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Coriolanus Reviews

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FiLmCrAzY
FiLmCrAzY

Super Reviewer

March 27, 2012
Fiennes gives an explosive performance however the movie leaves a bitter taste. Modern day view of a Shakespearean play which i felt didn't really work. Visually stunning but fails where it actually matters.
hunterjt13
hunterjt13

Super Reviewer

April 18, 2013
An anti-democratic Roman general battles a rival general and later creates a public relations nightmare.
It's been almost two decades since I've seen or read Shakespeare's Coriolanus, so it's difficult to remember how the film compares to the original material. What I can say is that I got more out of the film than I remember getting out of the play.
Ralph Fiennes's direction is flawless. In Coriolanus he creates a film first and a Shakespeare film second. With short scenes, long establishing shots, and pregnant pauses between conversations and monologues, Fiennes uses all the techniques germane to film and relies on the rich text when its most needed; his balance of film and Shakespeare's words is better than most other adaptations.
Fiennes's vision of Coriolanus fits our time and politics. Martius's open contempt of the proletariat contrasts with the successful patricians who, sharing his contempt, lie to the people to ingratiate themselves. Thus, Coriolanus becomes about how people in power manipulate the masses.
Fiennes gives a masterful performance, at times gritty and murderous and at other times vulnerable and weepy. Gerard Butler keeps up, and that's the best I can say while seasoned veteran Vanessa Redgrave hits her role out of the park as one of the most bad-ass Shakespearean mothers.
Overall, Coriolanus is a tour de force for Ralph Fiennes, a too-often underrated actor and director.
MANUGINO
MANUGINO

Super Reviewer

November 27, 2012
Nature Teaches Beasts to Know Their Friends

Decent Shakesperian based movie! Shakespeare's dramas may well be set up in a contemporary set, because the content is timeless. Here the screenplay drama is performed in its original text. The old lines sometimes are in conflict with the modern outfit, but you are quickly caught back to the drama by the violent intrigues and you become strongly affected by the deep conflicts between power and love. The war scenes are realistic and bloody. It is exciting and the outcome uncertain for the uninitiated. Ralph Fiennes both directs and plays the title role and succeeds well. He has got a star team both in front and behind the camera. The film photo by Barry Ackroyd is brilliant. The set and costumes are next to perfection. The 74-year-old Vanessa Redgrave portrays Coriolanus' mother, Volumnia, powerful and convincing. Gerard Butler as the rebel leader acts with strong charisma and realism. Additional casting is also very good. Coriolanus is a tense and violent political wartime thriller which makes Shakespeare not only accessible but utterly captivating. A credible directorial debut from one of the industry's finest working actors.

The citizens of Rome are hungry. Coriolanus, the hero of Rome, a great soldier and a man of inflexible self-belief despises the people. His extreme views ignite a mass riot. Rome is bloody. Manipulated and out-maneuvered by politicians and even his own mother Volumnia, Coriolanus is banished from Rome. He offers his life or his services to his sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius.
Al S

Super Reviewer

March 3, 2012
It`s Shakespeare meets The Hurt Locker. A tremendously entertaining and electrifying film. A stylish, lean, muscular and gripping modern drama that packs serious and intense punch of a hard-edge action-thriller. An unforgettable and powerful movie. A triumphant masterwork from Director-Star, Ralph Fiennes, he proves to be an extraordinary director. A fiery and rich directional debut. Fiennes gives an astonishing and passionate performance, his best yet. Gerard Butler is outstanding, one of his best performances so far. Butler and Fiennes have never been better, their performances are just simply a tour de force. The performances are truly top-notch from it`s amazing cast. Jessica Chastain is wonderful. Vanessa Redgrave is at her best. Brain Cox and James Nesbitt are excellent. A heart-pounding and exhilarating movie packed with explosive action and the breathtaking drama of Shakespeare`s words. It`s wickedly well-crafted and superbly performed film. A gorgeous, dark and bloody great movie. I loved this movie.
Christian C

Super Reviewer

October 27, 2012
Not the most impressive performances by Fiennes or Butler. Brian Cox is fantastic, however. Vanessa Redgrave seems like she's just getting old. Effective modernized setting, but as with Baroque operas, the characters' motivations are too idealized and dated to be compelling.
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

October 9, 2011
Full disclosure: I've never read the play this is based on. In fact, I had never heard of this "lesser" Shakespeare until I saw the trailer. And honestly, the trailer is the primary reason I wanted to see the movie. It looked intriguing, and I was curious to see how Fiennes would do in his debut as a director.

