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Bond Is Back

***No spoilers really, but if you want to be truly surprised, wait 'til you've seen the movie to read this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
the real James Bond stood up tonight. Wow. Rock'em, Sock 'em. And he can actually act. Daniel Craig comes out guns a-blazing and doesn't look back. Neither does the Bond franchise. In my opinion, Casino Royale ranks with Goldfinger, From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty's Secret Service as one of the best Bond's ever. It is that good. From the monochromatic opening to the hyper-technicolor title sequence to the 10 minute "free-running" chase through Madagascar. Much of it has to be seen to be believed. It's got all of the exotic locales you expect; Italy's Lake Como especially looks like an Elysian dream. There are the dynamic fights, life-saving gadgets and a few good quips (though they went very easy on the one-liners). All the proper ingredients for a James Bond movie.

The real revelation is Craig, who actually looks like he could kick anyone's ass and do all the running and tumbling he does. Unlike the other 007's, you would absolutely not want to be on the wrong side of him. Connery of course, is the "original," but just as with Batman Begins last year, and Superman Returns this summer, Casino Royale works hard to establish the new actor as the character in his own right. And it certainly succeeds. Craig will make you forget you ever saw Pierce Brosnan as Bond, let alone Tim Dalton. And his Jimmy Bond would beat the crap out of Roger Moore. I haven't been this excited about a Bond film since the first time I got to stay up late to watch Goldfinger on TV.

For those familiar with the movies, some fine friendly faces show up along the way. Dame Judi Dench as M and Bond newcomer, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. Eva Green actually helps ratchet up the Bond Girl quotient as Vesper with real acting chops. But this is Daniel Craig's show all the way. He makes the World Tournament of Poker look as downright geriatric as it is. His gaming showdown (and gamesmanship) with the villain, Le Chiffre (Dane Mads Mikkelsen), is as tense as the action sequences.

Among the high-octane highlights is a wonderful Miami International based scene that is an obvious homage to first Bullitt, then Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which both owe much to the Bond franchise. And what fan of the series wouldn't love the final set piece in a crumbling Venetian palazzo or for that matter the last line of the film. Stupendous. I cheered through much of it and did my annoying "loud" applause as the film faded to black. I can't wait to see it again. I can't wait to see what Mr. Craig's Bond does next. And when they need a new theme song, we'll be around to provide it.

In band news, I will post the upcoming show dates in the a.m. Time for bed.

Love, Power, Peace

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