The Tempest

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This new movie is pretty middle of the road. Director Julie Taymor has produced a smooth and clean adaption of what may be Shakespeare’s last comedy. It’s certainly not as exciting as “Titus”, her 1999 production of one of Shakespeare’s less produced plays. Helen Mirren, as Prospera, is excellent but not exciting. This new movie release is easy, and has lots of music and beautiful dialogue, not to mention special effects. There are a lot in the audience who are going to like it better than a more daring version, which will be reflected in new movie reviews, and this will cause the movie to do well at the box office.
Upcoming movie, “The Tempest”, is reminiscent of a 1979 Derek Jarman play called “Starry Weather” in which he attempted to mesh Shakespeare with cinematic speech. This is a whole different way of approaching “The Tempest” than Taymor’s approach. Because Taymor is so well known for her invention in theater, from “The Lion King” to “Across the Universe”, this one of the winter’s new movie releases is going to look as if she really hasn’t put much effort into the production.

Prospera and her daughter Miranda, played by Felicity Jones, live in exile on an enchanted island since Prospera’s brother, Antonio, played by Chris Cooper, took her kingdom and became the Duke of Milan. Prospera has two slaves, Caliban, played by Djimon Housou, who’s a bit of a brute, and Ariel, played by Ben Whishaw, who’s a wind sprite and a romantic.
Prospera is a sorceress of great power: she can magically calm a raging sea. She creates a storm that brings about a shipwreck that lands her brother, Antonio, the King of Naples, Alsonso, played by David Straithairn, and Alsonso’s brother Sebastian, played foppishly by Alan Cumming.
The island is also magical and “The Tempest” was filmed on Hawaiian locations. Unfortunately the cinematography of Stuart Dryburgh retains a little bit too much Hawaiian sun and not enough of the mystery of “The Tempest.”
Kyle Cooper’s visual effects accentuate the marvelous fantasies of the movie. Most of the fantasies involve Ariel. He speeds delicately through the sky, leaving a swish of afterimages and he also helps channel the forces of nature for Prospera. In one scene he’s turned into a Harpy and torments the silly nobels. He is promised his freedom as a reward for his help.

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