Richard III - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Richard III Reviews

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February 21, 2013
I'd love to see this again.
½ February 20, 2013
Madness,envy,greed and traition are the ingredents of an remarkable shakesperean drama supported by mighty roles.
December 20, 2012
An endlessly entertaining update of Richard III. It's fun to see Ian McKellan single-handedly take control of Britain... literally.
December 20, 2012
This is the first movie I ever saw Sir Ian McKellen in -- and what a knockout performance! It'll make you want to brush up on your Shakespeare.
December 19, 2012
This film raises the bar for Shakespearean adaptations. Ian McKellen's stellar performance captures the fascinating complexity of Richard as a villain, as he is terrifying in his subtle facial expressions and intonations, and his playful skips as he succeeds in his plots add a nice touch to demonstrate his complete lack of regard towards the bloodshed and terror he inflicts. I am really glad that the film stayed true to the play with regards to Richard's communication with the audience. It was interesting to feel like a co-conspirator with Richard, and I feel that this aspect was still effective on screen. Loncraine's direction was fabulous, as several shots will remain with me forever, especially the chilling image of Lady Anne's dead corpse while a spider crawls into her mouth. This movie is a great, well-acted thrill ride.
December 1, 2012
it's a sit down and actually WATCH it type of movie.
Super Reviewer
October 27, 2012
Ian McKellen is Mesmerizing in this performance. The modernized setting and story-telling are a bit off-putting.
October 10, 2012
If you've seen that Romeo and Juliet with DeCaprio in it, then a modified Shakespeare play is nothing new to you. If not, this story is set in (modified for) 1930's England with Richard, the villian and he knows it, bloodily killing off family and others to gain the crown. May not seem like much, but it was actually pretty compelling. There is a language hurdle though: The (I'm assuming) exact language from the play is used, forcing me to turn on closed captioning to keep up and even then there were occasions I didn't know what a line meant exactly. Also, the ending, withe the famous line, "A horse, my kingdom for a horse," I think coulda been thought out better. It seemed canned compared to the classiness of the rest of the flick. Overall, and having never heard this Shakespearean story before, it was good stuff and seems like a foundation for a lot of movies we see today.
½ September 2, 2012
McKellen is fantastic.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2012
I can see we why they relocated this film out of ye olde England, because with it being an adaptation of a Shakespeare play that is directed by the guy who went on to do "Wimbledon" and boasts a cast featuring Ian McKellen, Jim Broadbent, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and, of course, the most believable Englishman of all, Robert Downey, Jr. (He's not playing English in this, it's just that he does the accent too darn well), this film is British enough as it is. I think this film's fictionalized 1930s Britain idea is cool and all, but I think that it would have been cooler if they placed this film about a decade foward, set it in World War II and made it the closest thing we're going to get to a film dealing with Magneto's rise to power. Granted, this film came out well before Ian McKellen went Magneto, and by WWII, Magneto wasn't even old enough to be James Bond-looking Michael Fassbender, so it probably wouldn't have been the coolest thing ever, but hey, I'll take what I can get, because I'm already having so much fun thinking about how Iron Man is in a film with Magneto. Wow, it sounds like this film is aging well, and certainly better than the Shakespearean dialogue behind it, because no matter how British this film is, even the Brits had to stop talking like this after a while. Don't get me wrong, the dialect is still cool and all, and I appreciate it, but even when you play it straight-faced and without the irony that Baz Luhrmann gave you more than enough of with "Romeo + Juliet", there's no setting this dialogue in relatively contemporary times without it coming off as kind of cheesy, though that might just be because Richard Loncraine knows cheesy, seeing as how he's also reasonably well know for his very English comedic work. Well, I suppose he makes for a decent choice to direct, not just because his name's Richard, but because, as I said earlier, he's just so blasted British, something that this film is nothing if not. Hey, I'm just glad Lonctraine's here making this film at the end of the day, because he does it quite well, though not well enough for you to forget what he does not so especially well.

