For those who are familiar with Martin Scorcese, his "Casino" will play like a greatest hits of his past films. This is a big, bold and grandiose movie that is typical of the esteemed filmmaker, but he covers a lot of well-known territory and re-visits a lot of themes and plot devices he has dealt with before.
Still, no one tells a story quite like Scorcese and here he re-teams with screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi who wrote the novel that this is based on, and the end result is a vibrant film despite its familiarity. It's full of violence, humor and great, larger-than-life characters, beautifully brought to life by this exceptional cast.
Robert DeNiro knows this part very well, mostly because he's played it a time or two before, and Sharon Stone gets her first real chance to show what she can do with a great part. However, it's Joe Pesci who really shines here once again, playing a variation on the same character he played in "Good Fellas". Granted it's the showiest part in the film, but there's a reason that Pesci keeps getting cast in these roles. Quite simply, he's electric on the screen.
Even though the film (and the novel before it) is a work of fiction, you get a real sense of the history of Las Vegas from this, and I mean the real history, This isn't the lesson you're going to learn in school, but it sure feels authentic enough. "Casino" doesn't rank as one of Scorcese's best, but even a good film from the director is better than almost anything else in theaters. It's not exactly groundbreaking, but it is a compelling, captivating film that is exceedingly entertaining.