BEST OUT-OF-PERIOD SHAKESPEARE FILMS
This is where it gets good, guys.
- •Coriolanus (Fiennes)This is one of Shakespeare's bloodier plays, and that is borne out in this film production. The story is brought forward out of Ancient Rome into present time; the violence and political contrivance are all the more credible for the shift. There is a LOT of action in this movie - so much that Shakespeare's words sometimes get lost. However, the cast does a great job of making this rather unapproachable play both comprehensible and very human.
- •Hamlet (Branagh)Branagh's Hamlet is not for the faint hearted. At just over 4 hours, watching it is a SERIOUS time commitment. However, this is probably your only opportunity to see the entire text of Hamlet performed, so it's worth it! There are some uneven moments (I'm looking at you, ghost scene) but by and large, this is an excellent production. Branagh is in full command of his character, and the supporting cast is wonderful as well.
- •Hamlet (Doran)Guys, this Hamlet has David Tennant AND Patrick Stewart in it. If that doesn't convince you to watch it, I doubt anything I can say about it will. Tennant capitalizes on the dark humor of the role - he is twistedly funny and incredibly sharp. The order of events in this production will seem different to those who are familiar with the play, because Doran relies on the lesser used First Quarto - it brings a fresh perspective to a well known story.
- •Hamlet (Turner)I know that this is a filmed stage production, but this medium is doing so much to popularize Shakespeare - it's amazing! I saw this in a theater in Tucson, and it was packed out with people of all ages. Anyway, back to Hamlet. Cumberbatch is exceptional in the title role - he exhibits an emotional range that is exhausting in its intensity. I seriously don't know how he did 8 shows a week on stage. Brooke makes some brave choices as Ophelia as well.
- •Much Ado About Nothing (Rourke)Another stage-to-screen production, this one rides entirely on the casting of David Tennant as Benedick and Catherine Tate as Beatrice. This duo dance their way through the comedy of this play with enviable facility. I always loved Donna and the Doctor as companions, so it was fun to see these two actors reunited and showing off their comedic chops. The story takes a few odd turns from the original, but the central couple make it worth your time.
- •Much Ado About Nothing (Whedon)I went into this movie prepared to hate it (because of how much I love Branagh's version) but I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it! Joss Whedon is some sort of wizard.. I feel like a modern setting, black and white filming, and Shakespearian language shouldn't work together flawlessly, but they do! Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are excellent as Beatrice and Benedick, and Nathan Fillion quietly steals the show in his understated performance as Dogberry.
- •Richard III (Loncraine)Shakespeare's Richard III is an unlikable character at best, but Ian McKellen takes him over the line into the territory of the truly loathsome. His performance is magnificent, though; you really can't look away, especially when he addresses the camera directly. Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, go watch it. McKellen is a genius.
- •Romeo and Juliet (Luhrmann)So, here's a secret for you.. I actually sort of hate Romeo and Juliet. For some reason I never really bought into the love story, and so the whole play ends up being hard to swallow. That being said, I do enjoy this production. Somehow the vibrant setting gives credence to the overt drama of the two lovers. Plus, young Leo is so nice to look at!
- •Twelfth Night (Nunn)This film is quietly beautiful and quietly funny, which is why I think it got lost among the Shakespeare that came out in the late 90s. It's not as loud as Romeo and Juliet, nor as grand as Branagh's Hamlet (both of which came out within 12 months of this movie) but I love this play and I love this production. It's perfectly cast with actors who seem like they were born speaking Shakespeare's language - there are no weak points in this ensemble, and there are many surprises! Another must see.