Casino Royale: A Review of Special Effects Genius

Casino Royale, the newest installment in the James Bond catalogue, has just been released on a two-disc widescreen edition DVD. Casino Royale combines the artistry of special effects genius with the essential elements of any Bond classic: Women, inviting locals and visually stunning, sexy, special effects. The two-disc collector's edition offers ninety minutes of special feature commentary treating us, the ticket buying public, to an insider's view of high tech moviemaking.  

Chris Corbould, the special effects genius behind Casino Royale's success.

Bond Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould, the man behind all the Casino Royale special effects, explains that when he first began working on the film, he was told that there would be no high tech gadgetry and he thought, "no worries." It was then he was told about the incredible sinking house. "This," he said, "was the biggest rig in the entire Bond history. The biggest thing I've ever worked on." So that I don't spoil the secrets, I'll leave that one for you to discover.

The action sequences begin with a stunning demonstration of agility by an unknown actor, Sebastien Foucan, as the terrorist bomb maker. 

Sebastien Foucan in the opening action sequence.

Foucan is the co-founder of a sport called Free Running. His casting as terrorist bomb maker is highlighted in the second disc showing the birth of free running through a documentary, Jump London shown on British television that caught the attention of the writers. He uses the walls as a springboard, adds gymnastic tumbling movements and gracefully bounces from roof to roof as Bond slips, falls and slides to catch up.

Foucan demonstrating his agility and skill in the attention grabbing opening.

Following this explosion of agility, the special effects team begins to weave their artistry into the scenes with precision. Casino Royale has three explosions that vary in degree and demonstrate the skill level the special effect teams use to create a controlled explosion needed to complete the scene.

The Embassy Explosion ends the opening action sequence. The explosion is unexpected. It catches the audience off guard and is stunning both as a scene and as a special effect with the billowing balls of orange red fire that appear to layer within themselves.

Stunning visual displays of special effects brilliance of the Embassy Explosion.

The Miami Airport scene is a succession of fast-paced special effects that, as they are explained, reveal the mastery of the special effects team in creating action sequences. The scene takes place on the runway where the force of the airplane's landing creates a vacuum with the magnitude of a tornado, tossing a police car like a child's toy. The scene was actually shot using three different airports and was edited to make one fast paced, attention grabbing, action sequence.

Sleek, sexy lines, the newest Bond Machine.

The Aston Martin Car crash scene was filmed with the actual use of an Aston Martin and explained that the vehicle is geared toward self-protection. In as much as, two of the four wheels can leave the ground even with the use of a ramp and the car will right itself before it gets back to the ground or rolls. 

The Aston Martin before it begins its world record setting roll.

It became impossible for the stunt team to roll the car and complete the scene without manipulation of the vehicle. The car was fitted with an air shock instrument that the stunt double would punch, sending enough additional power, to get the car to roll.

As I am limiting myself to the rarely reviewed or media acknowledged Special Effects genius associated with Casino Royale and the performances have already been dissected, rated, reviewed and reviewed again, I, well, okay I have to say it anyway: I cannot say enough about Dame Judi Dench. 

Judi Dench reprising her role as "M" the Director of British Secret Service.

So I am compelled to say something here. She reprises her role as M the Director of MI 6, the Brit's International Intelligence Agency, and is impressive. She stays true to her character, or at least how I would assume the Director of an International Intelligence Agency would act, as she braids the layers of the plot, expressing her disdain and showing her exasperation with Bond's assertive techniques, she is able to project authority without demonstrating authority.

Disc two of the DVD set includes Becoming Bond, which details the search for the new James Bond, a search that stunned the international audience as we, the movie going public, assumed that Pierce Brosnan was unceremoniously relieved from his duties for unknown and unreleased details.

The actors who have played Bond are a small club of distinguished men and this added to the public's speculation that there must be some salacious hidden secret for termination so soon after Mr. Brosnan had won our affections. Alas, no juicy, unknown, gossip according to the segment. The only reason for his replacement being the producers needed an actor that could play Bond prior to his promotion as Double O staying true to the book in time sequence.

It is impossible to imagine the success of Casino Royale without the special effects team. The DVD, both movie and Special Features, which include a feature on, yes, Bond Women, is worth the purchase. The movie is even better the second, or fifth, time around.  A solid purchase for any DVD collection and a must for Bond collectors.

Designated Casino Royale photos courtesy of 

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