Bottom Line: Deserves the first honest listing on TV’s 1000 Ways to Die.
Directed by: Julie Taymor
Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Felicity Jones, Helen Mirren, Russell Brand
It seems Julie Taymor is one of those little-known directors who relies on the philosophy that she can make good money from directing (and, in this case, writing) films based on the works of more famous people, along with taking the majority of the plot away. The trick worked phenomenally in 2007 with ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, a musical adaptation of the works of the Beatles. Now Taymor has decided to augment the nostalgia minus three centuries, and the result is easily comparable to a gallon of vomit.
The part of THE TEMPEST that goes too far beyond awful is its number of asinine characters. Of all the great I’ve heard about Shakespeare, I’m convinced this was the fault of the screenwriter rather than the bard himself. Mind you, the gender change of the main character in order to offer Helen Mirren a role, does not even matter when looking at the rest of the ensemble. Among the most obnoxious characters are Trinculo (Russell Brand) and Caliban (Djimon Hounsou). Russell Brand, for whatever reason, seems to find screaming at the sky a decent imitation of a Shakespearean soliloquy. It comes across, instead, as an impression of a 16th century spin-off of popular video game The Sims. Djimon Hounsou is an instant reminder of Gollum from the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, prancing around oddly, dressed in almost nothing, speaking more cryptically than Shakespeare himself.
The music is the next worst thing. In what world does it make sense to set a film taking place in the 16th century, against a soundtrack filled with both violin music and rock music? Since when have Shakespeare’s characters broken into somber song? The idea to loosely adapt Shakespeare is a great one, if unoriginal, but THE TEMPEST adapted so loosely that it fell apart into pieces. Shakespeare did more than merely roll over in his grave. The film was released in December of 2010; I bet he’s still busy slapping himself in the face. That said, it’s no wonder such a film couldn’t even gross $400,000 during its theatrical release, even if every one of its promotional posters bore a name as huge as Helen Mirren.