As with many Shakespeare adaptations, the film moves along slowly but surely, either keeping too quiet or too meditative upon the dialogue, but being too steady for its own good either way, partially because the dialogue it meditates so much, or rather, too much upon has a certain distance to it. I joked earlier about how Shakespearean dialect comes off as silly in modern-set interpretations, yet all too often, Shakespeare filmmakers make the mistake of overemphasizing the dialect, rather than letting it bond with the substance, thus rendering the final product rather awkward, and this film, while typically no more awkward in its dialect mishandlings than your usual cinematic Shakespeare fare, will occasionally collapse deeper than usual in awkwardness. There is a lengthy extended period not ten minutes into the film that consists of close-to nothing going on, including dialogue, as the film finds itself stuck with nothing to say, thus creating a profoundly uncomfortable distance in the atmosphere, partially because the overlong silent period of nothingness is rather gratuitous, and while the rest of the film rarely, if ever gets to be that awkward with its going restrained by its source material, the film's having its hand tied by Shakespeares original story structure gets to be occasionally more problematic than usual in its translation, not just on the film screen, but in this fictionalized world, which proves to be more impressive than detrimental, yet sometimes gets to be a bit too lost in its own barely developed mythology, thus momentarily bypassing suspension of disbelief and repelling the viewers both from this film's reality and the film itself. Outside of that, the film's translation of such aspects within Shakespeare's original text as histrionics and the titular lead's breaking of the fourth wall through soliloquies to himself and the audience fail to be terribly organic, and when combined with such more consistent faults within the adaptation as the aforementioned overemphasis on the dialect that distances the substance the dialogue should be built around, they exacerbate the film's uncertainty, often convolute the story and sometimes repel audience engagement. Okay, but seriously though, it doesn't really help that the film is often rather slow, as I somewhat underemphatically stated earlier. Okay, now, maybe the film isn't that slow, yet even if it was rather dull, that would remain the least of its worries, as this film's awkward occasions do create a distance that has left many a cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare to collapse as underwhelming, and certainly leaves this film to run the risk of making such a collapse. However, when it comes down to it, the film beats back its faults more than it succumbs to them, compensating for its missteps with more than enough strengths to back up its ambition, particularly as a generally unconventional concept.

This film was one of, if not the first cinematic Shakespeare adaptation to keep highly faithful to its source material, yet relocate in a relatively more contemporary time setting, which is a method that has since been often played up with a degree of irony or self-satire, particularly by the following year's "Romeo + Juliet", as it is a typically dangerous task to heavily play up Shakespeare's original text in a modern setting with a straight face and other forms of uniqueness. This film's fabricated vision of 1930s Britain is, as I said, occasionally off-putting, especially with Shakespeare's dated dialect looming over it, yet on the whole, this film's world and Ian McKellen's and Richard Loncraine's tends to work as both a slickly unique vision with a fascinating mythology and worthy setting for Shakespeare's visions. Of course, the film's unique touches don't end there, as the film also boasts considerable style, with slick set pieces and structure concepts that McKellen and Loncraine place on paper with cleverness and that the art directors and production designers bring to life with just as much cleverness, staging the film's stylistic touches with slick flashiness that makes many a memorably cool moment, yet not at the expense of the style found within the substance, as production and artistry, while striking, has enough restraint in it to still prove supplementary to the atmosphere of the film. For this, much credit goes out to Richard Loncraine's direction, which is, as I said, flawed in its translation of Shakespeare's original text, often overplaying the dialect and other various theatrics to a point that distances it from the substance, yet more often than not, Loncraine holds his own and crafts a Shakespeare adaptation that is mostly as nifty in execution as it is on paper, gracing the film with a consistent lively slickness and theatrical atmosphere that creates a kind of intrigue that may not be able to bypass all of the slowness or adaptation faults, yet generally engages audience investment and brings to life Loncraine's and McKellen's screenplay's and Shakespeare's original text's (Whoo, now those are a lot of possessive nouns) strong characterization and depth that flesh out and unravel this story compellingly. Loncraine is faulty in both construction and execution of his and McKellen's vision, yet hits much more often than not, both in conception and execution, with the other man who carries out these clever visions being, in fact, the other man who concieved them. Sure, everyone within this strong cast of talents holds his or her own, as you would expect, though it's leading man Ian McKellen who delivers the most, maybe not being asked to do a considerable lot, yet still presenting the complex layers, as well as the slick corruption and tainted depths of Shakespeare's iconic Richard, Duke of Gloucester, or as he later becomes, King Richard III character with a subtlety, grace and a profound charisma that captures your investment in him as a compelling lead. Much of the film's worthiness either goes lost or diluted in translation, yet just as much, if not more of the film's worthiness goes brought to life by McKellen, both as co-writer and onscreen carrier, and by Loncraine, both as co-writer and offscreen carrier, both of whom stand strong on their and make for a strong duo, and with the help of fellow onscreen and offscreen talents and artists, our leading duo carry this film through all of its faults and leave it to ultimately come out well worth your time.

Overall, the film hits more than a few slow occasions, yet is most hurt by moments of awkwardness within Richard Loncraine's execution of Shakespeare's original text, often collapsing into the common mistake of overemphasizing Shakespeare's dialect, histrionics and other touches to the point of distancing them from the substance, while also collapsing into a few other much less prominent, yet still perhaps more problematic mistakes as a few occasions in which he messily handles this adaptation's sometimes off-puttingly unconventional setting and structure points, thus leaving the final product to often slip up, yet never fall too far down, going supported by the unique concepts, both of a story and stylistic nature, that do work considerably as fascinating re-imaginings of Shakespeare's original visions and as supplements to the substance, as well as by a consistent level of intrigue that goes generally well established by Richard Loncraine's direction, and brought to life by the talented cast, especially leading man Ian McKellen, whose compelling subtle and complex portrayal of Shakespeare's iconing tragic figure helps in making his and Loncraine's interpretation of "Richard III" a nifty and mostly engagingly unique one, even with its missteps.

