December 3, 2012

Sitzbook: "Casino Royale" by Ian Fleming

OK, so this will be a bit different. I just read this book last week and I wanted to review it for Sitzbook. However, a few friends and I just started a blog about movies and stuff like that, so I wrote a review there comparing the book and the movie. I'll reprint that in this post, but you can also check out the review here. The blog is called Cinematic Attic, and it's pretty fun! If you're interested in movies, books, and music (but especially movies, at least thus far), then check it out!

So, here's my review from Cinematic Attic:

(She's not really purple, though. This isn't Star Wars.)

I'll try to write a short, fast review for this, but that's what I say every time.

OK, I just recently read Casino Royale by Ian Fleming for Sitzbook. It was OK; not that great, but also somehow addicting. It was published in 1953, and the (2nd) movie version came out in 2006, so there are obviously going to be some differences, especially in things like technology. But the movie was very different.

The main characters are the same, at least in name. You've got James Bond, Vesper Lynd, Le Chiffre, M, and Mathis. And there is a high stakes card game at a casino where Bond is trying to defeat Le Chiffre. That part of the movie starts about 1 hour into the movie, but what comes before that is absolutely different from the book. In fact, it's not in the book at all. Bond fights a guy on a skyscraper in Madagascar. Bond goes to the Bahamas to seduce some lady to get closer to her terrorist husband. Bond foils a terrorist plot to blow up a prototype airliner in Miami. 

All that is the first hour of the movie, and it's completely unnecessary. It's supposedly a set-up to help us understand the background of Le Chiffre and the type of people he runs with, but still, Fleming was able to establish all that in about two paragraphs. That's not to say it's not fun, since it is, but then after all that you still have a 1.5 hour movie to get through. The people who made the movie should have just stuck with the Casino Royale story, which is followed fairly closely after that point. There are some differences like location (book is France, movie is Montenegro), and the ending is completely different, but I also understand they needed to make it look cool and sexy, and it's a lot easier to watch an action scene than to read one.

Eva Green (center) and Daniel Craig (right) with a dog (front). I don't remember the dog in the movie, but he could have been the guy helping out the croupier.
So, which is better, the book or the movie? I'd say the movie, but only if you start at about 55 minutes in. They should have just used those 55 minutes and added them to the next Bond movie, because the rest of the story is well done. Daniel Craig is a great James Bond, although I must admit I've only seen a few Bond movies and don't really care that much about the Bond character. So, I'll correct that: Daniel Craig is a cool actor and I like how he plays Bond. I also like how Eva Green plays Vesper. Much stronger and confident, much less stupid and useless than in the book (again, it was written in 1953, so I realize times have changed).

I'd give the book 10 stars out of 17. I'd give the first 55 minutes of the movie 7 stars out of 17, and the second part 12 stars out of 17. 

Yeah, yeah, I know I should see the 1960s movie version, too, if I really want to compare these. But one thing at a time, guys. 

Have a good week, everyone!

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AnnaLisa said...

I tried reading "Thunderball" once. Never got all the way through it. Ian Fleming's Bond is NOTHING like Connery's--the rare case where (IMO, anyway) the movie is far better than the book.

That said, I might try Ian Fleming again one day. Now that I know not to go into it with preconceived notions, I might be able to appreciate HIS style.

Sitzman said...

Yep, I think that's the ticket: no preconceived notions, and lowered or non-existent expectations.

It's sorta like the pizza and ice cream party of literature. I'll fill a need, it's kinda fun, but if you overdo it or overthink it, it's not nearly as good.