The Tempest (Blu-ray)
I’m sure we can all agree that it takes a determined will and lots of concentration to absorb the plays of the great William Shakespeare. With that said, it’s tremendously easier to follow his elaborate stories when stage or film actors bring the words to life before you. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Julie Taymor’s modern twist on THE TEMPEST.
THE TEMPEST was Shakespeare’s final hurrah. It was his swan song and he poured comedy, love and revenge into the plot. Taymor chooses to make the main character a woman and Helen Mirren does a fabulous job transforming Prospero into Prospera. When her husband, the Duke of Milan, dies, Prospera’s younger brother convicts her of witchcraft and sends her away with her daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) to live on an island. She forces her rule on island native Caliban (Dijmon Hounsou) and finds aid in the sprite Ariel. After using her powers to conjure a storm, her brother and his entourage are ship wrecked onto her island. It is up to Prospera to settle the past in order to secure a future for her daughter.
Even with such an impressive cast, the acting was messy and chaotic. Taymor used a ton of dated looking CGI to give Ariel a restless feel. It was more annoying than impressive. Caliban’s makeup was out of this world. But Hounsou’s acting— particularly the “comedic scenes”— were completely unbelievable. Russell Brand played drunken Triculo. If you think it’s hard to understand him in his native tongue, try recognizing any of the Shakespearean English phrases. It’s next to impossible. Especially when he looks like the ghost of Mick Jagger with disgusting yellow teeth.
The setting (filmed in Hawaii) was visually gorgeous and completely realistic as a remote island in an imaginary fantasy world. Taymor utilized volcanic lava rock, red sands, cliffs overlooking the menacing ocean and dense forests to help advance her story. You could tell that the beautiful scenery was another character in the play. It’s as if Mother Nature should have received credit for making this film not an abysmal, confusing snooze fest.
Mirren is the glue that keeps the story from falling apart before our very eyes. Her Shakespearean dialect is technically impeccable. You believe her rage, her sadness and the love she has for her daughter. Jones plays the part of Miranda with a sweet tenderness, but she’s easily overshadowed by loud explosions, an angry sea, underdeveloped characters and a pretty creepy Ariel transformed crow.
My recommendation? Read the Cliffs Notes. This movie will more than likely NOT help you secure an A on your mid-term exam.
Video: 1080p High Definition 2.35:1: Nature took the spotlight in this film. It was extremely breathtaking. There were so many different facets on just one island in Hawaii. Too bad Taymor cheesed it up with low-tech CGI on so many occasions.
Audio: DTS-HD Master: It was loud. And chaotic. I wish the Dolby Digital audio had helped me understand what in the world Russell Brand was saying. Simply miserable.
Raising of the Tempest (1:06): Really? We needed another hour of this story? The only saving grace was the fact that none of the actors interviewed spoke with a Shakespearean accent. I actually understood the featurette (mini movie?) and the thought process behind what Taymor was trying to convey. She talked about her decision to make the main character a woman and how Helen Mirren was afraid to commit. There was a good portion dedicated to the Hawaiian island where the film was made. I found it interesting that so many people begged Taymor to make this film in “her style” yet the result was so bad.
Commentary with Julie Taymor: I’ll say this – Julie Taymor is passionate and believes in everything she puts on the screen.
Shakesperare Exerts Audio Commentary with Virginia Vaughan and Jonathan Bate: Perhaps I should have watched the film the first go around with these people explaining to me what was going on. That would have been more beneficial.
Russell Brand Rehearsal (4:32): Russell Brand is the most energetic person I’ve ever watched on screen. In this bit, Julie Taymor is “interviewing” him about his character. His ability to improv non-stop is actually quite impressive.
Julie & Cast: Inside the LA Rehearsals (13:34): Taymor is a hands-on director. This featurette goes behind the scenes with Helen Mirren, showing all of the hard work and direction that went into her performance.
Mistress Mine Music Video (3:22)