Well, those might not be the best reasons for seeing a movie, because it is shallow, but I don't care. I stuck to my guns, and finally saw it....and I'm glad I did.

Set in an alternate version of contemporary times, this is the story of a general named Caius Martius from a place that calls itself Rome who is simultaneously revered and feared. He finds himself at odds with his city and its people after his bid for a seat on the Consul backfires after he goes off on a tirade that insults the common people. There's more to it of course, with lots of manipulations, scheming, and political power plays, but essentially what happens is that Caius Martius,(who is given the title Coriolanus after he takes a city from his mortal enemy's territory) finds himself an exile of Rome, and is forced to join forces with his mortal enemy to get revenge on Rome.

The original work by Shakespeare might take place in Ancient Roman times, but the wonderful thing about the Bard is that his work, minus the specifics, is very timeless and can be relevant in basically any era. The movie is supposed to be in a contemporary alternate Rome, but it seemed more like Serbia and the military actions that took place there during the 1990s. Of course, that could just be from the fact that the movie was shot on location in Belgrade.

The setting and time are updated, but the original language is unchanged. This can be disorienting for people not used to the Elizabethan style, but it mostly works pretty well. Some of the dialogue does stick out and seem a tad out of place since the story is contemporized, but overall, this is a solid adaptation with some great themes concerning honor, revenge, and political machinations.

You could call this a war film, especially due to the first like 45 minutes, but in the end this is just a good old fashioned revenge story, and there's not a thing in the world wrong with that. Some of this is pretty gritty, bloody, and grim, but it is awesome. Some of the shaky cam during the action scenes is mildly annoying, and I'm not sure that it use was the best decision, but thankfully the editing keeps things from being completely unwatchable.

Fiennes does a great job in the lead role. He's intense, brooding, and when things get real, you can just tell some serious business is about to go down. I love Gerard Butler, and it's cool seeing him here as Coriolanus's sworn foe, but he's actually a little underwhelming here, and there's not as much of him as I was hoping for. He is decent though. Along with them, the film does have a solid supporting cast who all do really good jobs, especially Brian Cox, and most of all Vanessa Redgrave.

All in all, the play might be lesser Shakespeare (in terms of popularity and quality), but this is a stirring and gripping film. Definitely give it a chance. Fiennes is a little rusty as a director, but I think this could nevertheless be the great beginning for him as a man behind the camera.
Phil H

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2012
So I saw the poster for this film with Fiennes being all bald and blooded seemingly going for a Brando 'Apocalypse Now' look and I was intrigued.

I didn't really know of this play by a certain famous English playwrite but kinda got the impression it may have been pumped up with action and fighting for the modern era. The poster along with write ups saying the story had been updated tempted me greatly.

First thoughts of course are the two main leads played by Fiennes and Butler, surely this would have some kick assery involved? surely 'King Leonidas' would be storming around Rome screaming at folk
through his Scottish facial hair as he gunned them down in a hail of bullets and claret? well no.

This is in fact the full Shakespearean play (as far as I know) simply updated to modern times. So its modern day Rome with modern SWAT team-like soldiers for Fiennes whilst Butler leads an army of terrorist-like rebels against Rome, the media run amok in the middle. Some sections play out like real time media coverage but its mostly dialog between characters on sets/locations with the full verbal force of Williams writings.
There is no real added action or violence bar one sequence near the start, a bit of gun fire, a small grapple between Fiennes and Butler. Most of the story is hinted at through news coverage.

So Fiennes hasn't made this into a testosterone filled fight flick but stuck to the pure formula of Shakespeare. All that has been done is set the play within our present day with everything in the play updated to how we would see it. He could of done it the other way also and made a totally different film but keeping the essence ( eg.'Romeo + Juliet') which could of worked but respect to his decision.

Honestly this really wasn't my cup of tea, there is nothing wrong with the film, the acting is superb from all, it bewilders and amazes me they manage to learn the lines! Unless you know the play and follow the dialog you may find yourself lost haha the plot is relatively easy to follow but I had no clue what the characters were saying most of the time, its mainly guess work and body reactions I looked out for hehe.

Yep as I mentioned before its all the original bards writings and sayings throughout so get your Shakespearean to English dictionaries out folks. Fans of Shakespeare will enjoy I'm sure, how can you not enjoy Fiennes in full flow? personally I didn't like the modern day setting it just didn't look or feel right for me, ancient Rome will always look/feel better in my opinion. Also the old English Renaissance script is too much too swallow after about 10 minutes.

