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407 of 423 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best filmed Tempest to date (though that's not saying much)
Let me say right off: I am a total Bardolator. I teach Shakespeare, I am obsessed with Shakespeare, I have read and seen all the plays, and my love affair with the Bard began with seeing a live performance of The Tempest in 1975. It was pure magic. I also love movies, and I believe that in the 21st century, filmed versions of Shakespeare's plays are probably the best...
Published on March 25, 2011 by J. C. Bloom

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother with the Blu Ray
This is such a visual movie, it is an affront to the audience that the Blu-Ray edition has no improvement on the DVD version to offer.

The movie is well directed, see other reviews for such criticism.

Just don't waste extra money expect full crisp 1080 definition images.

What a waste!
Published 12 months ago by Theodore Keer


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407 of 423 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best filmed Tempest to date (though that's not saying much), March 25, 2011
By 
J. C. Bloom (Phoenix, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Tempest [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Let me say right off: I am a total Bardolator. I teach Shakespeare, I am obsessed with Shakespeare, I have read and seen all the plays, and my love affair with the Bard began with seeing a live performance of The Tempest in 1975. It was pure magic. I also love movies, and I believe that in the 21st century, filmed versions of Shakespeare's plays are probably the best way to reach the widest audience. The sneers and sniffs of snobs aside, I am convinved that if Will were alive today, he'd be writing movie screenplays (or even television), NOT stage plays, which today are aimed at a narrow, elite, theatre-going audience.

As a literature professor who has been teaching The Tempest for a decade now, I have always been singularly bemused by the lack of a filmed version that really captures the magical spirit of the play. The old TV Richard Burton show is well-acted but silly, the BBC version has great actors but terrible, flat production values, Prospero's Books is brilliant but incomprehensible to all but those who know the play intimately, Derek Jarman's version is terribly dated and, despite being a good "film," just doesn't work as The Tempest, in my opinion. The other, "scholastic" releases are plagued by poor production and/or undistinguished acting. And I won't even bother with "adaptations" of the plot, such as Forbidden Planet or Cassavettes's Tempest.

Until this version, the only truly excellent version of The Tempest was the HBO animated one, but at 25 minutes, not much of Shakespeare's story remained intact.

Just last week I had the great pleasure of seeing Julie Taymor's The Tempest in London. It was absolutely amazing. The magic was there! The acting, for the most part, was brilliant. The script contained enough of the actual play's language that the minor tweakings to make it easier for contemporary audiences did not bother me a bit. The visuals were absolutely stunning. The movie was a joy from start to finish. I can't wait to see it again--repeatedly--to savor all the special moments over and again. My only regret is that my students will be unable to see it this year due to the late release date.

[REVISION NOTE: This year's students had the opportunity to see this version, and they overwhelmingly LOVED it. It brought the play to life for them. At last, I no longer have to convince them that The Tempest really IS a great play! 01/19/12]

If you love Shakespeare, and if you enjoy movie adaptations of the plays, DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mirren & Taymor should do more bard!, August 26, 2011
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This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
I saw this movie at the Chicago Film Festival last fall, introduced by Alan Cumming. While I'm a huge fan of Helen Mirren (and Alan), I was much less familiar with Julie Taymor, and not sure what I was in for.

If you're the same, then you can relax - this is brilliant, and I wish that Mirren & Taymor would do some other Shakespeare plays with Helen in the (strong, male) lead. Aside from a few minutes in the very beginning, where I thought the verisimilitude of the storm interfered with actually being able to understand what the actors were SAYING - there weren't any problems with either the language or being able to follow the plot.

Despite changing of the gender of the lead character, all the other elements we expect from Shakespeare remain intact: elevated, aristocratic figures bickering over their positions or inheritance, a love story featuring the younger generation of characters, a comedic subplot running alongside the primary plot, etc. And the acting was great top to bottom - those who weren't aware that RusselL Brand could actually act will be very pleasantly surprised, and we get the amazing performances we expected from the "known" names. Reeve Carney comes off least well, but that is the fault of the character having so little to do (and most of THAT being to look attractive and moon over the young woman).

All in all, I was very happy I was able to catch this in the cinema, and can hardly wait until I'm able to own a copy.
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75 of 80 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching for the Cast, January 20, 2011
If you've been following the travails of Julie Taymor's Spiderman production for Broadway, you will understand them a little better once you watch the opening shipwreck scene in her version of The Tempest. It is elaborate and detailed and far removed from the play itself, which of course opens with a brief onboard scene and then goes to Prospero and Miranda on shore for a long scene of explication of their exile on the island. The genius in Taymor's take on the Tempest is to give us Prospera instead of Prospero and, especially, to give us Helen Mirren as Prospera. She is wonderful as always, and convincing throughout. I loved her delivery of the Act 4, Scene 1 "Our revels now are ended" speech that captures both the play and life itself in a few short lines. The rest of the cast, Chris Cooper, Russell Brand et al, is uniformly excellent except the young actor who plays Ferdinand and who reads his lines like he is, well, reading his lines from a script held in his hands. Taymor takes liberties with Shakespeare's text (the credits read something like "written by Julie Taymor based on a text by William Shakespeare") and Prospera's epilogue is a song over the closing credits, but overall this Tempest is in spirit faithful to the play and well worth seeing.
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Julie Taymor did it again!, June 27, 2011
This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
The final Opus of William Shakespeare was carried to the big screen with that required vision, secure pulse and distinguished visuals without lacking the spirit of the play.

