Director: Justin Kurzel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, Paddy Considine, Jack Reynor, David Thewlis
Plot: Based on the play by William Shakespeare. After receiving a prophecy by three witches that he will become King of Scotland, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, decides to kill the king and take the throne for himself. However, following his actions, he is consumed by guilt and paranoia, which leads to more blood and death.
Review: There have been many of Shakespeare's work adapted for the big screen, some of the more significant ones being Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo and Juliet, 10 Things I Hate About You starring the late Heath Ledger adapted from The Taming Of The Shrew, Hamlet starring Mel Gibson, and O, a modern day version of Othello starring Josh Hartnett. There are many more, but these are just a few to begin with.
This writer isn't well-versed with Shakespeare, so he'll do his best telling you what he sees in this version of Macbeth. The story is set during a civil war in Scotland around the 11th century. Macbeth, a trusted general of King Duncan, receives a prophecy from three witches that he will soon become King of Scotland, and his friend Banquo will father future kings of Scotland, though he won't be king himself. Overwrought with ambition and encouraged by his wife, Macbeth kills the king and takes the crown. But after that, he starts to feel paranoid, and slowly he grows mad day after day, which drives him to take further extreme measures to hang on to his crown, including killing his own friend Banquo.
First off, let me inform you that if you're not familiar with Shakespeare, then understanding his words will be a huge challenge. Thankfully, this writer had assistance from subtitles provided, though it still is quite daunting to follow. Nevertheless, Macbeth manages to thrill and astound thanks to outstanding performances from its cast and great direction from Justin Kurzel.
While the supporting cast made up of Paddy Considine, Sean Harris and David Thewlis among others, put in solid work, it is lead actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard who shine the brightest here. Fassbender is stunning as Macbeth, who slowly grows mad with ambition and guilt, and Cotillard is equally brilliant as Lady Macbeth, who starts off being cold and zealous but then is consumed by the weight of her own actions as well. The duo make a fine team here, and I can't wait to see how they fare in Assassin's Creed later this year.
Kurzel is splendid in translating the play onscreen, allowing his actors to carry the story while utilizing great cinematography by Adam Arkapaw and macabre music by Jed Kurzel to his advantage. The words might confuse you at times but the essence of the story comes across beautifully. It would benefit those of you who are non-Shakespearean moviegoers to have one who is translate for you, though it's not entirely essential.
The film may drag here and there, and some scenes might puzzle you if you don't know the story beforehand, but overall I quite liked this film. There's a great sense of realism and brutality to the film, which is further enhanced by two battle scenes that bookend the movie. The final fight, bathed in crimson red fire and fog, is my favorite scene.
While I do agree that Macbeth isn't for everyone due to its convoluted language, it's a film worth checking out. (7/10)