical stunts over CG, which benefit from the discerning view high-definition offers.
Let’s start with the opening black and white sequence which is intentionally grainy (and mirrored by the splash screen menus at the start). On DVD the look would be rendered “mushy” as details would disappear - all ruining the effect the director intended. That’s not the case now. And while there’s plenty of action, high-definition also gives the eye a chance to look around and absorb the reality of the landscape. Plus the actors take on a greater importance as everything about them from skin to clothing becomes more delineated and sharp (such as the sheen glistening off the the female lead in contrast to the the world-weary lines of “M” or the hard contours of Bond’s body). All of which brings a higher level of realism as the players converge at the Casino and the chips and cards that now become featured even more prominently.
Audio is important for dialogue but also for the mood and all important “Bond” ambiance. I expect there will be more BD titles taking advantage of Dolby Digital Plus moving forward, but here the choice is PCM (providing you’re able to access this) or that old standby Dolby Digital Plus. Either way the sound will not disappoint and use of surrounds is pervasive and well done.
There are four featurettes included, with two of them in HD (that the music video is standard-def is fine but the one on the Bond girls should have been given the HD treatment). Fans will enjoy watching them, as has been the case with similar content on other Bond films.