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(Review originally written at 4 February 2006)

"Casino" is by no means a bad movie but it rather is a flawed one, which is mainly due to the story and its characters. The first two-thirds of the movie is certainly great but after that the movie takes some negative turns and it loses some of its credibility and I lost some of my interested.

No question in my mind that Martin Scorsese is a great director but he however does push it at times with this movie. People compare this movie to "Goodfellas" for a good reason. Just like "The King of Comedy" and "Bringing Out the Dead" were similar in many ways to "Taxi Driver", "Casino" is on many ways similar to "Goodfellas". It's a tough gangster epic with lots of graphic violence, lot's of cursing and backstabbing characters. The main storyline is especially parallel to "Goodfellas". Yes, you can truly describe this movie as "Goodfellas" set in a Las Vegas casino in the '80's. Unfortunately the casino world is not as interesting to follow as the gangster world as portrayed in "Goodfellas", at least that's my opinion of it. The movie is too often about 'nothing' really. Style over substance you may say.

But also when you judge the movie on its own good you have to come to the conclusion that there are flaws in it. Sharon Stone is great in this movie but her character is distracting from the movie at times, especially towards the ending when almost the entire movie evolves around her character. It gets tiresome at times after a while and the movie loses some of its credibility because of that. There also are way too many characters introduced in the movie, which makes it hard to follow at times. I also never really got in to the character, not even the main characters. I couldn't really care for any of them and it was hard to understand and follow them at time. The movie is also too violent and graphic, even for my taste. It's a bit too much and some scene's are unbearable. Scorsese really pushed it there and should had hold back a little.

There's nothing wrong with the style of the movie. It's fast paced and wonderfully looking, also mainly thanks to the director of photography Robert Richardson but also of course to Martin Scorsese's stylish and unique way of directing and storytelling. Yes, there are some memorable sequences present in this movie, which certainly helps to make this movie a better one than most of the others in the same genre.

Also of course the presence of some well known good actors make this movie a good one to watch. Robert De Niro is never disappointing in the main lead and Joe Pesci yet again plays a typically hot tempered Joe Pesci role in which he always is just great to watch. The movie unfortunately under-uses James Woods. They could had done some more and better things with that wonderful actor.

Great to watch for the fans of the gangster genre. Overall a good, yet flawed gangster-epic that is certainly worth watching but not worthy of the high rating.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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