Solid stuff, cannot fault the acting skills involved to bring the play/story to life but I feel it serves more as an educational piece for students or lesson for bidding thespians. Without sounding too sacrilegious there is a good storyline here which could easily be made into a more 'fun' film for the masses, if you get me (Baz Luhrmann already proved this) but I digress again.

A well performed 'piece' if you will that will satisfy the right audience.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

June 11, 2012
Many have said that Ralph Fiennes was quite brave to set his version of Coriolanus in a contemporary setting. I personally think it was only a matter of time before someone did, it seems to be the logical progression of the Bards work and also he knows his stuff, I think it was always a safe bet. So why have I only given it 3 1/2 stars, well I think the brave part of the film is Fiennes directing as well as playing the lead role. I'm afraid the direction lets it down massively in my opinion, the shaky camera during the war films looked more like it was trying to hide the lack of convincing war action rather than show the chaos of combat and for the rest of the film the editing and composition are pretty amateur. However, like all good plays, it is all about the performances and this he got right. Fiennes, Butler, Cox and Redgrave are unsurprisingly brilliant. Seeing James Nesbitt on the big screen was a pleasure and a long time over due. I really like Jessica Chastain but she was totally wasted here, I also thought the supporting cast of 'Citizens' let the film down a little but the casting of Jon Snow as 'News Anchor' was inspired and a great surprise - he's quite good eh! Overall it was a very good film, it just seem to lack a certain punch. It obviously had a reasonably good budget but at times it looked like it was done on a shoe-string, a gallant first effort but ever-so slightly misses the mark.
Mark W

Super Reviewer

August 17, 2011
As a personal rule, I don't watch adaptations of William Shakespeare's works unless I've read the play beforehand. I like to have a frame of reference when it comes to the bard but in this case, I capitulated and couldn't resist putting the film off any longer. I'll always wish that I had found the time but that doesn't diminish the overall quality or power of this interpretation from first time director Ralph Fiennes.
In a war ravished modern state calling itself Rome, where the people and the military have taken to the streets, hero General Caius Martius (Ralph Fiennes) is set to become the leader of the republic. Opponents across the political scale have other ideas though and attempt to orchestrate his downfall and banishment. Once exiled, the furious General forms an alliance with former nemesis Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) and returns home, intent on taking revenge on the city that has scorned him.
Despite the modern alternative setting that Fiennes chooses for his adaptation, he still manages to retain the feel of a play. Some scenes reflect a classic BBC dramatisation and he employs some high quality actors to provide the goods. The classically trained actress Vanessa Redgrave is the most comfortable amongst the ensemble as the influential matriarch Volumunia. She delivers her lines with absolute confidence and such an understanding of Shakespeare's iambic pentameter. She's not alone though; for as little time as they get, the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain delivers a reserved performance as Corialanus' disconsolate wife Virgilia and Gerard Butler proves that his talents lie beyond mere rom-com's and mindless action movies as Aufidius, the rebel leader of the Volscian army. Butler's fellow Scotsman Brian Cox also shows some real presence in one of his better roles of recent years as the Roman senator Menenius. But as the tortured and unrelenting protagonist Caius Martius Coriolanus, it's Fiennes that takes centre stage, chewing it up in the process and delivering an intense and ferocious performance. It's often forgotten how good an actor Fiennes really is but this is proof, once again, that given some meaty material, he can really sink his teeth into it. Shakespeare's works tend to be all about the prose and the performers and as much as this film delivers on that front, it also delivers an effective modern setting with surprisingly brilliant action set-pieces. There is a real intensity to the politics involved and Fiennes wisely chooses to stick with the original material. It's hard to balance Shakespeare's writing's in a contemporary way and for the most part, it works impressively. However, as the original play is based on a supposed Roman general during the 5th century BC, there are regular references to the common beliefs of this time. "The gods" is an often used piece of dialogue that doesn't quite fit with the chosen setting and whenever the actors deliver lines with such, it jars slightly. The rest of the film though, is a towering and mesmerising take on the machinations and intrigue of political power.
As always with Shakespeare, it takes a while to tune your ear but the visuals are so effective and the performances so good, that it brings one of his lesser known tragedies, comfortably, to a wider audience. It also heralds the arrival of exemplary actor Ralph Fiennes as an exemplary new director.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
LorenzoVonMatterhorn

Super Reviewer

January 26, 2012
"Nature Teaches Beasts to Know Their Friends"

A banished hero of Rome allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.

