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The Tempest (2 stars)

Helen Mirren, Tom Conti, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper and Alan Cumming star in Shakespeare adap

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The Tempest

(PG) 109min

After her baroque but static stab at Titus Andronicus, Julie Taymor turns her attention to Shakespeare’s final play, with Helen Mirren centre-stage as not Prospero but Propera, the island-bound magician who toys with a group of shipwrecked sailors, washed up on her shores by the tempest she created.

Prior to her recent Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark debacle, Taymor’s Broadway credentials have ensnared a cast of strange bedfellows to support Mirren. Tom Conti, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper and Alan Cumming are the sailors, while Caliban (Djimon Hounsou), Stephano (Alfred Molina) and Trinculo (Russell Brand, awful) dither around drunkenly on the sidelines. Summoning the rough magic of Ariel (Ben Wishaw), Prospera faces up to the loss of daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones) as chaos reigns around her.

With such an array of talent, plus stunning Oscar-nominated costumes by Sandy Powell and lashings of CGI, Taymor’s The Tempest sounds lively enough, but flounders in poor line-readings, ugly visuals and a wretched pomp-rock score. Only Mirren and Conti rise above the pretensions of the project, which turn Shakespeare’s swan song into a deathly-dull plod. With hellhounds, frogs, and special effects trickery in abundance, there’s plenty of novelty on offer, but little of the magic that makes the play so memorable.

General release, Fri 4 Mar.

The Tempest

  • 2 stars
  • 2011
  • UK
  • 110 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Julie Taymor
  • Cast: Helen Mirren, Alan Cumming, Felicity Jones

With an all-star cast, stunning Oscar-nominated costumes by Sandy Powell and lashings of CGI, Taymor's gender-bending adaptation (starring Mirren as 'Prospera') sounds lively enough, but it flounders in ugly visuals and pretension.

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