Release Date(s)2006 (October 21, 2008)
Studio(s)United Artists/EON/MGM/Columbia (Sony Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A-
Casino Royale was one of Sony's first major Blu-ray Disc releases last year, and one of their first big new release titles on the format, so this Collector's Edition is both a double-dip and an overhaul. Our own Barrie Maxwell reviewed the previous edition last year (you can find his thoughts here). We won't rehash his comments on the plot, except to say that we're in complete agreement with him.
Star Daniel Craig is without question the best Bond since Connery, and there's a real argument to be made that this is one of the very best films in the franchise's history. Certainly, it's the most realistic, ditching all of the usual camp, gadgetry and tongue-in-cheek moments for a darker, edgier turn that's much closer to creator Ian Fleming's original literary intent for the character.
Sony's new Blu-ray version, the release of which is timed to help promote the theatrical debut of the next chapter, Quantum of Solace, next month, is a two-disc set. The film is presented in 1080p high-definition on Disc One, and the quality is excellent. The compression has been optimized to make the most of the extra disc space, so the video quality is even a little tiny bit better than the already terrific previous release. Better still, while the original disc featured an uncompressed PCM track, this new edition features full Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround. It's every bit as good as the original mix.
Extras on Disc One include a new BonusView PiP visual commentary with director Martin Campbell and producer Michael G. Wilson, a scene-specific audio commentary with select members of the production crew, and a BD-Live trivia quiz called Know Your Double-O. Disc Two, meanwhile, contains all of the extras that were on the previous Blu-ray release, including the Becoming Bond, James Bond: For Real and Bond Girls are Forever documentaries, and Chris Cornell's You Know My Name music video. Better still, there are substantial new bonus features here for the first time, including several new documentaries and featurettes (Ian Fleming's Incredible Creation, The Road to Casino Royale, James Bond in the Bahamas, Ian Fleming: The Secret Road to Paradise, Death in Venice and The Art of the Freerun), 4 deleted and extended scenes, 6 Filmmaker Profiles featurettes on key members of the production crew, a storyboard presentation for the "Freerun" sequence and the Catching a Plane scene deconstruction. The only thing missing are the film's theatrical trailers and a preview of Quantum of Solace - disappointing, but probably not surprising. The two-disc set is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case, with a cardboard slipcover.
If you're a fan of this film, this is a substantial upgrade of the original release. It's worth the purchase even if you have the previous disc, but I'd definitely try to find a good sale price to ease the cost. If you're new to the film, this is definitely the version to get your hands on. Casino Royale represents not only a new direction for Bond, but also 007 at his finest.