REVIEW
Shakespeare's tragedy, Coriolanus, directed by Ralph Fiennes, has been successfully translated to the screen, just as Richard III (1995) was by Richard Loncraine. Both productions shift the scene to modern times, and despite my prejudice about tinkering with the Bard, I liked both, in part because Fiennes is a fine Coriolanus and Ian McKellen a better than fine Richard. It's modern Rome, besieged by angry citizens whose leader is Gerard Butler's Aufidius, longtime enemy of Coriolanus. When the haughty, anti-commoner Coriolanus is banished from Rome, he joins up with his old enemy to turn on Rome.

It seems like a perfect alliance until Coriolanus's formidable mother, Volumnia, played by Vanessa Redgrave, and his wife, VIrgilia, played by Jessica Chastain, confront him. To see the four leads on the screen, along with the reliable Brian Cox as Menenius, is to witness the best of cinema acting, although Redgrave dominates as she pleads, cajoles, and finesses her son to speak gently to the commoners and to compromise the siege. There is something static about the filming, perhaps because Fiennes sees it in its Shakespearean form and himself as a theatrical performer. "Static" even though Fiennes relies on MTV-like quick cuts to enhance the action and perhaps mitigate the elegant prose for regular film goers.

The contemporary thematic parallels with the play are obvious: the puzzle that still is the Balkans, or Iraq and Iran for that matter, with families pitted against each other, the citizenry versus the military, and power another deal away. But the play's the thing, and no matter how much gifted director and adapter play with the original, Shakespeare is always there with stunning dialogue, deep characterization, and humanity still crazy after all these years.
Josh M

Super Reviewer

January 25, 2012
Ralph Fiennes' Coriolanus is one of a small handful of fresh and successful filmed Shakespeare. It's a very dark and cold tale to begin with and there aren't many characters to love or soliloquies that are quoted and cherished, so it's not for everybody.

Fiennes has organically transplanted the story in to the modern mass media world, and vaguely made a 'Rome' out of modern day Serbia and it feels right. The expositional and Greek chorus stuff is covered by talking CNN type heads instead of sentries and townspeople and it works very well. It's similar to the Ethan Hawke contemporary Hamlet from the nineties as well as the Baz Luhrman Romeo and Juliet that makes the contemporary atmosphere work to the favor of the story. The film is full of action and violence and it's shot with verve.

The entire cast is flawless, Fiennes plays an unsympathetic Coriolanus with restraint and anger (very similar to his Schindler's list Nazi). Vanessa Redgrave as his militaristic mother Volumnia gives her most commanding and mesmerizing performance in a decade, she is spectacular. Scottish action superstar Gerard Butler was a revelation as rival warrior Aufidius, he handles the iambic pentameter beautifully and he can match Fiennes blow for blow in screen presence. Jessica Chastain acquits herself well as Fiennes long suffering wife.

The film does honor to Shakespeare, and is true to the play. However, it's one of Shakespeare's least appealing plays to a wide audience. It's about politics, the will of the people, misuse of power, all told with a uncompromising bleakness. Twelfth Night has more laughs and poetry. Heck, King Lear has more laughs than this one. And Julie Taymor's Titus has more visual kick. But on the filmed Shakespeare top ten films list, this one might just squeak in.
boxman
boxman

Super Reviewer

January 4, 2012
William Shakespeare's little-known play has a surprising amount of cultural relevance: attacks on the border, suspension of civil liberties, political scheming, populist uprisings and riots, and a military elite arguing against the principles of appealing to the uneducated, mob-ruled masses. Plus Ralph Fiennes, taking on the hat of director for the first time, sets the play in modern-day. It seems like a struggle between Scotland and England, judging from the two mortal enemies, Coriolanus (Fiennes) and Tulius Aufidus (Gerard Butler). So it's the Scotland/England struggle, termed ancient Rome, but set in what looks like the war-ravaged Balkans. Hey, at least Fiennes gets to have a nose in this film. The Shakespearean verbiage is certainly beautiful to hear, especially coming from the mouths of excellent thespians, notably Fiennes, Brian Cox, and Vanessa Redgrave. The actors achieve that synergetic level of excellence where it feels like they were always meant for the parts. Butler acquits himself well though his character sort of disappears unless needed by the plot. The elements that work best reside in Coriolanus' refusal to play the game of political optics, neither serving a crowd of ignorant peasants he feels should remain out of the political process or the wily, double-crossing, self-serving politicians inflaming populist unrest. The movie sets itself up for some serious wrath to befall Rome, and besides the Greeks (and Koreans), nobody does revenge like this guy Shakespeare. We're chomping at the bit for a cataclysm of death, but then the plot just sort of skips to a hasty conclusion, ditching the wrath. It makes you realize that, except for the intriguing title character, this isn't one of the bard's better plays. The characters are hard to empathize with, their conflicts too repetitive without deeper insight, and an ending that would be best described as a bit of a rush job. Still, even Shakespeare's lesser work towers above most writers' best material. Fiennes does a fine job as director, choosing lots of disorienting close-ups to communicate the rage of his character. Coriolanus is an interesting stab at something more, it's just that sometimes it swings and misses.

