Richard III - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Richard III Reviews

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April 3, 2017
truly exceptional film. oliviers adaptation of Shakespeare play of the wicked kings rise to power.
½ March 27, 2017
Lengthy but masterful rendition of Shakespeare's history play of one of the most infamous of English kings. Laurence Olivier is superb in the title role.
January 25, 2017
Visually, this is one of the best Oliver/Shakespeare films. However, the story of Richard III is not Shakespeare's best. Oliver and the supporting cast do a great job of bringing this tale to life.
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2016
Olivier's performance is occasionally hammy (To be expected I suppose) but that's more a product of his era that any major failings as an actor. I'm not sure if this is the definitive film version of this play, but it's hard to deny the moments of brilliance.
April 11, 2016
"Conscience is a word that cowards use." - Richard III

This original "Game of Thrones" adapted Shakespeare's play to the screen for the first time with director Laurence Olivier relishing the title role. Richard's conniving concoctions are a pleasure to see play out as characters are dispatched in diverse yet artful manners. John McCorry worked overtime in ornamenting the cast, arranged like flowers in this Technicolor framing. RICHARD III hits many peaks during its occasionally dense and admittedly dated run.
April 1, 2016
A typical production of Richard III would ordinarily take about four hours to perform, so Laurence Olivier got his film effort down to 158 minutes by shortening many scenes and excising the character of Queen Margaret entirely (he also tacked on elements of Henry VI Part 3 so those unfamiliar with the historical context of the story would be up to speed). Shakespeare buffs may balk at some of the other liberties taken with the source play, but it's hard not to admire the pedigree of the cast, the beautiful Technicolor vibrancy of the cinematography, and Olivier's powerhouse acting in the title role. All of those strong points are often discussed by cinephiles when Richard III was brought up, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover how great the scene blocking in this film happens to be; you'll be rewarded if you pay attention to how the camera uses the shadows of each character to add impact to certain scenes.
February 26, 2016
Classic adaptation of Shakespeare's play that represents the best work by Laurence Oliver both in front of & behind the camera. Oliver was always brilliant at Shakespeare & his performance as Richard III is one of his best. He easily conveys the charm & intelligence required of the role, making you root for the great villain even as he does dastardly things. Oliver even gives you reason to empathize with Richard, pointing out being born & treated as a cripple has twisted him (a sinister look he gives to one of the young princes after an innocent comment shows his inner rage on the matter). He's of course surrounded by an equally excellent cast, from Claire Bloom, who's Lady Anne is terrifying seduced by Richard, to John Gielgud's tragic Duke of Clarence. Behind the camera, Oliver expertly cut & edited the bard's lengthy play for film (which is still 2 & half hours) even splitting some scenes for greater effect (Richard's seduction of Anne is a prime example). He also makes great use of the sets, giving a true theatrical feel (the haunting scene on the battlefield is chilling). Oliver at his finest and one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare ever.
October 16, 2015
No one can do Shakespeare like Olivier. It's so effortless and conversational, almost like it's not written poetically in a 400 year old dialect.
April 1, 2015
It isn't Hamlet, but it is more interesting than Henry \/.
½ January 4, 2015
Despite the skills its celebrated actors, I'm unable to follow the Shakespearean tongue.
Super Reviewer
½ June 17, 2014
The cinematic Shakesperian adapter by excellence along with Orson Welles and above his descendant Kenneth Branagh, exalter of the gracious richness of dialogue, the constructer of royal and historical epicness Sir Laurence Olivier, produces and directs Shakespeare's tale set in 15th Century England about the tragic account of King Richard III, a man doomed to the treachery of his own deadly ambitions of power.

Filmed as a spectacle and with a very ambitious scope which accentuates during the final act that takes place at the battle scene of Bosworth Fields, excellently acted by the entire ensemble cast, including the youngest side, with all of the most relevant plot's intricacies almost perfectly summarized into celluloid, and with a shockingly accurate performance by Olivier himself, Richard III consolidates his position as one of the most important literature fans in the film world, which theatrical staging matches its grandeur with hard-to-beat excellence.

Note that this is not your typical Hollywood production both in terms of pacing and delivery. This almost scoreless project should resonate more strongly than it does today. The fusion of film and literature rarely reaches such beloved cohesion...

