Tag Archives: Benedict Cumberbatch

My Thoughts on: The Hollow Crown ‘Richard III’ (2016)

I’ve said before that Richard III is my favorite Shakespearean play and I’ve done my best to see each major film adaptation of it (thus far I’ve seen three: this one, Olivier’s 1955 version and Ian McKellen’s 1995 version). When I heard that The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses would feature Benedict Cumberbatch as the last Plantagenet king, I knew I could not afford to miss this performance. And let me tell you, Cumberbatch plays the role so well that I feel it is at least equal to Olivier’s performance (and that is saying something!)

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Comparing it to the 1955 version, it’s clear right away that there are some major differences. In the earlier version, the role of Queen Margaret (Henry VI’s widow) is eliminated entirely, but in this version she’s one of the major characters and it completely changes the tone of the play, especially in a pivotal scene when Margaret curses Richard, Buckingham, Queen Elizabeth and the queen’s relatives. Sophie Okonedo is brilliant as the aging Margaret, who has by now lost her husband, her status and her only son. And while she sounds like a raving madwoman (and Richard tries to play her off as such), it’s made clear that everyone believes her words, even if they don’t say so.

Richard and Richmond rally their troops (2016)

Speaking of Richard, from the moment Cumberbatch appears on the screen, you cannot look away from him. This version of Richard III does something new, in that for the first time we see Richard shirtless, exposing his twisted hump for all to see. Cumberbatch turns in a masterful performance as the ultimate deceiver, putting on a kind face for most of the court, and only revealing his true self to the audience. Margaret is the only one to see Richard for what he truly is, and by the time the others realize the danger, it’s too late.

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Going back to differences in versions, this iteration of Richard III cuts out several soliloquies that I’ve come to enjoy in other versions. Most notably, Clarence’s speech about drowning (right before his murder) is all but eliminated, which is a shame as hearing Clarence describe the feeling of drowning right before he is murdered BY drowning only increases the horror of the situation.

The other scene I must highlight comes towards the end of the play, right before Richard rides into battle against Henry Tudor (the future Henry VII). Richard is drawn into a nightmare where he is brought face to face with the ghosts of everyone he has killed to get to the throne: his nephews, Henry VI, his wife Anne, Buckingham; all of these ghosts mock Richard and bid him “despair and die.” It’s a chilling scene and one that almost brings Richard to his senses, but the villain is unrepentant to the last.

I highly recommend The Hollow Crown: Richard III to anyone who hasn’t seen a Shakespeare play on film before and is curious about starting. It’s a wonderful performance from the entire cast and you will love it. If you have seen this version of Richard III, let me know your thoughts on it in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

See also:

My Thoughts on: The Hollow Crown ‘Richard II’ (2012)

My thoughts on: Richard III (1955)

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Star Trek: Into Darkness is a complete rip-off of Wrath of Khan

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(prepare for a rant/tirade because I have some issues with this movie)

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Image from: subscene.com

Oh the deja vu….like the first Star Trek film in the reboot era, I had high hopes for Into Darkness, especially once it was announced that Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as the villain. Everything looked great, the story details sounded good, the teaser was amazing, but then one little detail came to my attention: the name of Cumberbatch’s character was Khan.

Having seen every Star Trek film there is (and almost all of the TV series to boot), knowing the villain was named Khan meant only one thing: Into Darkness HAD to be a remake of Wrath of Khan (1984), the film which is considered by many to be the greatest in the series. Oh wait, that’s right, I’m sorry, it’s not a remake, it’s *clears throat” “How the events of Wrath of Khan MIGHT have occurred set in an alternate universe.” Which is a clever way of saying IT’S.A.REMAKE!!

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I MIGHT have been able to come to terms with this if the story had been really good, but it’s not. Every plot detail begs for a comparison with the original film, and for me, the original comes out on top. I’m not saying Cumberbatch did a bad job per se, but compared to Ricardo Montalban’s epic performance? Nope, it’s not even close.

The only twist that got my attention is that they flip-flopped who sacrificed themselves to save the ship, that was the one twist I found believable. Of course, Kirk being as devoted to his ship and crew as he is, would surely have done what Spock did in Wrath of Khan, given half the opportunity.

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The ending wasn’t half bad either. True, Khan is still alive at film’s end (which means he might pop up sometime in the future), and McCoy’s final line “Five years in space, God help me.” is pretty funny (and perfectly in character too), and yet, I don’t like it, I CAN’T like it. If you’re going to reboot a series, do what the James Bond writers did and keep coming up with original material, only set in a new context, don’t try to rehash the original films and use the “alternate universe” as an excuse.

For me, truly, Star Trek Beyond is the studio’s last chance to keep me as a fan of the new films. If this doesn’t blow me away, well, there’s always the original films to enjoy.

This concludes my rant. (I know I take a bit of a hard line when it comes to the remakes, it’s just that the original films are very special to me, and if you like the rebooted series, that’s ok! Promise!)

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