Before the movie’s release, Daniel Craig had been the most contentious actor of all times to portray Bond: An internet forum had been established only to fuel feelings of animosity toward the actor. Craig, who looks like a mixture of Karl Malden and Steve McQueen, cut a fine figure despite all predictions to the contrary. At the beginning Neanderthal-like and brutal, he gains in personality and character in the second (and more boring) half of the movie. Casino Royale is not supposed to be a typical “save-the-world”- Bond, but to tell the story of Bond preceding his 007-status and to ring in a new Bond-season.
The choice of people responsible for the score of the movie was by far less surprising: David Arnold (composer), Nicholas Dodd (conductor, orchestrator) and Robert Playford (sound design, programming), as the proven team, were allowed to set the new Bond to music. For the first time ever, the James Bond signature tune plays a minor role; most of the time, it is merely sampled and partly varied so that it cannot be recognized as such.
After putting in the CD, the composition immediately begins with its greatest musical steam hammer: “African Rundown” has it rumbling powerfully for seven minutes. The cue was written in the style of Klaus Badelt’s Time Machine (compare “African Rundown” [1:33] with “Morlock’s Attack” e.g. from [2:31]). But there is a decisive difference: Badelt’s piece sounds like synth music while Arnold’s is orchestrated stylishly and uncompromisingly. Powerfully rambling as expected; the deepest bass bombards, which may occasionally leave you gasping, alternate with dissonant brass snatches and frantic strings staccato. The rest is also at its best. It is difficult to describe, you have to listen to it. Because of “African Rundown,” this Bond score may indeed be addictive! Once heard and you will want to return and happily crank up the volume of your stereo to the utmost.
This is not all, though: After James Bond has transformed from boor into sissy and fallen in love with Bond girl Vesper, the music also becomes more romantic. In contrast to The World Is Not Enough, in which Arnold had to use paranoia for the sensual Electra theme, the love theme of Casino Royale is devoid of such ambivalence. Instead, it is catchy and enchanting, but it lacks in style, hinting at John Barry in its harmonics and melody. Further pluses: considerable running time of excellent sound quality – but without the (feeble) Bond song by Chris Cornell. There’s nothing to complain about! There was no room left on the disk anyway …
Unfortunately the second half of the CD loses in quality: You can feel how Arnold craves for writing another epic, old school action score. The new Bond movies will leave him little room for that.
The bottom line: You can tell wonderful stories about Casino Royale and Daniel Craig. The plagiarism of Badelt’s work is blatant (Arnold can normally do better); on the other hand, the reference to Barry is understandable. And if Time Machine served as temp track, he may be excused. If it wasn’t for the slightly incoherent and conventional second half of the album compared to the brilliant beginning, Casino Royale would have to be called by far the best Bond score written by Arnold.
Details zum Soundtrack
I. Die Musik
I. Die Alben