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Released: October 28th 2011 (UK)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Stars: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave

Certificate: 12a (UK)

Director: Ross Goddard

William Shakespeare, the most famous play writer of all time. Period. Many a school child has agonized over doing some Shakespeare at school. Many a modern day actor have more then likely performed a play, over some point of there career. But a big question is posed by Roland Emmerich of ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Day after tomorrow’ fame, latest offering. So you get the picture, he is treading on different ground here, and a risky bit of ground to suggest that Shakespeare was a fraud.

In the back drop of Tudor England, the Earl of Oxford, Edward De Vere (Rhys Ifans) searches for a lowly playwright to take all the credit from the plays he actually writes himself, when Ben Jonson rejects the Earls idea, In steps the bumbling Will Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) to lap up the fame, money and credit. Not only is the alleged fraud of the plays, there is a bigger story which includes an aging Queen Elizabeth (Vanessa Redgrave) and the plan for her succession.

My first impression of this movie is, it’s quite a mixed bag. Well the scenes flipped between very comedy led ones and then to a very serious drama scenes, so it’s a bit confusing. The likes of Rafe Spall, who is a brilliant young actor, really looks out of place in this. Emmerich really needed to work out what he wanted with this. There are going to be big enemy’s of this film to suggest such a hero, is a fraud, shock, horror. It would be like saying that Lennon and McCartney did not write any of the Beatles songs.

The strong points is obviously the very realistic Tudor England, which it’s what I imagined it would be like way back then. Finally a very good performance by Rhys Ifans, who about time should be showing his chops. Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis and Edward Hogg all deserve a mention for some good performances.

Not good I’m afraid. With a few flaws this has fallen short by a long shot. Next time we will see Ifans is in the new Spider-Man movie as the main baddie the Lizard! As I said, this a very unfamiliar ground for Roland Emmerich, maybe try better next time.

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