With a double assassination now under his belt, James Bond (Craig) is sent about the globe on his first mission as a "00" agent, eventually landing in beautiful Montenegro. Under the watchful eye (and, of course, longing heart) of British Treasury Official Vesper Lynd (Green), he enters a high-stakes—$10 million high—poker game with the nefarious terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen) at the Casino Royale. Determined to catch his man, cardiac arrest is a mere inconvenience in this high-octane, you're-going-to-be-sore-in-the-morning action adventure. (Jack Kelley)
Special features, available with optional subtitles, are the same as those found on the DVD and include three featurettes: the 27-minute high-definition "Becoming Bond"; the 24-minute high-definition "James Bond: For Real"; and the 49-minute "Bond Girls Are Forever (2006)," which is also available to watch in three separate parts; the Chris Cornell music video; previews; and up-front ads.
With nicely saturated hues, accurate fleshtones, and deep blacks, the anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 DVD can look superb. Shadow delineation is good, but the image can look slightly too contrasted. In general, fine details are captured well, but there are occasional instances where the finest textures look slightly smeared. Pixilization and compression artifacts are not overly cumbersome, but noticeable at times, and edge enhancement is noticeable throughout. The Blu-ray Disc improves upon all of the aspects of the DVD noticeably, with much improved detail, very realistic color fidelity, and improved shadow delineation. Contrast also seems to be slightly better, although still a little hot, and finely captured details are impressive. You can see why Sony decided to include this disc with every PlayStation® 3 sold in Europe. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is, as expected, exciting, with a feverish use of each available channel to deliver impressive imaging around the room. The surround channels, though, can be presented at low levels, relative to the front channels, which can limit their effectiveness at times. Deep, tight bass is delivered through each of the six channels, with the LFE channel incorporated at appropriate levels to infuse the room with bone-numbing low frequencies. Fidelity is pristine, and dialogue is recorded well. The Blu-ray Disc's uncompressed linear PCM encoding improves upon fidelity, with more natural-sounding dialogue and more articulate bass. The levels are encoded at much higher levels than the DVD's Dolby encoding and could potentially be system threatening if proper precautions are not made. It is unfortunate Sony Pictures did not include a 24-bit PCM encoding, as this could have been the reference release thus far for Blu-ray Disc. (Danny Richelieu)