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A Midsummer Night's Dream review

Fairies with sewn-on wings and glitter all over their faces, frolicking in a plastic-looking forest... Ahh, the magic of modern cinema. A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, has made its way back to the big screen - but, oddly, without all the FX-finery on offer from the '90s.

Hoffman's piece is the latest in a mixed bag of cinematic Shakespeare re-jigs. The play's characters are transported from their original Greek setting to early 20th-century Tuscany, a sweeping vista of villas, piazzas and countryside. It opens well, with small lights darting about during preparations for a sumptuous feast as the scene-setting prologue scrolls down the screen to introduce the charmingly funny, likeable cast.

But once the action shifts to the enchanted forest something frightening happens. Realism comes crashing down and we're shoved into a prefab world of foam-rubber rocks, manufactured trees and fairies in am-dram costumes. Recent fantasies like FairyTale: A True Story have shown just how convincing Puck's friends can be on the big screen, but Hoffman either didn't have the budget required to achieve similarly impressive visuals, or - for some reason - deliberately chose not to take the CGI path. Special effects are few and far between and, despite strong performances from Pfeiffer and Everett, the magical world falls flat. Fabric wings and over-the-top costumes don't make for believable sprites, no matter how much glitter you sprinkle on them.

Kline just about manages to pull this section along but you can't help wishing that they'd hurry up and get back to the Tuscan reality. There is a great movie and a talented cast hidden somewhere in there - knock down the clunky polystyrene obstacles and you might just find them.

A tale of fairies, lovers and actors may not be everyone's idea of a great night out, but the acting in this Shakespearean comedy more than compensates for the lack of visual magic. Not the greatest update ever, but worth a look anyway.

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