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Justin Kurzel
Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris, David Thewlis
Writing Credits:
Todd Louiso, Jacob Koskoff and Michael Lesslie

Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$69,833 on 5 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $26.99
Release Date: 3/8/2016

• “Making Macbeth” Featurette
• Q&A with Michael Fassbender
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Macbeth [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 21, 2016)

Fresh off his Oscar-nominated turn in Steve Jobs, Michael Fassbender takes on an even more legendary character in 2015’s Macbeth. Adapted from the classic Shakespeare play, we learn that Scotland becomes consumed by civil war, as Macdonwald (Hilton McRae) attempts to dethrone King Duncan (David Thewlis). Macbeth (Fassbender) takes the king’s final reserves to fight against Macdonwald’s forces and settle matters.

At the Battle of Ellon, Macbeth emerges victorious – and with a new mission in mind. Four witches foresee that Macbeth will become king, so he attempts to make their vision a reality. We follow this path as well as pitfalls that emerge along the way for Macbeth and his wife (Marion Cotillard).

Though that synopsis makes it sound like Macbeth takes a while to place the main character on the throne, that doesn’t prove to be true. Macbeth murders Duncan and becomes king in relatively short order.

Because of this, the story mainly concentrates on the weight the crown places on his head, especially related to Macbeth’s paranoia and his efforts to ensure his continued reign. We follow the darkness that envelops him and the violent ways he attempts to quash perceived competition.

This cinematic adaptation thrives in the way it tells this dark tale. Without dumbing-down the material, it gives Macbeth an unusually accessible feel, and this means it allows the occasionally bitter medicine that is Shakespearean language go down smoothly.

Indeed, director Justin Kurzel tells Macbeth in such a strong visual manner that dialogue becomes less crucial than otherwise might be the case. That allows the lines to prosper: because the on-screen action conveys so much of the tone and content, the audience doesn’t have to struggle to understand the words. We comprehend the dialogue through context, and that leaves us more open to the enjoyment of the writing for its own sake. The lines pack more power because we don’t fret about “interpreting” them in a modern manner.

Kurzel’s Macbeth gives us a dark and moody piece that tells the story in an efficient way. Again, this lets the nuances come through well, as we find it easy to understand the tale’s events and characters. Sometimes when I watch movies based on Shakespeare, I feel a bit lost, but that never occurs during the tight and concise Macbeth.

An excellent cast helps. Both Fassbender and Cotillard add depth to their roles, as they eschew the hammy clichés often attached to Shakespeare and deliver their lines in a wonderfully natural manner. This becomes another tool that allows the characters to feel real and not like awkward stage creations. While the lines may be poetic and artful, they still come across as believable.

I really do appreciate the absence of excessive melodrama here, as this Macbeth seems much more muscular and engaging than the usual Shakespearean adaptation. Aided by strong acting and vivid visuals, this becomes an involving version of the story that immediately turns into one of the better Shakespearean films to date,

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Macbeth appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie featured a positive presentation.

Sharpness was usually positive. A smidgen of softness appeared, but the movie mostly demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. I witnessed no instances of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared absent. Source flaws also failed to interfere.

Colors stayed extremely subdued. For all intents and purposes, this was often a monochromatic presentation, with a chilly teal orientation on display much of the time; some oranges and reds materialized as well, but not often. The colors didn’t have much to do, but they were fine within the visual constraints.

Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows showed generally positive delineation. Some low-light shots seemed slightly murky, but not to an extreme, and these came as part of a high-contrast visual design. In the end, the image was fine.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Macbeth, it tended toward an atmospheric feel. Music offered a nearly omnipresent factor, and effects veered toward a moody sensibility.

Nonetheless, those effects added some involvement at times. Storms contributed active material, and battles showed lively audio as well. Though the mix remained environmental much of the time, it came to life when necessary.

Audio quality was also good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems. Music was rich and full, while effects were also bright and bold, with nice low-end to boot. The mix suited the film.

Minor extras fill out the disc. Making Macbeth runs seven minutes, 55 seconds and includes comments from director Justin Kurzel, producer Iain Canning, and actors Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. The show looks at adaptation/story/character areas, cast and performances, the film’s setting and tone, and Kurzel’s impact on the production. “Making” comes with a handful of good notes but remains fairly superficial.

A Q&A with Michael Fassbender goes for 20 minutes, 12 12 seconds and features the actor’s October 2015 chat in NYC. Fassbender discusses the adaptation and his take on his role, co-stars and performances, and other filming areas. Fassbender offers a decent collection of comments, though I can’t say we learn anything revelatory. I remain disappointed the disc lacks an audio commentary.

The disc opens with ads for The Hateful Eight, Southpaw, and Carol. No trailer for Macbeth shows up here.

One of the best adaptations of Shakespeare to hit the screens, Macbeth boasts excellent acting and a dark tone. These factors combine to create a deep, brooding take on the material that soars. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio but it lacks substantial supplements. Macbeth becomes a total winner.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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