Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Casino Royale

I've never been a big fan of James Bond movies, but I've always felt an obligation to watch them since they are part of such a well-known and established franchise. And so I headed to Ayala to watch Casino Royale. Besides, I had been hearing that this one is different.

There's been a lot of negative talk in the past year about the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond ("more liek james blonde! har har!"). Goldeneye was the first Bond movie I ever saw so Pierce Brosnan is practically the only Bond I've ever known. I've long wondered what it would be like at the changing of the guard when some new face finally takes over the part, and Daniel Craig seems to fit into the role just perfectly. This fits my hypothesis that when a respected company does something that seems completely crazy, they just might know what they're doing.

Casino Royale is to the James Bond series what Batman Begins was to the Batman series. Less focus on the girls and gadgets and special effects, more focus on the character and the starkly realistic action. James Bond is a real character this time, not just a caricature. This is a real movie, not just another episode in a long-running high-budget TV series.

Star Movies seems to have gone Bond crazy these past few days, so after watching Casino Royale I've been able to watch some of Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Die Another Day. I never thought there was anything particularly wrong with the movies before, but watching them again made me realize how cartoony they are in comparison. In Die Another Day, Bond has an invisible car and windsurfs on huge CGI waves in the arctic without getting wet. In sharp contrast to Die Another Day's relatively sanitized torture scene, Casino Royale's villain strips Bond butt naked and goes straight for the balls. :/ It's a painful scene to watch, but the grittiness is appreciated.