From the first frames of relative newcomer Justin Kurzel's adaptation, it becomes apparent that his method of putting his stamp on the prose is to, well, ruthlessly pare away much of the prose. While the Big Scenes are rendered with a ravishing starkness, the connective tissue that's allowed to remain tends to fall away into a low-toned dirge. Even those viewers unfamiliar with the source material may sometimes feel like they're flipping through a brutally gorgeous set of CliffsNotes.... Shot through a hellish red filter, Kurzel's knack for apocalyptic imagery slams into full focus, while Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) locates the vainglorious core that makes the play persist. Scholars and purists may still be left clutching their chests at what has been chucked over the side, but those roaring final moments ultimately make this Macbeth hard to shake. What it gets right is almost enough to convince you that you're watching a masterpiece. ANDREW WRIGHT

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Justin Kurzel
Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine

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