Richard III (Richard Loncraine)

Rating: 3.5

From the moment that the letters of the film's title slam onto the screen 
with the loud clang usually reserved for a Schwarzenegger action flick, 
you know this is no stolid Masterpiece Theater adaptation (see Oliver 
Parker's OTHELLO if that's your cup of tea).  Audacious, assured, and 
visually stunning, this revisionist 1930's version of Shakespeare's 
classic tale of treachery and usurpation succeeds on almost every level.  
It suffers from the same structural flaws that the play does, of course, 
but that's a minor complaint; equally unimportant is the miscasting of 
Annette Bening and Robert Downey, Jr. as Elizabeth and Rivers--they're 
relatively minor parts, and Downey, who is particularly bad, is 
dispatched very early.  Ian McKellan becomes Nicolas Cage's first (and 
quite likely last) serious challenger for Best Actor honors, and Jim 
Broadbent, as Buckingham, is almost as good.  I don't know that the 
analogy to the rise of fascism is particularly convincing, but man! does 
it make for some eye-popping cinema.  As alive as the current OTHELLO is 
inert.  Don't miss it.