Rated 1.0

Maybe Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare. Maybe he was actually Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, anonymously propagating poetic theatrical subversion and political intrigue that culminated in the Essex Rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I. Sure, and maybe Roland Emmerich is just the filmmaker to tell us all about it. The only big reveal here is the embarrassing intellectual insecurity of a grandstanding disaster-epic hack assailing the Bard’s reputation. It’s ironic given the snobbery of this particular conspiracy theory, which holds that only a nobleman, not some humble-born Stratford kid, could have written such lofty stuff. A credit to the theorists, at least, the movie doesn’t even understand or care about what makes the stuff so lofty. There’s talk about the importance of “the work,” but obviously no ear for poetry or feel for theater, let alone for human nature. Most scenes, inchoherent to begin with, also are so cheesily overacted that even famous English actors somehow sound like they’re doing stage-faked English accents. The cast includes Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Derek Jacobi, Sebastian Armesto and Rafe Spall. The screenwriter is John Orloff. The takeaway is Emmerich’s usual idea of showmanship, not coincidentally an epitome of sound and fury signifying nothing.