2010 Certificate: pg


Prospero changes sex to become Prospera (Helen Mirren) in Julie Taymor's gender-bending adaptation of Shakespeare's fantastical thriller. After beng banished to a desert island with her young daughter by her duplicitous brother Antonio (Chris Cooper), Prospera gets her chance for revenge when she conjures up a storm to drive those who wronged her ashore... and on to her turf. Solid support comes from Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou and Russell Brand as drunken jester Trinculo.


  • Julie Taymor


  • Helen Mirren

  • Alfred Molina

  • Russell Brand

  • Chris Cooper

  • Alan Cumming


The Bard gets yet another cinematic reinvention in this big screen adaptation of Shakespeare's supernatural tragi-comedy.

Director Julie Taymor, who previously reworked Titus Andronicus for cinema, changes the sex of banished magician Prospero to Prospera but hangs onto the iambic pentameter.

She also manages to attract a high-calibre A-list of luvvies, notably Helen Mirren as Prospera, Chris Cooper as Antonio and Russell Brand providing some much-needed manic comic relief as Trinculo.

Prospera, the Duchess of Milan, is banished together with her daughter Miranda (Jones) for practising the black arts and eventually washes up on a remote island (in this case, Hawaii).

Revenge comes quickly when Antonio together with David Strathairn's King of Naples hove into view and she whips up a storm to shipwreck their vessel on her island.

Successful Shakespeare movies such as Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet and Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus cleverly update the story while preserving the tone and dialogue of the original.

However, Taymor's Tempest may whip up a special effect storm yet never engages as a compelling narrative: the characters remain vague and distant.

It doesn't help that dialogue which demands concentration also has to compete with a soundtrack that makes it all but inaudible, particularly the signature gale which drowns out every character's exchange.

This is one adaptation that won't be going down a storm.