Cymbeline is a play by William Shakespeare. Cymbeline told the story of King Cymbeline of Ancient Britain and his war with Rome. Of course, like many Shakespearian tales, this story also had to do with forbidden love. This new movie, put together by an all-star cast, is an updated version of Shakespeare's play, and I use updated specifically. This is not modern, despite what it looks like, because there is no way anything like this would ever exist in the real world.
"Cymbeline" is another in a string of Shakespearian stories brought to the big screen where they put the Shakespearian dialogue in the middle of a modern setting. Shakespeare may have been a writer who was before his time, but his time has since passed. Using his original dialogue with modern sets and periods creates an oddly strange experience that I get nothing out of. Shakespeare told his stories in a very specific way, and for a equally specific time period. Merely putting his dialogue in a modern setting doesn't keep his legacy going, it doesn't add a new twist nor does it heighten the tale in a cool way. Bringing Shakespeare's writings into a modern setting just doesn't work, and "Cymbeline" is just another example of why it does not work.
This movie is filled with the likes of Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Dakota Johnson, Ethan Hawke, Bill Pullman, Delroy Lindo and Anton Yelchin. These are all actors I adore, actors I have enjoyed all my life and they are all flat here. The dialogue does not match the scenes at all, there is nothing clever or unique matching Shakespeare's classic dialogue with leather jackets and IPads, it all just comes off silly. Instead of two countries fighting one another, Cymbeline is a drug dealer within a biker gang who is at odds with the Roman military, aka the police force. So once again, certain plot points just come off odd since this movie does not take place in ancient times, the setting does not match the dialogue, which makes a very odd movie. All actors appear flat trying to recite the witty dialogue Shakespeare is famous for. What also adds to the strangeness of the movie is how at one moment the actors are speaking the original dialogue and others they are singing songs in common English. What?
After "Fifty Shades of Grey" and now this, I can firmly say that Dakota Johnson maybe the worst actress of her generation. I think I could manage sitting through fifty rounds of "Twilight" with Kristen Stewart before I would sit through another Dakota Johnson movie. I think I would sit through anything Shailene Woodley puts out yearly before sitting through another Dakota Johnson movie. I have never witnessed somebody so clueless when it comes to character or theme and finding any way to resonate with those. In this movie, she literally just stands and recites her dialogue then leaves. She puts to power or emotion into anything she does. To watch her become an overnight sensation for two shitty movies is the stuff of Hollywood that makes my stomach churn.
Plus, for a crime movie, "Cymbeline" is never very gritty. It never feels real nor hyper-fantasy. It looks like the makers of this movie watch a little too much "Sons of Anarchy" and had no idea how to make something like it their own. All "Cymbeline" adds up to are stiff A-Listers, spouting out Shakespeare over a mundane violin. It never becomes anything more than that.
FINAL GRADE: D-