on casino royale

We went to see Casino Royale tonight.

Short version of this blog post: I thought it was great. A good Bond movie, worthy of the franchise. Worth seeing in the theatre. Dragged a little at the end. Eva Green is hot. Ha ha to all the Daniel Craig haters, because Craig kicked ass. We ran into Jag and her man there (see here for her thoughts, mostly about Craig’s ass. which was pretty nice, i’m just sayin.)

Longer version of this blog post, containing random observations, accolades, and annoyingly pedantic observations about differences between the novel and the film adaptation, including MASSIVE SPOILERS:

If you don’t want MASSIVE SPOILERS and you are still reading, you really have no self control, do you? Quit it.

So, here we go:

  • First, the whole chase scene at the beginning on the construction site was an amazing bit of stuntwork and cinemaphotography. I also expect [David Belle][5] and his [traceurs][6] to file suit any day now for copyright-infringement. (Can you copyright a chase-scene style?) UPDATE: Apparently the guy being chased was Sebastien Foucan, which, well, explains a lot. So nevermind about the suing.
  • They actually had James Bond driving a Ford – a hand-built Mondeo MkIV prototype, but still. Come on. I mean, first it was the Fords with fancy marques on them: Jaguar, Aston-Martin. But this time, they actually opened the damn movie with him driving a car with an actual Ford logo. So much for the James Bond luxury auto-mystique. They at least made up for it with the some better autophilia porn: the new Aston Martin DBS, and a ‘67 or so DB5
  • They didn’t do a very good job of selling the friendship that develops between Leiter and Bond, which is sorta relevant in future books (and, one imagines, future movies).
  • They also didn’t do a very good job of selling the romance between Vesper and Bond, mostly because Craig is a little cold and stilted. This is forgiveable, of course, since he was given the job of portraying James Bond, not the wussy pre-James-Bond, but he does his best.
  • This is an obvious one, but: in the book, Le Chiffre, is a fat lecher, whose lust was the reason he was fucking up and in danger of being eliminated. I can forgive them for making him into a sinister/suave dude with a scar. Having Bond’s nemesis in a high-profile movie be some lazy fat dude wouldn’t fly. Casino Royale is a book that is very difficult to fit into the prototypical Bond Movie Format.
  • They changed the game from baccarat to Texas Hold-em. This sucked a little because you lose some of the high-brow snobby charm of a high-stakes baccarat game, but I’d be lying if I came even close to following the intricacies of the game in the book. I could barely follow the poker in the movie.
  • I am glad they included the genital mutilation. I thought for sure they’d puss out on that entirely, though they did soften it up a bit.
  • I’ve saved my biggest gripe for last. Most of the aforementioned crap is minutia that’s to be expected in a Hollywood treatment of a script from Fleming’s first book, over half a century old. This one, though, I thought was unforgivable. This movie was supposed to be the “making” of Bond – we see how he went from a recently promoted “blunt instrument” to a cruel, cold, suave, womanizing, unfeeling killing machine. The novel most certainly shows us this, via a very non-“Bond” sequence of events (as I have noted before). He gets the shit kicked out of him, spends half the book recovering and falling in love with a woman who then betrays him and kills herself. The end of the novel:

    The telephone rang and Bond snatched up the receiver.
    He was on to ‘the Link’, the outside liaison officer who was the only man in London he might telephone from abroad. Then only in dire necessity.
    `This is 007 speaking. This is an open line. It’s an emergency. Can you hear me? Pass this on at once. 3030 was a double, working for Redland.
    `Yes, dammit, I said “was”. The bitch is dead now.’

    The end. That’s hardcore. The movie reproduces this line, and it maintains its emotional weight. Hell, I had chills. But .. then it keeps going. Yes, they tacked on this stupid “explanation” from M, where she explains that .. “well, she saved your life by [something i’ve already forgotten], so she wasn’t all that bad” (paraphrased). Then it cuts to a shot of Bond mulling this, thoughtfully. Terrible. It unnecessarily slaps some sort of post-hoc apology of Vesper’s betrayal in an attempt to reconcile her character, I guess (why?). It also completely ruined the impact of the finality of the book’s ending. It didn’t matter in the book whether or not Vesper was really a sweet girl at heart, or that maybe she was really okay because she saved his life (she didn’t, in the book). She was a double agent, and he was a sucker and fell in love with her. The bitch is dead now.

    They at least managed to salvage some of this rambling with Bond communicating the “let’s just get back to work” sentiment before a brief (also unnecessary) revenge segment at the end.

    All in all, I thought the end was disappointing. In the Chris Wage cut, the end of the novel would have been preserved in its totality, and the movie would end immediately thereafter. Why don’t they consult me on these things?</li> </ul>