Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
May 2022

I always find it at least interesting when a writer or director takes a work and then turns it around to look at it from the viewpoint of one of the characters in it. I say “interesting” because such attempts do not always work out well. Indeed, many of them suffer from many of the all-too-common flaws of what I call “vanity films”; that is, movies where the producer, screenwriter, director, and primary actor are all the same individual. Such movies often suffer, because there is no one to tell the producer/scriptwriter/director/actor that his or her vanity project might be improved with a little restraint here or there, that parts of the story may demonstrate confused motivations, that the film might be better without certain scenes or with some scenes added to better explain the story arc, or that maybe the whole project has gone off the rails and needs a thorough rethinking. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood.) Still, sometimes it works, or at least mostly works, and it’s a joy to watch when that happens. And so it is with this month’s movie. I went into it with not terribly high hopes, having seen way too many failures over the years, but this movie frankly exceeded my expectations, and I actually enjoyed watching it. Thus it is that this month, Da’ud Bob reviews for you 2018's Ophelia.

Starring Daisy Ridley (best known as Rey in the final Star Wars trilogy in the title role as Ophelia), George MacKay as Prince Hamlet, Naomi Watts in a dual role as Queen Gertrude and as her sister Mechtild, Nathaniel Parker as King Hamlet, Clive Owen as Claudius, Dominic Mafham as Polonius, Tom Felton as Laertes, Devon Terrell as Horatio, Noel Czuczor as Rosencrantz, and Martin Angerbauer as Guildenstern, just from the cast of characters you can tell that this is a retelling of the well-known story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark but as seen from the point of view of Polonius’ daughter Ophelia. The film does not slavishly follow every twist and turn of Hamlet, choosing instead to change some things around, adding background stories at times, and creating a way for Ophelia to live past the end of the movie.

Good points: The flags (most notably the Dannebrog, the Danish flag) and heraldic banners. The heraldic stained glass windows. The costuming was quite passable, though sometimes from a mix of periods. Real chain mail. Nice helms. The “forgiven/forgotten” wordplay between Ophelia and Hamlet. There were a number of times when the dialogue incorporated bits and pieces from Hamlet, sometimes in different situations or between different characters, but making the film feel more “familiar” and making a nice homage to Shakespeare’s original.

Bad points: The weird makeup at the masquerade dance. Talking about a snake venom “from the New World”, but the costuming places the film in an era well before Columbus. The natural scenery is far too mountainous to be Denmark. (It was filmed in the Czech Republic, which does have a lot of mountains.) The armor came from several different periods. I’m not sure how I feel about Hamlet actually marrying Ophelia, in secret, à la Romeo and Juliet. It tended to take me out of this play and into that one. Ophelia reading a romance book to Gertrude. (All I could think of was those lines from The Music Man about “smutty books. Shakespeare. Rabelais. Ballllllzac!”)

Zero breasts. ¼ gallon of blood. 22 dead bodies. Sword fu. Glass fu. Potion fu. Torch fu. Poison fu. Waves roll. Gratuitous jester. Gratuitous bath. Gratuitous cave. Gratuitous snake. Gratuitous skulls. (No, really.) Gratuitous tapestry. Gratuitous peacock. A mere 39 on the Vomit Meter. 3½ Stars. Da’ud Bob says, “New perspectives on old stories don’t always come off well, but this one really works for the most part. It far exceeded my (admittedly modest) expectations. Check it out!”

Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

The Northman
Now playing in theaters
The Northman is an epic revenge thriller that explores how far a Viking prince will go to seek justice for his murdered father. (Why does this sound just like Hamlet? Well, the fact that the main character's name is given as "Amleth" might be a clue.) Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Björk, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Björk, and Ethan Hawke.
The Monkey King: The Legend Begins
November 4, 2022
The re-imagined version by Hollywood of the film The Monkey King: Havoc in Heavens Palace, the origin and birthplace of the Monkey King story. Starring Donnie Yen, Chow Yun-Fat, Aaron Kwok, Peter Ho.
Dungeons and Dragons
March 3, 2023
Plot undisclosed at this time, but like earlier iterations it is based on the tabletop role-playing game. Directed John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, starring Regé-Jean Page, Chris Pine, Hugh Grant, Michelle Rodriguez, and Justice Smith.

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