The Tempest. Starring Helen Mirren as Prospero (or Prospera). First of all, I have to say I love this concept. Considering how much Shakespeare tends to play with gender roles (literally and figuratively), this is a mild change, but I also love Helen Mirren, so I was eager to see this one.
The movie itself is pretty luscious. It was filmed in Hawaii, and they took advantage of everything from rich jungle to volcanic barren landscapes. The costumes were detailed and all of the era. The only thing that ever felt out of place was the occasional rock guitar riff.
The special effects were sometimes spot on and sometimes looked a little cheap. Don't get me wrong, they worked well enough that you can always tell what's going on. Just if you watch this brace yourself for the occasional wince at a corny special effect.
Still, it is Shakespeare, and the majority of the film is about the people and the language. And the casting in this is superb. There were definitely some faces that I would not associate with Shakespeare -- but I think a match up like that, when it works (and it does here) makes it all the better for being surprising. E.g.:
I was a little lost at first, as far as what was being said (in spite of having been in the Tempest at one point) but if you're having trouble at the beginning, it's just because there's, well, a tempest, and everyone is yelling -- give it another five minutes and I think even the casual Shakespeare fan won't have any trouble following the dialog.
All things considered, I found this to be a very enjoyable and interesting take on one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I hope you'll check it out.