The most recent adaptation of the legendary Shakespeare play is fantastically cinematic and a real treat for fans of 'pure cinema'. Its the traditional bard tale, told using the original dialogue, but given a real updated, almost action/horror-film veneer to make it more relevant to modern audiences.
And on that note it succeeds wildly! Its an utter treat for both the eye and ears - the spectacle on show is staggering, from fog drenched moors, with ghostly figures leering out, to slow-mo action scenes that cover the audience in blood, to candle lit interiors where nothing happens, but two people talk, yet with the most interesting visual take on this you could imagine. It really does look amazing. And its backed by a fantastic soundtrack too - not hugely bombastic, although when needed it does throw the kitchen sink at the listener! But a gloriously eerie and almost ethereal soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place as a gothic horror score. But again, it sounds wonderful and matches the visuals perfectly. My eyes and ears were proper chuffed with this bad boy!!!
But I have to admit to having a complete tin ear when it comes to original Shakespearean dialogue. In all honesty, they might as well have been speaking Swahili! Its kinda like how I felt about watching most episodes of The West Wing - I understood about 25% of the dialogue but the characters and feel of the thing carried you through so you could still easily enjoy it without feeling either like you were missing anything or stupid (although when it comes to both American politics and Shakespearean dialogue, I am massively stupid!). So those of a similar tin ear, be warned - however, all the plus points mentioned above means you always know exactly what's going on and the dialogue simply washes over you and enhances the mood rather than being integral to driving the narrative forward.
The cast were great, as expected from them - Fassbender is awesome, going from scary badass to nut job in a realistic way, and basically being so compelling on screen you cant take your eyes off him. The rest of the cast all have smaller parts but still play them brilliantly - Cotillard, Considine, Harris, Thewlis, all superb. In all, this was a superb piece of cinema that even my lack of really understanding the dialogue couldn't stop me enjoying.
The transfer is top notch - sound and image are both presented brilliantly. The picture often is covered in darkness or mist or both so its never going to be a demo of your kit, but what its asked to show, it does so wonderfully. Similarly the lossless 5.1 track presents the fantastic score wonderfully - nice and full, with nice and subtle surround usage. Extras disappoint (don't they usually????) - a few 6-8 min featurettes look at the film itself (a typical BTS fluff piece), Fassbender and Cotillard (better but too backslapping for me). None are really worth your time.
Summary - a brilliant telling of the famous story, that should appeal to horror/action buffs as much as academic scholars.....as long as that dialogue can be tolerated! Great transfer means this is a fantastic looking and sounding disc - its all highly recommended. If this is what the director and star can do with a 500 year old play, I can't wait to see what they do with a video game - Assassin's Creed can't come quick enough on this evidence!!!