Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Casino Royale

My friend Jedi Jawa gets out to see many more new movie releases than do I. Apparently, Jedi has (a) a whole lot less responsibility than I; thus (b) more idle time; and (c) more disposable cash, with which he can afford that popcorn with extra fake butter.

Me? I gotta go the combo route when I finally make it to the theater. Dialogue I overhear in the kid's line while I'm ordering the #2--which comes with the candy of your choice, along with unbuttered popcorn and a medium soda, by the way--is pretty interesting, and keeps me feelin' young.

Anyway, Jedi made it out to see the newest Bond movie this past weekend, and sent me some comments on it. In typical Jedi style, the comments were full of big words I didn't understand, and it was a paragraph or two too long. But, I owe him one. So, he's the guest reviewer for Casino Royale.

It's a good review. Here is: "How I Spent My Weekend" by Jedi Jawa.

I went to see the new James Bond movie "Casino Royale" this weekend, the 21st official James Bond film (yes, there have been a few unofficial ones).

First, I have to say that this movie really surprised me by just how good that it was. Every time that a new James Bond is rolled out there is that adjustment as you get the last Bond out of your mind and you try to size the new one up to the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and even George Lazenby (if you just said "George who?" then you are not a hard core Bond fan). The new Bond is Daniel Craig and (for the ladies) he is far more physical and muscular than the previous Bonds. For the guys he is by far the most ruthless of the other Bonds and many times I thought of him as a "blue eyed assassin" as the film progressed. He is deadly serious in a way similar to Timothy Dalton; he doesn't womanize like Roger Moore but uses women to achieve his goals more like Sean Connery without the same leve l of callous indifference; yet there is still something about the way that he looks at women that invokes George Lazenby who was the only Bond to ever marry (though it was short lived).

"Casino Royale" is based off of the first Bond book written by Ian Fleming, Bond's creator, in 1953. In turn, the first Bond movie, "Dr. No", was actually based off of the 6th Bond book by Fleming. This is the final of Fleming's books to be adapted to film with the last one being "The Living Daylights". What makes this movie instantly different from the earlier ones is that it is like a prequel except that it is not set before the events of "Dr. No". That means that Bond gets to show up as a newly commissioned "double 0" spy without having to use the clunky technology of the 1960s or having to go back and use someone other than Judi Dench who replaced the original "M" starting with "Goldeneye". Actually, gadgets are not a focus of this film and "Q" does not make an appearance which should not be surprising because "Q" did not appear until several books into Fleming's development of the would-be franchise. What does appear is a lot of action and we see Bond at his grittiest in this chapter of the Bond franchise. I grew up watching Roger Moore who was quick with a joke and tended to shoot from a distance and barely ruffle his feathers in dispensing with his foes. This Bond gets bloodied and physical in his fights in a way that makes the violence more graphic but also more realistic. This film was the first time that I can recall seeing Bond use significant martial arts training in his combat as well.

There is plenty of intrigue and action to be had as we see Bond's early days in MI6 unfold. From a high stakes game of Texas Hold Em (originally Baccarat in the book) to Bond's first meeting with his CIA friend Felix Leiter, the film keeps delivering on the standard Bond elements of interesting bad guys and beautiful vistas while throwing in some new twists as well. For instance, this is the first Bond film that does not open with the dancing Bond girls in the credits. It also does not have the usual teaser opening as all of the previous films have had. Most people will probably not notice this and it is not a distracting break from tradition. This film certainly sets up the expectation of good things coming to the Bond franchise and I think that they have found a Bond that will have a wide appeal after the lukewarm fan feelings of the last two Bond actors (who I personally liked ... particularly Dalton who many seemed to hate).

All in all, it was a very good addition t o the Bond franchise and, as it says at the end of all Bond films, "James Bond will return." They mean it as Craig has been signed to do at least one more film tentatively named "Bond 22" to be released in November 2008.


jedi jawa said...

Woo hoo! Can't believe that I talked ya into letting me onto yer blog film dude (I also am surprised you used the whole thing). My dad and I are hard core Bond fans so I needed a place to put my geeky review. Thanks for the sponsorship man.

I hope to see your comments on the film after you've had a chance to take it in. I'm sure that you'll have something good to say ... albeit with smaller words and kidisms. ;-)

Have a great Turkey Day! Varmint!

Anonymous said...

Impressive writing! ;)

I can't wait to see this one. I'm not as much of a die-hard Bond fan as Jedi, but I do enjoy a good Bond movie. I am glad this one turned out so well.