Letï¿½s face it people. Martin Scorsese, for most part, is a god amongst filmmakers. The man canï¿½t do anything wrong in the filmmaking. Film after film he continues to amaze me with his sheer ability to tell a story bundled together with fantastic acting. Even though many donï¿½t name Casino as one of his best works (rightfully so), the film is still excellent as it shows the gritty 1980s Las Vegas mob world.
One cursory glance at the plot of Casino would make the smallest Scorsese fan think that the film should be called Goodfellas 2. Both have to do with the mob world, both star Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and both are about men who think theyï¿½re on top of the world. Sure, this is myself trying to connect the two films, but damn it if this film didnï¿½t feel like a sequel. Donï¿½t get me wrong though that isnï¿½t necessarily a bad thing, just it takes away some (key word some) of the shine that the film had.
The basic plot of the film goes a little something like this. Sam ï¿½Aceï¿½ Rothstein (De Niro) and his childhood friend Nicky Santoro (Pesci) rule the mob world. To switch up their game a bit, they decide to head out to Las Vegas to take over the Casino world. Sam takes over the local Casino joint Tangiers while its up to Nicky to play the local thug man (seemed to me that it would be opposite here as Pesci is rather short and, seemingly, wouldnï¿½t be feared by most). Anyhow everything is sailing smoothly for both men. The moneyï¿½s rolling in, parties are non-stop and best of all and no one suspects a thing (this probably has to do with the fact that everyone is paid off). Like any positive equation, love mixes its way in with the lovely Ginger (Sharon Stone). Sam is soon smitten with her convincing her to marry him. The rest of the film shows us the grimy world of 1980s mob, the world of backstabbing and the world of violence and pure insanity.
As I mentioned above Casino felt like a sequel to Goodfellas in that the two had numerous similarities stylistically and story-wise. One could possibly assume that Casino did play out as a sequel type film for Scorsese so he could wrap up every little angle and view he wanted to showcase about the mob world. Sure Casino isnï¿½t as smooth and visually pleasing as Goodfellas (this would be because there are numerous sequences, simply due to the sheer violence in the film, where the viewer needs to turn away), but damn if Scorsese doesnï¿½t know how keep the audience alert. Blood splat there, gun shot here, obscenity there (and there x1000).
Thatï¿½s what Iï¿½ve come to love about Scorsese films. He understands that in order to tell a great story you need not only capable actors, but also smart use of your backdrops and (most importantly I might add) a long running length. Donï¿½t you just hate it when youï¿½re getting into a film only for it to end abruptly? Scorsesesï¿½ films almost always hover around the 3hr mark, a perfectly length for what he wants to tell us. I use to think that Spielberg and Cameron were go to directors for sheer excellence, but Iï¿½ve come to realize that Scorsese is the man to go to. He consistently gives us pure examples of crafty filmmaking at its best (and man oh man Academy if you donï¿½t honor this man for The Departed, some heads will definitely roll)!
While not as much of a visceral force as Goodfellas was, Casino still works on its own solely due to the fabulous directing, exquisite acting and fine (if somewhat heard before) story. Recommended for all Scorsese fans and for anyone look for an all around great film.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Universalï¿½s Casino contains some of the best image quality Iï¿½ve seen on a catalogue title.
Color usage is perfect with bright whites and solid oranges (flesh tones on each characterï¿½s face had incredible detail). Detail was top notch with such attention that every little area shined. Just pause a scene in the casino and look around at the detail (the pores on charactersï¿½ faces, threads on bowties and dollar signs on the slot machines). Sure some of detail wasnï¿½t necessary (particularly how bright the blood looked), but this is only my queasy self.
Another huge positive is that Casino benefits from a newer restoration that Universal did for a re-released SD DVD last year. This results in nearly no evidence of grain, edge enhancements, video noise or any huge problems on the print. What an amazing transfer this was. Kudos to you Universal as you keep on giving us +ï¿½s week after week.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 available in either English, Espanol or Francais, Casino, while not being the loudest film, had moments of beautiful response.
Dynamic Range represents the aforementioned beautiful response. I was quite pleased with how well Scorsese presented each effect and sound. Particularly I enjoyed his selection of various songs, all which helped tell the story. Dialogue was clean and crisp with each obscenity coming through just fine (A little side-note though. If youï¿½re watching this one with kids in the house, you may want to watch the volume level whenever Nicky is on screen).
Surround usage was fine as well. Each speaker had a responsibility throughout this film from the rears giving us the discrete effects to the fronts providing us with dialogue. And the song selection added in creating a great, enveloping aural experience. Bass was deep and low only really becoming active during the musical sequences and some of the anger moments. Honestly I didnï¿½t expect anything out of this one here. I came out rather pleased.
- Casino: The Story: This making of was highly entertaining throughout, albeit being a bit short. We get a brief look at the script, the basis off of the book and the casting. I enjoyed the slight comments Scorsese had on what he felt he owed to Universal with this one.
- Casino: The Cast and Characters: This 22 minute piece focuses on the casting of the film giving us information on why Scorsese wanted to reunite with Pesci and De Niro. Oh and donï¿½t be surprised if one day De Niro is honored with some type of lifetime achievement award. The man is a masterpiece among actors. Anyhow I loved how Stone was so into herself that she apparently by passed Scorsese on his first offering. Talk about loving yourself huh?
- Casino: The Look: This 17 minute piece focuses on the extreme attention to detail Scorsese had with the film. Everything had to represent the 1980s Las Vegas look from the cars to the buildings.
- Casino: After the Filming: This shorter 9 minute piece focuses on the impact the film had on the actors, the world and Sharon Stone in particular.
- Moments with Martin Scorsese, Sharon Stone and Nicholas Pileggi: Probably billed as the audio commentary on the disc, the title perfectly describes this one. Instead of actual comments, the three participants comments were spliced together from separate audio interviews. Subjects like film impact, working with Scorsese and visual styles are dealt with.
- Deleted Scenes: HAHA! Some funny scenes here with Scorseseï¿½ mother Catherine chastising her son for using so many obscenities.
While not as powerful as Goodfellas, Casino is still a masterpiece in its own with dynamite acting and directing. Universal has hit another home run with this release giving the film a fine transfer, great audio and some interesting features. Recommended on all fronts!
Special Features List
- Casino: The Story
- Casino: The Cast and Characters
- Casino: The Look
- Casino: After the Filming
- Moments with Martin Scorsese, Sharon Stone and Nicholas Pileggi
- Deleted Scenes