I went to see the sneak preview of “Anonymous”, the new movie by Roland Emmerich, whom the critics have always dismissed as a rather lowbrow producer of admittedly spectacular disaster movies. As a rule, he is strong on visual effects and weak on storyline, but hey: who cares as long as the good guys win and the aliens are vanquished in the end.
Presumably, Emmerich wanted to prove his critics wrong by making a movie about Shakespeare. Unfortunately, all he succeeded in doing was to prove how right they are.
“Anonymous” is an insipid, at times even boring hodgepodge of faux literary history, royal incest, oedipal conflict, and behind-the-scenes power struggles by men in wigs and petticoat breeches.
As a spectator, the only things that kept me awake were the occasional swordfights and the short dramatic climax, during which the Earl of Essex and his men are trapped in a courtyard with soldiers firing down on them like shooting fish in a barrel.
Unhappily, even this isn’t original. In fact the entire scene is lifted straight from Eliza Kazan’s 1952 production of John Steinbeck’s “Viva Zapata!”.
If you ask me, “Anonymous” is a true movie disaster. But then again, I guess that’s what you can expect from a director of disaster movies.