Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Shakespeare > Post-Modern > Cymbeline (2014/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

Cymbeline (2014/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

Picture: B+ Sound: B+ Extras: C+ Film: C

Hollywood's obsession with giving Shakespeare a modern film adaptation is something you either love or hate. Using prose language in this modern age sometimes doesn't always translate well, as seen here. At the core, the dramatic themes are characters work, but ultimately there's always something a little off as seen in previous Hollywood Shakespeare films like Romeo + Juliet and Othello. Michael Almereyda's Cymbeline is no different - with this being the director's second Shakespeare outing to film (the other being Hamlet in 2000). Boasting an incredible cast including Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, and Dakota Johnson the film is watchable but not a classic as it tries to appeal to modern day audiences with the addition of some modern pop culture elements (in one scene Mila Jovovich sings a Bob Dylan song) and the motorcycle gang angle similar to that of Sons of Anarchy.

Ed Harris stars as Cymbeline, the king of the Briton Motorcycle Gang (shades of Romero's Knightriders), a group that has forged an uneasy truce with the Roman police force that allows them to do business without interference. The apple of his eye is his daughter, Imogen (Dakota Johnson), his only remaining child after the disappearance of his two sons and the heir to his kingdom. He is insistent that she marry Cloten (Anton Yelchin), the son of his second wife, the Queen (Jovovich), but as the story opens, he learns that Imogen has defied him by falling in love (and secretly marrying) the penniless-but-true Posthumus (Leguizamo).

Cymbeline is outraged by this and sends Posthumus into exile. The Queen is no happier either by this revelation as she is the one behind the plan for Imogen to marry Cloten, so that she may then kill both Cymbeline and Imogen and make her son the king.

While the truce between the Britons and Romans falls apart and leads to bloodshed on both sides, Posthumus finds himself forced into a wager with the Iachimo (Ethan Hawke), an agitator who bets him that he can seduce Imogen and provide proof of the deed. Imogen manages to fend off his advances, but late one night, Iachimo fakes the evidence and the distraught Posthumus orders aide Pisanio (Leguizamo) to murder Imogen in revenge for her unfaithfulness. Pisanio cannot bring himself to do this and instead advises Imogen to disguise herself as a man and go into hiding, which leads her to the doorstep of an old man (Lingo) and his two sons. This all leads to the usual array of Shakespearian plot twists--suicide, murder, war and magical potions that make people seem dead just long enough to cause a misunderstanding or two.

The presentation on the disc is pretty flawless with a 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen high definition transfer in 1080p and an elegantly mixed, lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. As for extras on the disc, we are given an interesting Commentary Track with the Director, Ethan Hawke, and Shakespeare expert Anthony Holden. Also, there's a Behind the Scenes Featurette, Interviews with the Cast and Crew, and trailers.

With a strong cast, this film is geared more towards fans of Shakespeare that don't mind some modern day twists thrown in. If you're a fan of the play or the story then I would definitely give it a go, but I found the film as more of a one time watch.

- James Harland Lockhart V



 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com