Yes, it’s toy-talk again at the Hal Blog. While fires burn, protests abound and administrations come together, I took some more time off from my daily involvement with all things political to, well, play. With the new Bond film out there now, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, I wanted to refresh my memory of the last Bond film, CASINO ROYALE. I saw CASINO ROYALE in the theater when it came out. The first Bond film I actually saw on the big screen in ages. I loved Bond as a kid and am, like so many, partial to Sean Connery. As the Bond franchise progressed and new actors slipped into the role, I became less interested, in part cause they weren’t Connery, but also because the films became redundant with action taking a front seat to story instead of a satisfying melding of the two.
CASINO ROYALE renewed my excitement in the franchise. Though a different approach to Bond, and one some claim to be closer to Jason Bourne than James Bond at all, I nonetheless enjoyed this new approach, the characters and story it embodied, and especially Daniel Craig as our new killing machine, secret-agent hero. Yes, this Bond is brutal. But not inhuman. I have not seen QUANTUM yet and can’t say if anything I liked from ROYALE has been carried over, but at least they managed to get my attention and bring me back to at least give it a try.
So this viewing of ROYALE was in my living room on my 65″ Toshiba and on Blu-ray. And it was, to date, the most remarkable looking thing I’ve ever seen. The image jumped off the screen. I wanted to reach out and touch it. And almost believed I could. The difference in watching a film on Blu-ray (even at 1080i instead of 1080p) and seeing that same film on standard DVD is as powerful as the difference between a bad videotape and a great DVD. Except that now the image is closer to film resolution than ever before. CASINO ROYALE is a brightly lit film with very little film grain. It is the perfect sampler for anyone who hasn’t seen the magic of Blu. I can’t imagine anything looking crisper, cleaner, more life-like that was shot on film. Again, not all films are made to look that clean and sharp and grain-free. Nor would I want them to be! But ROYALE is and does and it’s nothing less than sheer film-loving joy.
I watched ROYALE with the uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack and it was a truly astounding accompaniment to the picture. Yes, I would have loved a 7.1 mix to this high-energy film, but the 5.1 is so well-mixed and balanced, so clean and crystal clear that it’s hard to complain.
So, if you’re thinking of going Blu and you want something to push you over the edge, CASINO ROYALE will leave you without any doubts as to what you need to do. Go ahead, drink the Kool Aid. It’s soooo good…