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Richard III

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Watching the splendid Ian McKellen embody any Shakespeare character is always a pleasure, and his slithery portrayal here of the Bard’s most hissable villain is a treat. But the usually astute McKellen, who was also one of the film’s prime movers behind the scenes, goes awry in setting this Richard III in pre-WWII Britain. He doesn’t shoehorn the actual events of the time into the story but tries to draw analogies between Richard’s power-mad schemings and the popularity of fascism. The graft doesn’t take, since Shakespeare’s Richard was utterly indifferent to ideology. And since video diminishes the scope of Richard’s Nuremberg-esque rallies, McKellen’s invalid point becomes even less relevant. Ace dialogue, though. B-