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Time Out says
This triumphant take on the Crookback king is as different from Olivier's '50s historical pageant as chalk is from malmsey. It starts in some vague, post-WWI civil-war period: a ritzy function, a jazz band, a crooner belting out lines from the wrong author - Marlowe! But the ambience soon assumes the fractured pomp of the original, superbly realised in the remastered southern landscapes: Brighton Pavilion, St Pancras turned into a seaside palace, the Armageddon of Bosworth Field played out with Battersea Power Station as a backdrop. The reasoning behind the film was to bring classical actor McKellen together with a director who has avoided the Bard; the result is a fresh, unified vision which may add lines and make cuts, but does a fine job of turning Shakespeare's grand design into a veritable world at war. With Scott-Thomas' loveless Lady Anne fixing up in the back of a Rolls; Downey and Bening as out-of-favour American Nevilles; Broadbent as a pucker, pissed-off Buckingham; and Hawthorne as a sonorous Clarence pacing his last steps amid rain and concrete, the piece is awash with talent and imagery. McKellen is a marvellous demon king: unctuous, snarling, taking the throne like Hitler at a Nuremberg rally. A seamless, high-octane thriller of power and politics, one for today and tomorrow.