Helen Mirren is actually (Who can deny it?)one of the three best actresses in the world. She chews the whole show all the way through. But additionally the narrative rhtyhm never decays. Taymor (The Lion king and Titus, proves by far how domains Shakespeare's nerve) never abuses of the visual effects (dislike many of her colleagues).

And the outcome could not be more succesful. One of the best twenty films of the last year. No doubt it and go for it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I had been led to believe!, January 11, 2012
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This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
I'm a bit of a Shakespeare nut, owning the large majority of his plays on DVD, and often more than one version of the more popular plays. So I was eager for a new version of "The Tempest," and I wasn't able to catch this one in the theaters since it never played near where I live. Unfortunately nearly all of the reviews I had read of this version were decidedly mixed. Still, I wasn't going to let them keep me from seeing it. Well, I'm really glad I bought it because it's *much* better than the mixed reviews had led me to believe. Helen Mirren's excellent interpretation of "Prospero" as "Prospera" strikes me as quite natural -- that is, it doesn't come across as a trendy gender-switching gimmick -- and most of the other actors are superb as well. The "special effects," particularly with Ariel, are effectively handled. My only reservation, in fact, has to with Djimon Hounsou's performance as Caliban. He himself is, I believe, very good, but his strong accent sometimes makes it difficult to understand Caliban's speeches, which include some of the loveliest, most touching in the play. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend this DVD, which includes a terrific "making of" bonus extra.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of The Tempest, September 19, 2011
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This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
William Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST is probably his last play, written in 1610-11, and as such it has some of the more eloquent passages of soliloquies of any of his works. In the original version the story is set on a remote island, 'where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place, using illusion and skilful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the island Prospero's usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand.' Enter Julie Taymor and the imaginative play becomes even more so with her deft re-writing and direction and use of visual effects. In Taymor's versions 'the main character is now a woman named Prospera. Going back to the 16th or 17th century, women practicing the magical arts of alchemy were often convicted of witchcraft. In Taymor's version, Prospera is usurped by her brother and sent off with her four-year daughter on a ship. She ends up on an island; it's a tabula rasa: no society, so the mother figure becomes a father figure to Miranda. This leads to the power struggle and balance between Caliban and Prospera; a struggle not about brawn, but about intellect.'

Taymor and Shakespeare together make the important character of Ariel, Prospera's obedient sprite, a thing of magic: Ben Wishaw darts and floats and flies about apparently in the buff in a most ingenious fashion, delivering his lines in perfect Shakespearean cadence (his 'Full fathom five thy father lies... ' is exquisite). The transformation of Prospero to Prospera is magical with Helen Mirren once again proving that she is an incomparably fine actress (one great moment is her delivery of the lines 'Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.')

THE TEMPEST is an odd assortment of magic, treachery, young love, silly comedy, and odd goings on, but filled with a cast such as Taymor has selected it jumps alive with passion and glee. Caliban is Djimon Hounsou, Miranda is Felicity Jones, The King of Naples is David Strathairn and his son Ferdinand is young Reeve Carney, Prospera's brother Antonio is Chris Cooper and his sidekick Sebastian is Alan Cumming, and the two actors assigned to the buffoon roles are Albert Molina and Russell brand. Gonzalo is Tim Conti. This tightened Tempest works well though one wonders how much of the opening scenes' shipwreck (due to Prospera's calling upon the tempest) adds to the overall story. Yet in Taymor's vision it all comes together beautifully. The sung portions of the play and the musical sore in general are from the intelligent pen of Elliot Goldenthal. Recommended! Grady Harp, September 11
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good film of Shakespeare's omnibus play, July 12, 2013
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This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
I have seen only one other filmed version of "The Tempest", the BBC version, and I agree with others who say that in spite of a good cast lead by great Shakespearean actor, Michael Hordern, it is flat and visually uninteresting. That is a good place to start when speaking of this film, shot on two Hawaiian islands, including the volcanic regions on the big island. The scenery is gorgeous and perfectly befitting the play. The landscape tends to put the humans in proper perspective. Little.

The great background is enhanced by a touch of special effects, especially in the presentation of the spirit, Ariel. In the background piece, it was reported that Ben Whishaw, the actor who played Arial, would not be available when the company went to Hawaii. So, many of his parts are inserted by special effect, which has the benefit of giving him a very spectral quality.

If the special effects and the landscape do anything unfortunate, it is to shrink Prospera in comparison. Either though direction, camera work, or acting, Prospera the magician simply does not come off with the gravitas of Gandalf in LOTR (even though he rarely uses magic.) Prospera's effects are spectacular. It almost seems as if Prospera were played by an even slighter actress, the contrast would have been so great as to make a strong impression.