March 23, 2014
For the sake of Shakespeare's integrity was this production necessary. Absolute master of the art Laurence Olivier shared his craft with us in this production, where he not only directs, but also stars as the titular character. It is a genre-defining performance, and picture, that will likely be unmatched for the rest of eternity. Absolutely worth seeing.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2014
Although the depictions of Richard III could perhaps have been overplayed over the years, no one revels in the stereotype like Laurence Olivier delivering a deliciously manipulating Richard.
Super Reviewer
½ January 9, 2014
Richard III is known for being one of the best of the play's adaptations and particularly for Laurence Olivier's stunning performance as he stars, directs and is a co-screenwriter for Richard III. The film is mainly dialogue, save for the last 20 minutes or so and much of the play is portrayed here in a very theatrical style. The film is essentially a viewing of a theatrical play with ornate sets and lots of dialogue and actions played out with a lot of gusto and theatrics involved. While the film isn't necessarily paced bad, if you aren't familiar with the story, can be very very slow and even boring and confusing. With that said, if you enjoy and appreciate theatre, this is a great film showcasing Richard III and features a great performance by Olivier and just as many theatrical elements in it that you at times feel you are watching a play on stage.
½ November 29, 2013
Now while Richard III may not technically be pure Shakespeare (hardly any adaptation of it ever is, I'm sure), it's instead the third film from Laurence Olivier based upon Shakespeare with a magnificent performance from the man, as always. He first made Henry V, then Hamlet and now this, and by all accounts, this is his finest hour. He also produced and directed the film, so his stamp is all over it. The film was also shot beautifully with plenty of camera movement to make it feel less stilted. Olivier's speeches to camera are mesmerizing and, really, the driving force behind the film. I would call it one of his best films, but it's also marvelous to look at with performances that are easy to get caught up in.
October 1, 2013
One of my top two or three Shakespeare adaptations. Olivier kills it performing and directing.
½ September 7, 2013
Larry Olivier's Richard III is a sweepingly inventive and grand Shakespeare film, adding new and original elements to the story and giving a more realistic portrayal of a falsely maligned figure.
½ August 6, 2013
Richard III is the first Laurence Olivier film I've seen that is also an adaptation of a Shakespeare play. Alas, my disdain for Shakespeare merely grew as I sat through it.

Richard III was a film I intended to have me change my thoughts about Shakespeare and learn from the most acclaimed Shakespearian actor of all time what a compelling story he intended to tell. I fell asleep after trying to keep up for an hour or so.
I'm not the most valid source for critiquing Richard III as I grew up finding Shakespeare's stories to be more overused than Kim Kardashian's vagina, but I can tell you it's nothing special to expect save from the same Shakespeare story told enough times before in his work.
The problems are plentiful. The first is that the script uses Elizabethan dialogue so flawlessly that its essentially a foreign language film which is not easy to comprehend or keep up with without subtitles. Yet it shouldn't be necessary to have to read them, and Richard III just conveys how I find Elizabethan language to be so idiotic and tedious. Richard III makes me question how Shakespeare can be deemed a talented writer by anybody whatsoever, and the reason Richard III failed at box office is abundantly clear.
Next in line is the film's style. Richard III never succeeds at transcending the stage setting it was written for in its film adaptation, as it is set and filmed predominantly in sets full of cardboard props with single view cinematography which prevents it from seeming like anything more than a play that's lazily constructed and put in front of a camera. This essentially makes it feel like Richard III is just a stage production that was pre-filmed and it lacks the real atmosphere of being a movie experience until its final scenes depicting the battle. This shows how Richard III is just a film lacking in entertainment and is a bland film with minimal energy and a rough audio quality which contributes to the difficulty of comprehending the language. Richard III makes less sense in its heavy Elizabethan language than if it were done in nadsat speak, and that would be more entertaining to sit through

The one really key positive thing that came from Richard III was that Laurence Olivier gave a magnificent performance. Truly a talented mastermind of Shakespearian theatre, Laurence Olivier takes the starring role of Richard III in a flawlessly confident manner which results in him becoming nothing less than an embodiment of the titular character, strongly articulating his words and his physicality as to convey what is going on in Richard III's mind. He's the one character who is relatively easy to follow after and understand, and Laurence Olivier is the man to thank for that.
Also, the musical score was strong as it strengthened the dynamics so that the audience can understand what is the overall feel of the scene, even if the atmosphere is lacking. The music was greatly composed and does strengthen Richard III.

But it still never becomes anything more than a one-dimensional stage production lacking in enough qualities to deem it a film, and apart from Laurence Olivier's performance there are now qualities to it which would encourage Shakespearian cinema.
½ April 22, 2013
Laurence Olivier as Richard III is astounding, despite being over the top at parts, though understandable. However, his directing is mediocre. He seems to not be aware of what a camera can do, and plays almost everything out in wide shots. I understand the intention to shoot this as a play, but this is a movie. There are times where, for example, a close up, could've told us something about the story, character etc that the words couldn't. It didn't feel to be a very emotional, engaging movie, and it felt restricted.

Despite all of it's great ambitions, it's not a very cinematic movie. A lot of the characters, with the exception of Richard the III, feel irrelevant, and I found myself struggling to keep up with certain characters. As a result, I found that a bit self-indulgent, but I guess that was ok. This is after all, called Richard III.

It's ok, a bit boring at times, but it has a lot of unrealized potential. I'll see other Laurence Olivier Shakespeare movies, but if you're looking for a good Shakespeare movie, despite its length, I'd recommend Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet.
April 2, 2013
This is a terrible version of the Play -- the text is mutilated and Olivier is his usual self -- not Richard III but Laurence Olivier.
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