Coriolanus Blu-ray Review

Through all my English, Playwriting, Literature and Theater courses between high school and college, I’ve become moderately knowledgeable in Shakespearian work.  And by knowledgeable, I mean I recognize the titles.  CORIOLANUS is definitely one of the less popular William Shakespeare works but Ralph Fiennes in his directorial debut masterfully transitions the famous writer’s work into a present day setting for the big screen.

Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler in Coriolanus

A feared and ruthless general Caius Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes) continually survives and wins battles for his country Rome all while arrogantly leading and cruely withholding from his people.  Groomed by his mother Volumnia (Vanessa Redgrave) and a shrew partisan Meneius (Brian Cox) to be a political leader for Rome, Coriolanus refuses to acknowledge and accept the demands of the common people.  When his anger and disgust for the poor is publicized he is immediately banished from the country he has heroically protected.  Swearing vengeance on Rome, Coriolanus joins forces with his greatest and most hated enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler).

Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler in Coriolanus

The performances from all the actors involved are among one of the best ensemble pieces of the year.  As usual Fiennes (HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS) commands the screen radiating power and charisma.  Vanessa Redgrave (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE) pours her heart into the role as Coriolanus’ closest ally and mother.  Jessica Chastain (THE HELP) and young Harry Fenn do a nice job in their small rolls as Coriolanus’ wife and son.  Gerard Butler (MACHINE GUN PREACHER) turns in another terrific performance as a leader of the opposition army and should definitely stick to these kind of roles rather than the romantic comedic ones. There is something strangely majestic about the language of Shakespeare that emotes raw passion and intensity from actors.

Gerard Butler in Coriolanus

John Logan does an excellent job adapting the script to a modern day screenplay.  But I couldn’t help the feeling we were jumping important moments that showed the progression of the story rather than simply telling it within the dialogue.  I know this is a constant theme in Shakespeare plays as he discusses past actions and scenarios off stage because it’s just too much production, but I’ve always felt actions speak louder than words.

Ralph Fiennes, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain in Coriolanus

Much like Baz Lurhman’s ROMEO AND JULIET (The one with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes) CORIOLANUS is a modern day Shakepeare work with the same beautiful somewhat incomprehensible language for which Shakespeare is known.  Unfortunately other than a bit of a battle scene at the beginning (which Fiennes admits was written off stage in the original play), there isn’t a whole lot of action happening.  Instead we get long drawn out conversations and monologues that while exquisitely performed, fail to retain much attention.  However, I’m sure most Shakespeare fanatics will enjoy CORIOLANUS and find it a worthy add to their collection.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video:  (1080p, 2.35:1) Supposedly the grainy look was on purpose to give the film a sort of grit but I found the VHS look of the film a bit distracting.

Audio:  (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)  A wonderful sound that is incredibly important when trying to listen to Shakespearian dialogue.

Commentary by Director/Actor Ralph Fiennes: Fiennes gives a pretty dry commentary basically as if he is reading all the camera directions from the script.

The Making of Coriolanus (5:38):  A quick featurette with interviews from the cast.

OVERALL 3
VERDICT:
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