Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

When it comes to the work of The Bard that a lot of us were forced to read in high school, it was hit or miss as some students loved reading Shakespeare and others simply hated it, but almost everybody was able to wrap their minds around Lord Macbeth and his nutty wife Lady Macbeth and their ultimately tragic failed attempt to wrest the throne from Duncan and make Macbeth king. Heralding from Australia we have director Geoffrey Wrightís attempt at modernizing the setting of Lord Macbeth by transporting Shakespeareís characters from the marshes of Scotland to the underworld of Melbourne, but with the language staying the same, similar to Baz Luhrmannís rendition of ĎRomeo and Julietí some ten years ago. So what is the result? Let us take a gander.

If you know the story then you know the story already, just replace the horses with big fancy trucks and swords with automatic weapons. Oh, and play the three bearded weird sisters not as old hags, but as hot horny young high school chicks, dressed in knee high whites and plaid skirts and tight round bottoms who open up the proceedings while Macbeth (Sam Worthington) and Lady Macbeth (Victoria Hill) mourn their infant son at the cemetery. Lord Macbeth in this reality is a head captain in King Duncanís crew of mobsters and is overseeing a drug deal with some rather suspicious looking Asian dudes. The deal goes all to hell, but as per usual Lord Macbeth acquits himself quite well in battle, along with his best friend Lord Banquo (Steve Bastoni), and dispatches those who would double cross them in a hail of gunfire and car chases. Duncan (Gary Sweet) is pleased with the work Macbeth has done and all hail Macbeth, but when itís time to name an heir to his throne, who does he name? Why his son Malcolm (Matt Doran), which does not please Macbeth at all.

Well relax Lord because your Lady has a plan, being as how the King and the crew are

coming over to castle Dunsinane for a little party, she has a scheme to kill the King and thus place Macbeth closer to the head of the family. Upon hearing of the death of his father, Malcolm bolts knowing that his demise canít be far behind. Lord MacDuff however is suspicious of these events surrounding Duncanís murder as heís never really trusted Macbeth in the first place. This is about the time that both the Lord and his Lady spiral into insanity with Macbeth killing even those who were closest and most loyal to him, largely due to the cackling prophecies of the three weird sisters, and Lady Macbeth being wrought with guilt over her hand in the way that the events have unfortunately unfolded. As we already know, Macbeth has arrogantly placed his faith in one particular prophecy of the weird sisters, one that makes the Lord feels makes his invincible. And we also know in regards to that prophecy that perhaps Lord Macbeth should have read the fine print.

I actually enjoyed Geoffrey Wrightís modern take on Shakespeare much more than Baz Luhrmanís, firstly because I have a greater affinity towards Macbeth than Romeo and Juliet, and secondly I found Lurhmanís 1996 film far too loud and too kinetic for my taste. This is not to say that there arenít problems with this version however. Taking Macbeth out of armor and placing him in a snake skin boots isnít so difficult to do as the subject matter transfers rather easily, just as having gun fights transpire in the stead of glorious sword battles. I thought Wright handled the transition quite well, and whatever one may feel about the film, it is one good looking picture to view. But visuals aside, we are talking Shakespeare here which has been in the hands of the Paul Robensonís, and Laurence Olivierís and the Richard Burtonís of the world. This is simply a round a bout way of saying if you canít act, and I mean REALLY act, then youíre going to have problems. Reciting Shakespeare is more than simply reciting your lines with confidence, you have to know what the hell those lines mean and where to place the emphasis. Not have a rough idea, but KNOW. I got the feeling watching this that the majority of the cast didnít know how to say the lines. I know the language is difficult but if said correctly then the audience can easily understand what is being said. I felt that Gary Sweet as King Duncan was a cut above in understanding the words and that translated in how he delivered them, allowing us to understand him as if he were speaking plain English. Sam Worthingtonís intonation wasnít there and though he delivered his lines with force and confidence, that doesnít mean he delivered them correctly. Same for Victoria Hill who seemed to fare a little better than Worthington, but nonetheless oft times it was difficult to pick up the meaning of her words, particularly if one isnít familiar with the story, and thus this is the biggest failing of this version of Macbeth. The hot naked sisters was a bit of a peculiar decision as well, because who really cares if something wicked this way comes if your looking at hot naked chicks.

Overall all though, despite the problems and despite the fact that I know this puts me in the critical minority concerning this flick, as if I give a damn, I liked Geoffrey Wrightís ambitious attempt at recreating Macbeth. It was a great looking film oozing with style and it did have a lot of action as well, even if you do struggle at times with understanding what the actors are attempting to communicate to us.

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