Caliban is Ariel's opposite, earthy in the extreme. In the BBC production, the Caliban character was covered with a stringy, weedy costume which tended to obscure his reactions to the camera. You can almost recognize Djimon Hounsou as the Nubian who played Russell Crowe's fellow gladiator in the movie of that name. Between his natural skin color and makeup, it appears he is caked with mud.

Caliban's two henchmen from the storm-tossed ship are two of Shakespeare's great fool characters, Trinculo and Stefano, played to perfection by Russell Brand and Alfred Molina. It just may be that this trio steals the show from Mirren. But Mirren gives a great performance, outdoing Hordern easily. As director Julie Taymor notes, it was simple to change the male character Prospero to Prospera, as it was no more than changing a few pronouns. Far, far easier, for example, than changing King Lear or Hamlet to a woman.

The love interest is played by Reeve Carney as Ferdinand, Alonso's son, who falls in love with Miranda, Prospera's daughter, played by felicity Jones. Like many of Shakespeare's romances, they tend to be less interesting than the fools and the perils of the plot. Neither seem accomplished actors, although they carry their parts reasonably well, in this, one of the Himalayas of English language theatre.

The four noblemen are played well by Chris Cooper as Antonio, Prospera's brother and Miranda's uncle, Alan Cumming as Sebastian - Alonso's brother, Tom Conti as Gonzalo, a counselor to Alonso, who gave aid to Prospera and Miranda
David Strathairn as Alonso, King of Naples, but I confess, Shakespeare has saved the best parts for the fools and the young lovers.

The overall effect makes this possibly the only Tempest worth watching.

One yearns to see what The Tempest would look like with Ian McKellen in the lead, after his long run as that most famous wizard, Gandalf.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helen Mirren's greatest role yet, January 15, 2012
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This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
I waited for this movie to come to Richmond, Va. I didn't, much to my dismay & disappointment. I invited both my daughters, who hadn't read or seen this movie, in any form, to watch it with me.
A spectacular, stunning display of wonder unfolded before our eyes. Even the proper use of the English language was not a barrier for my daughters, to understand this play of the master, Shakespeare. The music was otherworldly, transporting the spirit, as the story came alive, weaving its magic before our eyes.
For me, this will be the role of a lifetime for Helen Mirren. She brought to life the gifted sorceress. Her acting was bold and powerful, and at the right moments, soft & tender. Her magical spirit Uriel was played to perfection by Ben Whishaw.
See this movie! You won't be disappointed, but be struck by its beauty and power, to lift your spirit also to soar.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4-Star Entertainment, 5-Star Adaptation, December 25, 2011
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This review is from: The Tempest (DVD)
This was Shakespeare's final play, and it appears he broke with traditional play formats to develop underlying themes implied throughout his previous plays. As such, the plot and character development prevalent in earlier plays is minimized in The Tempest. That carries over into this film, making it initially difficult to follow. On the other hand, this film makes it obvious that a major character in The Tempest, the deserted island setting, cannot be captured on stage. This is more a screenplay than a stage play, and now we finally have an appropriate treatment of this essential work.
The casting is outstanding. We are presented with multiple characters in short order, but there is no problem telling them apart. The lead character Prospero is played as a female Prospera by Helen Mirren, who comes across as a Queen Lear, showing what could have happened in a sequel if Lear and daughter had been exiled rather than killed. All the other characters bring substantial stage cred to their roles. And then there's Russell Brand, who as in all his projects leaves the viewer wondering, "What the hell was that?"
Any Shakespeare afficionado needs to see this. In all his previous plays we have appreciated his insight into the deficiencies, tumultuous condition and redemptive efforts of mankind. But in this play we have Miranda, who has grown up outside human society, on first observing a cross-section of scoundrels, exclaiming, "O wonder. How many goodly creatures are there here. How beautious mankind is. O brave new world that has such people in it." This play is an exposition of, within the magic of our own supressed powers, what we have lost but may rediscover.
Now, if Director Taymor would just hook up with Ms. Mirren again and do Queen Lear ...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Shakespeare fan but extremely well done..., October 16, 2011
This review is from: The Tempest [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
As my title states, I am not a William Shakespeare fan, sorry but I'm not. Is what it is... However I enjoyed this "version" of what is (controversially) considered his last play. There are some character changes such as Prospero being female in this version.

Look, I will admit that I had the subtitles on -why? Though I do that with movies I've viewed over and over, the reason is I could not catch all the nuances without reading along with the characters. The language is 17th century English as it was thought to have been written in 1610 or 1611 -so it is hard to follow for those of us who are used to the bastardized English we speak today. I will also admit I was lost on a few things that were spoken just because I am not used to the expressiveness of the language used in the play and this film.

Visually it's stunning -extremely well filmed -the special effects do not hinder the movie as you really do not notice them as effects but as part of the story and plot.

If you love Shakespeare or literature in general you will enjoy this re-visioned version of his play.
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The Tempest
The Tempest by Julie Taymor (DVD - 2011)
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