Blu-ray Review: Julie Taymor's THE TEMPEST - Style triumphs over substance

I had the chance to watch Julie Taymor's adaptation of Shakespeare's last play, The Tempest. The film stars Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Ben Wishaw, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, David Strathairn and Reeve Carney.

It is an explosion of color and CGI effects that looks phenomenal in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio). Where it falls short is it's substance. If you are a fan of Shakespeare, and are familiar with his plays, then this movie will be right up your alley. For me, this was nothing more than Taymor going overboard with visuals. This marks the second Taymor film adapted from a Shakespearean play, the first being Titus


A big-screen adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" that, in a gender-defying twist, will see Helen Mirren reigning over the magical island. Although the play centers on Prospero, an exiled duke-turned-sorcerer, Taymor -- who likes to take an experimental approach to her stage and film projects -- has rechristened the lead character Prospera so that Mirren can take on the role. Shakespeare's play mixes romance with fraternal politics and the supernatural. As revised for the screen, it will center around Prospera, her daughter Miranda (Jones) and a shipwrecked crew full of Prospera's enemies.

Drama, romance, fantasy and a small dash of comedy added to the story's supernatural and magical elements give this film an intriguing blend of genres. I am usually a fan of these genres, but THE TEMPEST was not for me. The music was lackluster in my opinion. A definite downgrade from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I did however like a number of aspects about the film. 

Helen Mirren is consistently a commanding presence on screen, and the same can be said of her in the role of Prospera. There are a host of other actors that turn in solid performances, but it is difficult to really get a grasp of their characters dimension. There is only so many ways that you can deliver Shakespeare's lines. My personal favorite Shakespearean adaptation is Baz Luhrmann's ROMEO + JULIET. It was interesting to see Russell Brand in this type of role, but he was in no way a standout as the standout. 

The CGI effects are what really take this Blu-ray over the top. This is the type of film that Blu-rays are made for, unfortunately the visual effects are rather dull at times. There are some interesting moments with the Tempest istelf, but the majority of the film would be lifeless without the infusion of colors. the costuming and makeup are superb. I especially liked Caliban's makeup. It had to have taken hours in the makeup chair to get that makeup on just right. 

In Conclusion:

This is not my favorite Julie Taymor film to date. Fans of Shakespeare and theater students will love this film. It has elements of to enjoy, but is definitely not a mainstream film for regular movie goers

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