Film Review: Macbeth


Director Justin Kurzel delivers a haunting adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic. Macbeth is a sharp and often brutal cinematic retelling of the play.

Macbeth, a Thane of Scotland, receives a prophecy that he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition, Macbeth is spurred on by his wife to take action to claim the throne for himself…

Justin Kurzel, director of 2011’s Snowtown, has created powerful and evocative cinema with his version of Macbeth. The cinematography, setting, sound and screenplay combine to offer an adaptation that works fantastically on the big screen. Michael Fassbender delivers a commanding performance as the title character. He is ably aided by Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth and Sean Harris as a memorable Macduff.

Kurzel’s Macbeth has been trimmed from the original for the screen, as is necessary given the length of the play. The changes make the duration feel brisk, without losing the essence of the play. There are also some changes to the delivery and set-ups, but those enamoured with Shakespeare’s work will likely see the reasoning behind this.

Macbeth keeps the original Shakespeare dialogue. Whilst this may seem impenetrable, particularly for those less familiar with the bard’s plays, it actually works well within the context. This is because this version of Macbeth relies heavily on the visual, meaning that viewers will be able to follow the story even if they do not understand every word of the dialogue. The screenplay trims a significant amount of dialogue, with images helping to tell the story.

Justin Kurzel directs the action with a brusqueness that suits the overall tone. The film keeps the original period in its setting, and the battle sequences work well to depict the brutality of the time, whilst also mirroring the mindset of the protagonist. Macbeth’s descent into madness is concise but effective. Use of colour and composition in Macbeth is excellent. The sound, employed throughout, is a big element of the haunting atmosphere.

With striking performances and an evocative atmosphere, Kurzel’s Macbeth is a most admirable cinematic retelling of the Scottish play.

Previews: Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer, Jungle Book and more

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including The Hunger Games: Mockingly Part 2 trailer, the first look at The Jungle Book and more…

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Trailer

Here is the latest Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 trailer. This preview focuses on Prim, and her relationship with older sister Katniss. Jennifer Lawrence, Donald Sutherland et al return for the final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise. Mockingly Part 2 will hit the big screen on 19th November 2015.

Macbeth Poster

Macbeth poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming Macbeth. Starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, the film is the latest adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays. The film is directed by Justin Curzel, best known for 2011’s Snowtown. Macbeth is released in UK cinemas on 2nd October 2015.

The Jungle Book Trailer

Well this looks pretty spectacular. Here is the first look at Disney’s live action version of The Jungle Book. The special effects look wonderful, and the film features an enviable voice cast that includes Idris Elba, Bill Murray, and Scarlett Johansson as the terrifying Kaa. The Jungle Book will roar on to the big screen in April 2016.

In the Heart of the Sea Trailer

Ron Howard re-teams with Chris Hemsworth for In the Heart of the Sea. Also starring Cillian Murphy, Benjamin Walker and Ben Whishaw, the film tells the true story of a New England whaling ship in 1820. In the Heart of the Sea is scheduled for release on Boxing Day, 26th December 2015.

Bridge of Spies Poster

Bridge of Spies Poster

Here is the poster for Steven Spielberg’s latest Bridge of Spies. Starring Tom Hanks, the film is about an insurance claims lawyer who is sent on a mission by the CIA to negotiate the release of a captured American pilot during the Cold War. Bridge of Spies will be released in UK cinemas on 27th November 2015.

The Martian Video

The marketing for The Martian is pretty slick, with a series of “training videos” produced, like the one above. With a stellar cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Chiwetel Ejiofor, it will be interesting to see if the film can replicate the success of recent space-set blockbusters like Interstellar and Gravity. The Martian is out in UK cinemas on 30th September 2015.

Pan Trailer

The latest Peter Pan adaptation, Pan, is about to be released. Starring Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund and Rooney Mara, the film is directed by Joe Wright. It will be interesting to see how the film measures up against 1991’s Hook. Pan will hit the big screen on 16th October 2015.

Film Review: Snowtown

Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown is a grim but compelling drama. The film takes an interesting perspective on events, one that leaves enough ambiguity to keep viewers on their toes.

Teenager Jamie lives with his mother and his brothers in an Adelaide suburb. After Jamie had his brothers fall victim to an abuser, his mother introduces new people into the family home. Among them is John Bunting, a charismatic guy who Jamie begins to look up to. There is, however, a much darker side to John…

Snowtown is an incredibly bleak film. This does not distract from how compelling it is. Justin Kurzel and co-writer Shaun Grant have wisely decided to depict proceedings through the protagonist Jamie. This works well, as viewers are able to empathise with the teenager, and are able to understand why Jamie is in John’s thrall. It is an interesting perspective as the focus is not solely on John Bunting and the crimes that he committed. Rather, Snowtown concentrates on his relationship with the family and his influence on Jamie.

The portrayal of John Bunting is not one dimensional in the least. Instead, it is totally believable that Jamie would be in awe of the character, given John’s personality and John’s background. There is a rationale to John’s crimes to begin with, even though the crimes themselves are unsavoury. It is only as the film unfolds that his motives become blurred. The horror of both the crimes and his mindset gradually become apparent; John is not a monster to begin with. Similarly, Jamie has equal depth. This makes both the character and his perspective fascinating. There is a helplessness to him that is sad and disturbing.

A film about a serial killer is expected to be violent. Yet much of the violence in Snowtown is implied rather than overtly depicted. Sound is integral to the film at all times. The sound of torture and murder in some scenes is searing, whilst the score is used sparingly, but to great effect. The handheld camera suits the tone of the film. The cinematography captures the dankness of surroundings.

Lucas Pittaway is convincingly as the introverted as Jamie. Pittaway is believable throughout the film, and is especially strong in the more disturbing scenes. Daniel Henshall is superb as John Bunting. The actor captures the various sides to his personality exceptionally well.

Snowtown may prove too heavy-going for some viewers. Most will find the film engaging and certainly a worthwhile watch.