Ok, fair reader, I’m going to be honest. I only watched 55 minutes of this week’s film adaptation. And the prospect of watching another 2 1/2 hours of it made me want to cry. So this week you’re getting a review of the first 55 minutes of the film. Because once again, we hang out with our film fallback, The Complete Dramatic Works of Shakespeare series (I swear Kenneth Branagh, as I watch more and more of these I become more and more serious about chaining you to a director’s chair so that there will be better Shakespearean film adaptations out there).
Anyway, so what did I learn in the first 55 minutes? They did a weird job in casting for this one. Henry VI is beak-nosed, soft-voiced, and pathetic (really only the last quality was necessary). The actress playing Margaret was too old (actually this is true of basically half the cast, particularly Henry. How am I supposed to buy the fact that an actor in his late 30s to early 40s is a young king barely above the age of majority?) and she got stuck with some weird hair. Suffolk isn’t nearly as hot or as manly as he should be. If you’re going to cheat on the king, the duke better be worth it, IMO. And York, my beloved York, wasn’t nearly as awesome as I could have hoped for. However, it may be of interest that the actor playing York is the same man that played Captain Smith in the Kate and Leo version of Titanic.
The sets are laughably bad. We’re literally dealing with poor wooden sets slapped up in the background to make it seem like… someplace. It definitely doesn’t pass as a palace. Or an area outside a palace either. Maybe a really bad three-ring circus. The costumes are ok. But I quickly realized that the highlight of this film were going to be the funny hats.
And speaking of laughably bad, let’s talk about the play content I got in the first hour. Most of it was taken up by Act I (that’s right, only a whopping five or so minutes were Act II. See why I’m not rushing out to watch the rest?). The film opens with a couple heralds rolling down a banner that says Henry VI Part 2, which is fine, except that the banner is then just hanging in the background for the first twenty minutes of the film, which is a little distracting. Other disappointments include the witch/conjurer scene. I was hoping for something Macbeth like in quality, but this scene was bad. Not scary, creepy, or even vaguely mysterious. It was difficult to determine whether the director was trying to imply that the witch and conjurer were con artists or just felt like not hiding all the “special effects” to create the thunder and altered voice for summoning the spirit. Oh, and my final complaint is that while Somerset and York are wearing red and white flowers respectively (as they should), the flowers look nothing like roses. Instead they’re just really fake looking fake flowers. Le sigh.
Thus ends the film review. I’ll be back on Sunday when I’ll conclude the trilogy with Henry VI Part 3.