Casino: 2 Disc Special Edition DVD Review
PictureUnfortunately, this Special Edition has less than stellar image quality - the best I can say is that the vibrant use of colour perfectly portrays the time and setting of the movie; the green of the blackjack baize, the rich reds and golds of the casino carpets, the neon lighting - it's all so perfectly... garish!
Close up shots appear reasonably well detailed if a little soft, but medium and long shots take on blurry, out of focus look. This softness, combined with a fairly liberal dose of edge enhancement simply robs Casino's image of any semblance of modernity... which, in a weird way kind of suits the movie - we really do seem to be back in the seventies/eighties! Having said that, it is a bit of a shame that Scorsese's wonderful direction and interesting framing techniques is let down by an eminently average-looking anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer. Any Special Edition deserves a solid picture at the very least, but Casino is such a special movie image quality really should have been better here.
SoundThings continue in the same vein audio wise. It's interesting that what is ultimately a hard-hitting gangster movie, Casino is extremely dialogue heavy with little in the way of surround action - this is a very front soundstage oriented movie. Whilst rich and clear, nothing really sets Casino's 384Kbps Dolby Digital soundtrack apart, although the many musical interludes set the scene time wise.
As with image quality, the audio side of things could, and should, have been better. Hopefully the extra features will buck what is seeming like a bit of a trend here...
ExtrasDisc one holds the audio commentary with Martin Scorsese, Sharon Stone, author Nicholas Pileggi - who also wrote the screenplay for Goodfellas - and others. It is interesting and holds many, many insights, but it's one of those commentaries where each person has been interviewed at different times in different places with a voice announcing, “Martin Scorsese” - “Sharon Stone” etc. at regular intervals. As with image and audio, I was disappointed that an all new, dedicated, commentary could not have been worked out for this Special Edition.
On to disc two. As I began watching Casino: The Story I found myself being reminded of The Commitments DVD. As with that two discer, some of the stories being told here have already been commented on in the audio commentary and at just over eight minutes long I decided to regard this as an apperitif to the main course...
Casino: The Cast and Characters finally ups the ante; now we get to see and hear De Niro, Scorsese, Pesci and Stone. I enjoyed this feature, not least because it led to a first for me - yep, first time my eyes have filled with tears whilst watching some extra features. Yes, it is a little “American” in a “Scorsese is the best”, “De Niro is so giving” etc. sort of way, but Stone is undoudtedly the necessary estrogen in a maelstrom of testosterone induced mayhem. And man does she still look good!
Casino: The Look and After The Filming are pretty much more of the same as has gone before, but Vegas and the Mob makes for an interesting watch and it's fascinating to see scenes of real violence make the movie's depiction seem rather lame!
Perhaps the lure of deleted scenes with De Niro and all got my hopes up, but this was a disappointing collection of what could have been described as bloopers, allbeit not particularly ammusing ones. Rounding off the rather staid supplemental features is a “Recorded For The History Channel” documentary, History Alive: True Crime Authors - arguably the best of the lot!
VerdictFrom Bondesque style opening sequence, through all two and three quarter hours of movie, Casino is simply a classy movie. As such it clearly deserves a better release than this 2 Disc Special Edition DVD.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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