Sweatband and I finally got to see Casino Royale last night. And what did I think? Well, to be honest, I preferred The Prestige last week.
Don't get me wrong, Casino Royale is a good film - a very good film, in fact - but I just felt it could've been... better.
My main problems with it were three-fold:
1) It really felt like they'd shoe-horned an action film around the content of the original novel (I haven't read Flemming's original novel, but I somehow doubt it has Bond engaging in a long action sequence to save a prototype jetliner, and a cameo from Richard Branson).
2) And then when you get to the actual poker scenes at the Casino Royale the pace of the film alters noticeably.
3) It was sooooooooo loooooooooong... You know how the final Lord of the Rings movie felt like it had about three or four different endings? Well this was exactly the same (although Bond never went home to Hobbiton). There were at least three instances where I thought the credits were about to start rollings, but nope - then he was off for another action sequence.
There were other niggly things too - particularly the woman who played Vesper Lynd. Everytime she tried to say something serious her voice kept getting deeper and deeper and deeper until she was croaking sentences out as if she was talking while being throttled. Sexy? No.
And as Sweatband pointed out, for a film that the producers claimed was cutting down on gadgets, there were rather a lot of gadgets that were integral to the plot. And possibly the most obvious piece of product placement I've ever seen in my life:
"Nice watch - is it a Rolex?"
"No, it's an Omega." (turn to camera, show watch, apply charming grin)
The villains were all pretty obvious too. There were at least two bad guys who had scars on their faces, which says to me that Bond villains are either pretty clumsy, or it's a rite of passage. Seriously though, facially-scarred villains are becoming something of a cliché, methinks. Although at least I'll be able to recognise them when I'm walking down the high street.
So this makes it sound like I really hated Casino Royale, huh? Well no, I didn't. On the plus side, the action sequences were very well done, and Craig David or Daniel Craig or whatever he's called does make a very good Bond. At several points throughout I wondered how Pierce Brosnan would've handled the film - and I actually found it quite hard to imagine. This is nothing against Brosnan - I might even go so far as to say that he's been my favourite Bond - but this film required someone considerably less suave and considerably more emotionally stunted and violent, which might've come off as something of a character-based handbrake turn if Brosnan had returned. Maybe they should alternate Bonds between different scenes?
All in all then, a solid start to Craig David's Bond career. I'm intrigued to see where they're going to take it from here, as long as for the next one they get a bloody editor to cut about 20 minutes out of the damned thing.