Nste's Grade: B
366weirdmovies
366weirdmovies

Super Reviewer

December 19, 2011
Coriolanus becomes a Roman war hero, then is pushed to become consul but isinstead banished for his anti-plebian rhetoric; he joins up with the Roman's enemies and leads an army against the city. Suprisingly, this is the only feature film treatment to date of this second tier Shakespeare play. Ralph Fiennes gives a proud and dangerous performance in the lead role. The decision to update the action to modern times while leaving the text the same doesn't automatically create contemporary relevance, but it does elicit some chuckles due to the use of CNN-style news updates and panel discussions seen throughout.
Debbie E

Super Reviewer

October 29, 2011
Redgrave. Brilliant. 'Mommy Dearest' doesn' t come close! Missing 5th star is for the overzealous gore and often unintelligible language.
Kevin M

Super Reviewer

March 22, 2012
Shakespearean trash. How anyone can possibly understand even parts of the dialogue is beyond me. It's like watching a movie in a different language. Fiennes made the mistake of making this movie in a modern setting with old fashioned Shakespearean English and it absolutely murders the movie. Watching this movie felt like homework, like a chore. Not enjoyable at all. Everything looks good including the cast of characters, but the dialogue seems to be written specifically for the most hardcore Shakespeare fans. I don't know why anyone would like Shakespeare, but apparently the critics did. They can have it.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 12, 2012
"Coriolanus" starts with the native Romans getting restless about food shortages. General Martius(Ralph Fiennes, who also directs) suspends civil liberties in response, even putting in a personal appearance before his troops put in the full beatdown. Meanwhile, an external threat materializes in neighboring Volscia in the person of Aufidius(Gerard Butler), Martius' old enemy. While Martius is taking care of that problem and earning himself a promotion in the process, Senator Menenius(Brian Cox) pays a visit to Martius' mother(Vanessa Redgrave) and wife(Jessica Chastain).

Even though it may at first seem like a return to the good old days when generals led their troops into battle, with this production of "Coriolanus," Ralph Fiennes does an excellent job of bringing Shakespeare kicking and screaming to relevance in the present day that goes beyond the eponymous character running afoul of Clausterwitz's famous dictum that "War is the continuation of policy by other means." Filming in a former war zone helps, as the opening protests bring to mind recent similar protests in Europe(note the faces, even though Shakespeare was never one for the common person) but the movie loses some of its punch as it goes on. Even then, the story's momentum continues through its memorable finale, thanks in large part to the superb performances from Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes.
themoviewaffler.com
themoviewaffler.com

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2012
The concept of staying faithful to a Shakespearean text is antithetic to film-making yet most film-makers insist on such reverence when tackling the bard. The language in Shakespeare's work is indeed beautiful but it's the stories themselves that form his legacy. If film-makers focused on just adapting the stories well rather than pedantically quoting the dialogue then Shakespeare's IMDB page would read a lot better.
All the classics have been taken already so Fiennes is stuck with one of the lesser known of the writer's plays, the tale of an excommunicated Roman General who returns for revenge. The reason we haven't seen this on screen before is because it's simply not a very good story, there's little dramatic meat here. Fiennes relocates it to an alternate Rome which resembles the contemporary Balkans and shoots it like a "Call Of Duty" video game. Personally I would have found the original setting of ancient Rome more visually interesting.
Despite the presence of Gerard Butler the well-assembled cast are superb, Redgrave especially as Fiennes' psychotic mother. Chastain has given more great performances in the last year alone than most actresses will in a lifetime and here she performs with a confidence that is often lacking in American thesps when tackling this material.
Many actors have turned their hand to directing and been found lacking, Fiennes is but the latest.
John B

Super Reviewer

January 19, 2012
Condemned by viewers but praised by critics, Coriolanus is a success in my books. Fiennes takes the little performed Shakespearean epic and puts in modern times with great impact. I have removed half a star however for his yelps. No one is more annoying in screaming with angst than Fiennes and here we have examples of no less than three yelps.
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