3/5 - Good
½ July 30, 2012
I will go on record saying that I am not a fan of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996). However, I do not disdain the "anachronistic adaptation of classic story" genre because it can be done well. Case in point, Richard III, a magnificent Shakespearean adaptation that manages the tricky task of updating the location and maintaining the original dialogue extremely well, not an inch of it feeling out of place. This is mostly because less focus is put on flashy camera angles and more focus is put on maintaining the script's beauty by giving the dialogue to actors that can actually handle it. That being said, the performances in this film are phenomenal. The best by far is Ian McKellen as Richard III himself, giving a commanding and enthralling performance as the crooked King. He is the main character after all, and though I don't sympathize a lick with him (I don't think the viewer is supposed to, really), the audience is seeing this world through his eyes and McKellen makes an engaging guide. I went in with no knowledge of the play, and perhaps that helped, as I found his rise and fall from grace to be rather fascinating, and I can see shades of Macbeth in it, though Richard rises to power entirely on his own, out of pure spite for his family as opposed to having a woman whispering in his ear. But depending on which play was released earlier, I could say that I saw shades of it in Macbeth. McKellen stands out amongst the performers, but he is backed up by strong turns from Annette Bening, Maggie Smith (however brief), Kristin Scott Thomas, Jim Broadbent, and Robert Downey Jr. Bening especially gets her chance to shine in the film's last act, where her character goes through a massive change and massive tragedy. I'm not going to spoil it, but it reaffirms her character traits and made me like the character a lot more, and Broadbent gets his chance to shine after Richard becomes King. Downey Jr, on the other hand, gives a solid performance, but his character is not very well-used, making his presence sort of inconsequential. I realize that this is probably how it is in the play, but it just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. The film boasts a spectacular script, but it is written by the immortal bard, William Shakespeare, so beautiful dialogue kind of goes without saying. But what is easily the film's second strength (besides the actors) is the visuals. The cinematography is consistently gorgeous, especially during the final scenes and during Richard's coronation, the latter earning it's place on my list of favourite movie scenes. Alongside that, the set designs are absolutely splendid and the costuming (especially for Bening and McKellen) is extremely well-done. Romeo and Juliet had style, but not in any league compared to this. I suppose the point of this whole rant is to say that Richard III has sadly fallen by the wayside (despite receiving wild critical acclaim and a few awards) in terms of Shakespearean adaptations, and I give it my highest recommendation as a near-perfect film and my current favourite out of any Shakespeare adaptation.
½ June 21, 2012
The Great Sun of York
½ June 16, 2012
I don't know how I missed this one for so long, but what a great movie. Gandalf and Magneto just do NOT have the depth of the Bard's characters, and McKellen is in his element here. Love the alternate history as well!
May 6, 2012
RDJ and Ian McKellen
April 10, 2012
good cast maybe it'd be good
March 5, 2012
Shakespeare isn't easy to transform to the modern viewer; so let's make the thirties adaptation of " Richard III ". Modern, funny at moments, sometimes bizarre this movie is good reminder why Shakespearean plays are unfilmable in the modern era. Ian McKellen is a great choice for the part of Richard, but I couldn't help than make myself laugh when I saw whole acting crew having so much fun. I really see them all enjoying their characters. Serpentine and monstrous as Richard is, Ian McKellen makes him a combination of "Hunchback of Notre-Dame" and "Black Adder" and makes this movie wonderful evening's fun if you want some Shakespearean discourse.
½ March 3, 2012
A bold and rich interpretation of the Shakespeare play is given volatile treatment here with an early twentieth century, Nazi-like English setting. It's a challenging piece since we're not used to Shakespearian English on a regular basis, but when you boil it down to its finest elements, it conveys everything it should/needs to strictly on the lush visuals and the quality work from the assembled cast. Speaking of, the casting is terrific (save maybe Downey, Jr.) with great work from McKellan, Benning, Broadbent, Thomas, and Smith. The costuming and set design are, of course, detailed and epic to a fault. This is perhaps one of the finer modern Shakespeare adaptations (not done by Brannagh), that has unfortunately fallen through the cracks.
Super Reviewer
February 29, 2012
Ian McKellan was magnificent as usual. Annette Bening was magic. Jim Broadbent was incredible. Maggie Smith was brief, but fantastic. Robert Downey Jr. was confusing.
February 3, 2012
One of the finest adaptations of Shakespeare's work ever put to film.
January 7, 2012
Terrific cast, great adaptation.
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