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The 1995 classic, Casino teams up Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci for another Martin Scorsese gangster movie; this time in the explosive city of Las Vegas. Based on a true story, and adapted to the screen by Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas’ writer) the story shows ‘Sin City’ being completely corrupted and overrun by the mafia during the 1970s. Sam “Ace” Rothstein, played by De Niro, is a low-level mobster assigned to the head of Tangiers Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Scamming the casino system without a game license, Sam finds immediate success at the new job. This is until his hot-headed, childhood friend, Nicky Santoro, played by Pesci, and ex-prostitute wife, Ginger, played by Sharon Stone, come into the mix and change every for both Sam and Las Vegas. After tearing up the city for years, while meeting (and sometimes killing) a few enemies along the way, the group draws more and more attention to each other, leading to a variety of dangerous consequences, including putting their relationships and careers on the line. Some still say Vegas will never be the same…

An initial question during the viewing of Casino is, “Is this better than Goodfellas? Or is this a Goodfellas rip-off?” In short, the answer to that question is no, this is not better than Goodfellas. Just two minutes shy of a three-hour runtime, Casino feels too long. Having scenes and sequences that ultimately should have just been cut, the film could have been reduced, something that is not said about the greatly appreciated Goodfellas. However, Casino holds up on its own and does NOT feel like a cheap Goodfellas remake. Yes, there are many similarities between the two films—for God sake’s it was written, directed, produced, and even acted by the same damn people! Scorsese really sticks to his Hollywood friends huh?

Fortunately, Casino lives in its own world compared to Goodfellas. This film screams style! The wardrobe, set design, and prop selection take you to another universe…something it does better than Goodfellas. Note—this may be my east coast perspective versus the unfamiliar lifestyle of the western city of Las Vegas. Either way, Scorsese does a great job capturing a different aspect of mafia culture that has not been seen by the director. He seemingly focuses on the characters within this movie, and not just the city they reside in. On paper, Pesci’s and De Niro’s characters may seem very similar. When Las Vegas is involved, however, Scorsese manipulates the two characters until they battle on opposing sides. All around an epic character arch told in the dark evils of this unforgiving city.

Story/Plot19/20 Direction19/20 Acting - 20/20

Cinematography20/20 Score/Soundtrack19/20

Overall: 97/100

The Founder of @HennionProductions,

Matthew Hennion

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