When Baz Luhrmann brought Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
to the big screen in 1996, he modernized the piece with wit and creativity. Ralph Fiennes, an undeniably talented actor (the Bard is his forte), is unable to match Luhrmann’s work as a director with his own screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus
, a lesser-known play about a Roman general (Fiennes again). There’s political unrest in present-day Rome, and Coriolanus, once lauded as a hero, is banished, seeking revenge on the city by joining his enemy, Aufidius (Gerard Butler). For a story of betrayal and battle, it’s consistently dull, existing in limbo between a contemporary retelling (incorporating skype, modern warfare) and mere recitation of Shakespearean dialogue in ambiguous settings (Coriolanus' exile from Rome is broadcast on TV). Even the most climactic scene, in which his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) tries to salvage his humanity, is excruciatingly stagnant.