The Tempest (2010)

The Tempest (2010) – The following review first appeared as part of a larger article (“Now in Theaters”) on on 11 March 2011.

Pretty well-written. That Shakespeare kid is going places, I think. Even if Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark completely obliterates Julie Taymor’s Broadway career, she can still make movies. Her previous Shakespearean endeavor, 1999’s Titus, is one of my favorites. Frida infused your standard biopic with a visual flair that brought Kahlo’s art to life. Across the Universe was a bizarre trippy clusterfuck of a 1960s pastiche, but I enjoyed it. Her biggest revision to the play involves a sex change to the main character. The sorcerer Prospero becomes the sorceress Prospera. The main reason for this seems to be so she can be played by Dame Helen Mirren. No complaints whatsoever. At this point, I’m pretty convinced Mirren could play Conan the barbarian and make me believe it. To you uncultured swine unfamiliar with the story (kidding, I had only a passing knowledge of it myself) allow me to summarize. Prospera is the exiled Duchess of Milan who is stranded on a mostly deserted island with her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones), her slave Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), and a spirit called Ariel (Ben Whishaw) who aids her. She uses sorcery to summon a storm (the titular tempest) to shipwreck her treacherous brother Antonio (Chris Cooper), Alonzo the king of Naples (David Straithairn), Alonzo’s son Ferdinand (Reeve Carvey), and Alonzo’s brother Sebastian (Alan Cumming). Also stranded are Alonzo’s drunken butler Stefano (Alfred Molina) and his jester Trinculo (Russell Brand). You read that last part right, Russell Brand is doing Shakespeare. It works though, as Shakespeare was certainly not above broad comedy which works well for Brand. The plot that unfolds deals with revenge, ambition, love, and all that great stuff. The acting is solid and the visuals are great. Hounsou’s Benin accent coupled with Shakespearean dialogue makes Caliban somewhat difficult to understand, but that’s a very minor quibble with a movie I enjoyed very much.

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