The Hollow Crown - Series Review


Series Length: Just under 9 hours in ~2-hour episodes. (Richard II is 2.5 hours and Henry V is 2 hours 18 minutes)

Could I have watched this with my Dad? : Yes.

Could I have watched this with my Mom? : Probably.

Language: None. (Although, do be warned these do all use the original Shakespearean language. It is not modern English at all. I know that's not what I meant by "language," but from the Amazon reviews, apparently some people watching this series expected it to be a modern adaptation, so I just thought I would warn you.)

Sex/Romance: There is the slightest bit of romance, and just a bit of naked people. The worst of it is in Henry IV Part 1.

Violence/Gore: Yes, there are some very well done battles in Henry IV and Henry V. Richard II had do I put this delicately?...let's say, heads will roll.

Music: Majestic and often chilling in the first "episode" (Richard II). Appropriate and well done but not that remarkable in Henry IV or Henry V.

Did I feel the need to leave the lights off and sit in silence afterward? : After Richard II, yes. After Henry IV and Henry V? Not so much.


Richard II: Exquisite. Richly detailed. Really hit home with the tragedy of it all. The bass in the music was amazing, and I even got chills from the music on occasion. The actors all had a remarkable depth, but especially Ben Whishaw. What a phenomenal actor. I liked him, then disliked him, then was a bit disdainful, and in the end found a great pity and sorrow. How amazing that one actor could pull so much from the character of Richard II. I was in awe though, at how I felt deeply for almost every character. Such a small moment, one facial expression or a change of inflection in a sentence, can make a huge impact. I also loved how they made such a distinction between Richard II as a man born into royalty who never knew anything else and Bolingbroke as a man and a warrior who knows the realities of life outside of royalty.

Henry IV: As "episodes" it is split into two parts so that in total the whole of Henry IV clocks in at 4 hours. And while I LOVE Tom Hiddleston...this one was a slog. The language was much harder to follow. Some of that could be the text, but at least part of it was the actors and/or director. Either I couldn't pick up the meaning because of poor delivery, or the lines were just spat out so fast that even if they were delivered well my brain had no time to process and I didn't have time to figure out what they were trying to say. Also, the plot really seemed to lack drive in this one. That feels to be more on Shakespeare and the original history he was working with, but also on how he structured the play with the scenes with Falstaff and others breaking up the action all the time and slowing everything down. Speaking of Falstaff...while I originally felt sorry for him, I very quickly grew to hate him, and then it quickly spread to anybody he was involved with (except Harry, of course). And what was the point of his parts? It felt nonsensical and tangential to the main plot at best. And as another blow, while several characters remained the same from Richard II, the actors had changed. This did make sense since we had jumped ahead quite a few years, but it confused me pretty badly as I was already dealing with tedious language and now people were called the same names but looked totally different and I just could not keep track of them all. Finally, most of the actors had no effect on my emotions. I couldn't feel for most of the characters. There were brief moments where things got good, but in an epic adaptation such as this, the acting should not be good only in certain moments. Really a disappointment. For good points, though, Tom Hiddleston was pretty to look at, and the battles were well done. And let's be honest, it was certainly better than just reading the play.

Henry V: Bardolph came in to replace Falstaff and it was annoying, but thankfully he didn't stick around very long. I was really grateful that they kept the same actors this time. And Tom Hiddleston does make a pretty amazing Henry V. My main question, (besides what the heck did the ending mean??), was why did Henry deliver his famous Crispin's Day speech to only his few generals? Shouldn't he be inspiring his whole army with this? It seems odd that when they are facing such great odds that he would just leave his army to go talk to his generals and give them and only them his big inspiring speech. This one did have more drive in the plot, and I did find it rather fascinating learning about Henry V and his life and different facets of his character and personality, but overall I wasn't in love with this movie either.

Overall Series: Richard II felt completely separate from Henry IV and Henry V. Different styles, different actors, different music styles, different impact, just so very, very different. The two Henrys fitting together did make a lot of sense, though. By the end, I kind of wished I had just watched Richard II and moved on, but I do want to watch The War of the Roses series next, and I feel like I will need to have watched all three to be ready for that, so...I guess it was ok.

Quality Across the Series: If you are in for just some good Shakespeare, I feel like you could just watch Richard II. If you want to go on to watch The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, you might need to watch them all. If you don't even care and just want to see Tom Hiddleston, then Enjoy! Henry IV and especially Henry V.

Richard II -⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Henry IV Part 1 - ⭐⭐

Henry IV Part 2 - ⭐⭐

Henry V - ⭐⭐⭐

Was this a good use of several nights with the house to myself? : It was OK.

In the End: 3 out of 5 stars. I could've stopped at Richard II honestly.

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