The 007 franchise has been through a rollercoaster ride over the last few years with the actors used to play James Bond and even some of the off the wall storytelling. I have learned to put these negatives aside and enjoy each new Bond film with open arms. Sony Pictures did get the rights back from MGM on the Bond franchise, so their goal was to reboot the franchise. What the producers, writing team, and director Martin Campbell have done hear is taken James Bond back to Ian Flemmings first Bond novel, ‘Casino Royale’.

Surprisingly ‘Casino Royale’ never saw a film release under the Bond name, but there was a film so many decades ago titled ‘Casino Royale’ based off of the story in the novel. ‘Casino Royale’ was a box office hit at the theaters grossing a worldwide total of $594 million dollars with a $102 million dollar budget.

‘Casino Royale’ brings James Bond back to the days of Sean Connery playing 007 when you felt like he was more than just a character going through the paces on screen. We have had Sean Connery as the original James Bond, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan as each apparent replacement over the years. Enter Daniel Craig, whom is the 6th person to play James Bond and deemed as the best Bond since Connery. It’s not only Craig that also helps reboot the franchise in a good way; it’s also that he has a very good script to work with for a change in this series. Yes, a lot of elements that were a suspension in disbelief in the past Bond films (more with Brosnan era) are gone here in ‘Casino Royale’. It was getting to the point where James Bond was being turned into Batman with all the gadgetry.

The story in ‘Casino Royale’ is just plain fantastic and does bring back memories of the older Connery Bond films. Without spoiling much, the beginning chase sequence is utterly amazing and it goes up there with the Ronin car chase sequence. James Bond (Daniel Craig) receives 007 status and is sent on his first stealthy assignment as a spy after Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan). Things don’t go right for Bond at the beginning. Due to his chase of Mollaka, Bond also runs into Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) whom is an evil banker for the terrorists. With Cliffre, it leads Bond to ‘Le Casino Royale’, which is not any ordinary poker game; it is a high stakes poker game where millions are bet on one hand. It is very relieving to see Bond making rookie like mistakes throughout the film and even getting caught up in the game of poker itself which he learns a few valuable lessons. We can’t have a Bond film without a bond girl; enter Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). This Bond girl plays with 007 to a degree where it has him second guessing a lot of his choices.

Picture/Audio Quality
The print is presented in a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is the second outing for ‘Casino Royale’ on Blu-ray as the original release made it’s high definition debut in March 2007. We have the same transfer that was used from the previous Blu-ray release. ‘Casino Royale’ is a very nice looking picture on Blu-ray with superb details and pristine quality with shades of grain throughout. I think that Sony did a great job here with the transfer and can’t complain.

The audio is presented in an Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix vs. the uncompressed PCM 5.1 mix that was on the previous release. While Sony decided to go with a different audio codec here than the previous release, the audio is still fantastic. There is great dynamic range with this release and a more sound coming from the bass giving the sub a bit more work. While the PCM does win with some scenes, some may not even notice the difference since the TrueHD track is good. Dialogue is rather clear and crisp through the center channel. Both the sound effects and dialogue are equally mixed.

Special Features

‘Casino Royale’ receives the royal treatment with this 2-disc Collector’s Edition. The Bond films are no stranger to multiple releases on VHS and DVD over the years, especially with DVD. With each re-release and remastering each film has gotten better. This release is packed with 2 discs worth of special features along with the feature film + the inclusion of BD Live.There are also five new featurettes on Disc 2 that have been included for this release.

  • BD-Live
  • Bonus View Picture-in-Picture Commentary with Director Campbell & Producer Michael G. Wilson
  • Crew Commentary
  • Know Your Double-0 – Bond Trivia Quiz
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD)
  • The Road to Casino Royale Featurette (HD)
  • Ian Fleming’s Incredible Creation Featurette (HD)
  • Bond in the Bahamas Featurette (HD)
  • Ian Fleming: The Secret Road to Paradise Featurette (HD)
  • Death in Venice Featurette (HD)
  • Becoming Bond Featurette (SD)
  • James Bond: For Real Featurette (SD)
  • Bond Girls Are Forever (SD)
  • The Art of the Freerun (HD)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Storyboard Sequence – Freerun Chase
  • Filmmaker Profiles (HD)
  • Music Video – Chris Cornell “You Know My Name” (SD)

James Bond is back to form in ‘Casino Royale’ and I am excited to report that the Collector’s Edition Blu-ray won’t disappoint. ‘Casino Royale’ is the best James Bond film in years, even though I did enjoy the previous entries. If you haven’t seen this film yet, don’t walk to the store or rental establishment……………….run.

List Price: $38.95, Sale Price: $26.95 – Order Casino Royale: Collector’s Edition Blu-ray today from (Amazon and Save)