WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In a gender-switch on William Shakespeare’s play, THE TEMPEST, sorcereress Prospera (Helen Mirren) is confined to a mystical island with her daughter, Miranda (Felicity Jones). In a twist of fate, the very men who condemned Prospera are shipwrecked onto the island, enabling Prospera to exact her vengeance. Soon, the shipwrecked men, along with the island’s sole indigenous inhabitant, turned slave Caliban (Djmon Hounsou) hatch a plot of their own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
THE TEMPEST is the film director Julie Taymor managed to make while in the midst of hatching her tortured Broadway production, SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK. All but ignored when it hit theaters last year, THE TEMPEST has finally made its way to Blu-ray. Being a Taymor film, it’s not a huge surprise that the film is visually striking, with her using THE TEMPEST in ways the Bard couldn’t possibly imagine. This, coupled with Eliot Goldenthal’s incredible score, make THE TEMPEST a bit more exciting than your typical, run-of-the-mill Shakespearian adaptation.
However, THE TEMPEST pales in comparison to her earlier Shakespeare adaptation, TITUS, which was an incredible film. That film took the Bard to a modernized version of Rome, similar to way Ralph Fiennes attempts with his new CORIOLANUS, while the TEMPEST is far more conventional- gender-switch of Prospero/Prospera aside.
In fact, the gender switch is essentially a non-issue, as Helen Mirren is such an accomplished Shakespearian performer that it never seems gimmicky. For the most part, the rest of the cast is as able as Mirren, although Russell Brand’s manic performance as Trinculo will put off some, although it's VERY faithful to Shakespeare's verse. Other than Mirren, the show is stolen by Hounsou, as the beast-like Caliban, who’s enslaved by the imperious Prospera.
The extras include two commentary tracks , one with Taymor, the other with a gang of Shakespearian scholars. Raising THE TEMPEST is a sixty-minute, fairly comprehensive making-of, shot and presented in full 1080p. There’s also lots of Rehearsal B-roll including some mugging by Russell Brand. Less impressive is the Mistress Mine music video, which re-imagines Shakespeare’s versus as an emo pop-song, sung by Reeve Carney, who also sing it in the film. Meh- I wasn’t so keen on this. There’s also some trailers .
Whether or not you’ll enjoy THE TEMPEST depends on two things- one, whether you enjoy watching Shakespearian adaptations, and two- whether you’re a Taymor fan. If, and ONLY if, the answer is yes to both, there’s a lot to be gained out of watching THE TEMPEST.