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Overall Rating
3.07

Awesome: 11.76%
Worth A Look30.88%
Average: 23.53%
Pretty Bad: 20.59%
Total Crap: 13.24%

5 reviews, 38 user ratings


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Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1999)
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by desdemona

"Shakespeare would not be disappointed."
4 stars

Lately, Shakespeare's work has been put to shame by movies like 1995's Romeo and Juliet (what a sad, sad day it was when THAT was released). But this was not one of those sacriligious movies. The Bard would be proud.

I'm a big Shakespeare fan, so when I found out that A Midsummer's Night Dream was being made into a movie, I was pleased as pudding (or whatever). The I found out Kenneth Branagh WASN'T directing it. Hmmmmm. Well, it still has hope. Then I found out that the play was being transformed from ancient Athens to 19th century Italy. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. MAYBE still has hope. Then I found out that Calista Flockhart was playing Helena (one of the four lovers, but more on that later). Well, I still wanted to see it regardless.

I really liked it!

First things first, we must cover plot. My suggestion is read the play. Must everything always be simplified for all you idiots out there? Read the play. Can't understand Shakespearian vernacular? Well, guess what, Shakespeare for Dummies--the movie's in Shakespeare's prose. Sorry.

I think that's one of the main reasons I liked this movie: it didn't do the 10 Things I Hate About You (ahem, Taming of the Shrew) and A Thousand Acres (ahem, King Lear) thing and modernize the dialogue for us lazy, unversed modern men. Thank God.

Still, quick summary: four lovers. Hermia loves Lysander and Lysander loves Hermia, Hermia's dad hates Lysander but loves Demetrius, Demetrius loves Hermia but she hates him, and Helena loves Demetrius but he hates her. Typical set up for a Shakespeare comedy. Lysander & Hermia run away together, but they're followed by Demetrius, who's followed by Helena, into the woods which is full of prankster fairies. That's all I'm giving you. Read the play.

The misplacement of setting was pulled off quite nicely in this rendition. The scenery was simple, almost as simple as it would be on stage (which worked well because the film couldn't stray too far from what the play was meant to be). However, there were things that could be done in this movie that couldn't be done onstage; that's the beauty of film. The scenery was a little more elaborate and could show a little more than a play, and yet was still kept beautifully simple. My compliments to the director.

Aside from that, Shakespeare isn't supposed to be about elaborate, breath-taking scenery; he's about poetic verse and complex plot. This movie showed that without feeling that it should be visually stunning ala Star Wars. Again, my compliments to the director.

The acting was superb. Instead of critiquing each individual, I'll just offer you a list of everyone that played their roles well: Rupert Everett as Oberon, the fairy king; Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania, the fairy queen; Stanley Tucci as Puck, Oberon's bumbling helper fairy; Kevin Kline as Nick Bottom, hopeful actor and furry love interest of Titania; and, yes, CALISTA FLOCKHART as the lovesick Helena; among others. With such a star-studded cast, how can it go wrong? My answer? It can't. Sure, some of the more minor charaters (like Demetrius) didn't do that great a job, but, in my humble opinion, that didn't take away from the movie as a whole. After all, the lesser actors WERE the ones with the lesser roles.

One thing about this movie that the big Shakespeare buffs didn't like: it changed the happy slapstick comedy of the play into a dark, almost brooding comedy/drama. I can see why those people might not like that, but come on. How much slapsick can we possibly take? I think the darkness enhanced the story; made it more enjoyable and more meaningful. It gave the story almost a whistful quality--dark, yet still happy. And what is a romance without some sort of meaning? And when has Shakespeare ever NOT had a meaning? Perhaps THIS is the way A Midsummer Night's Dream is supposed to look like...in short, get over it.

Overall, this was a great rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was very enjoyable, and some of the acting is almost Oscar-worthy. If you're a big Shakespeare fan, definately do go check it out. If not, you'll still enjoy it for it's comedy.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1572&reviewer=86
originally posted: 06/01/99 13:10:13
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User Comments

4/20/10 brian Now that the mindless children have spoken, let me just say that it's gorgeous. 4 stars
3/08/08 Pamela White You have to like Shakespeare to get thru it 3 stars
9/09/07 someone I loved Calista Flockhart as Helena she was ausom but the rest SUCKED!!! 2 stars
4/15/07 grenda larindi its was one of the best films i ever saw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/15/05 Fred it was very crap 1 stars
3/17/05 JLI This movie is fantastic! 5 stars
1/25/05 Cat Play was Great 4 stars
11/07/04 Stephen Now IT SUCKED 1 stars
9/05/04 DM Great play, bad movie 2 stars
6/15/04 R V Warden Could not enjoy it 2 stars
6/03/04 saman this movie sucked 1 stars
5/30/04 Erica cum on- calista flockhart was gud! 3 stars
4/03/04 Shitaki Mushrooms WHat tha shit was the movie about? Had no idea, cause it was fucked ^! 1 stars
3/30/04 Ashley Daily This movie had a wonderful fantasy air to it that we haven't seen in awhile! 4 stars
1/25/04 Elena BLEAH! GAR-BAHGE! Calista Flockhart ruined the entire, boring, defiling of Shakespeare film 1 stars
1/16/04 Gecko Fanfoot Kevin Kline is the bright spot in this turd. Michelle Pfeifer should get the death penalty 1 stars
5/19/03 salice it doesnt make sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
7/30/02 Pig Fucker Possibly the most underrated movie ever. Lots of magic (and fantastic acting) at work here 5 stars
7/25/02 Zargo nice 4 stars
3/16/02 joe this is the most fuckin shities book ever 1 stars
1/30/02 chester nabrasker good nudity 1 stars
1/02/02 Andrew Carden I Liked The Book, but Couldnt' Connect To This. 2 stars
5/08/01 Gracy Lionheart I loved Much Ado About Nothing and Taming Of The Shrew, but this didn't float my boat. 2 stars
6/25/00 Naushad Khanji Directors should not waste time translating dated 16th century plays. 2 stars
3/08/00 Kyle Broflovski My favorite Shakespeare play, aside from "Hamlet" 4 stars
12/22/99 Goodfellow A wondrous movie, bottomlessly mirthful and entertaining. A masterpiece 5 stars
8/18/99 Franco Ugazzi 5 stars
8/01/99 Blue sky I loved Kevin Kline as Bottom 5 stars
7/30/99 Thantalos beautifull castle setting, origninal dialog worked better than "R&J in LA gangs" 5 stars
7/10/99 Amanda A relatively good take on one of my favorites. The sets in the Faery Forest are exquisite. 4 stars
7/09/99 bridgette eh... good at times, boring at others. 3 stars
6/10/99 MRHOLLYWOOD !! Great,solid acting......but lame........sorry shakespeariens! 2 stars
6/08/99 Lashan Lynn I liked it. I saw it with a girl, and it was and is a great DATE movie. Not great, but good 4 stars
6/07/99 jules fucking lame! 2 stars
5/28/99 Feral Completely forgettable yet enjoyable fluff with intermittently solid acting. 4 stars
5/28/99 pipeman I really enjoyed this film. It was beautifully done. MichelleP was only adequate though. 5 stars
5/17/99 Mr Showbiz Not for lack of talent, Hoffman's adaptation is joyless and uninspired. 3 stars
5/15/99 Bats Don't expect high-tech effects, just some solid acting from most of the cast. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-May-1999 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  20-May-1999 (M)




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