Movie review by Susan Hodgetts
Starring: Michael Flatley, Bernadette Flynn, Tom Cunningham, Ciara Sexton
Director: Marcus Viner
This entertainment extravaganza is great fun to watch but it’s difficult to ignore a clip-clopping Michael Flatley-shaped ego hoofing its way round the stage and grinning through the cameras. If this film were a stick of rock it would surely have the initials from his sparkly showman’s jacket threaded through its candied core.
This is Flatley’s film: his determination, his choreography and his vision, although, to his credit, here he has ceded to film director Marcus Viner (who also directed KylieX for film) for cinematographic capture, in case he does not manage to make it around the globe again.
For in 2006, Flatley was diagnosed with a mysterious illness, one that left him so debilitated it was feared he would die, let alone be able to walk again. Maybe one would end up a bit of an egotist if one had fought as hard, and consistently, as Flatley. With an eight minute backstage introduction, it’s apparent that LORD OF THE DANCE is his life, and that this is a man who has always known his purpose. Recorded late last year, mostly in Dublin where the original show premiered, this is an emotional love letter to his best known work.
Moving away briefly from the phenomenon that is MF to the content of the film itself, this is a big budget re-telling of an ancient Irish folk tale that won’t disappoint either newcomers or existing fans.
The fate of Ireland lies in the balance as the Lord of the Dance (Flatley) and Don Dorcha, the Dark Lord (Tom Cunningham) battle for dominance in an epic duel of good versus evil.
The contemporary and traditional Irish dancing is showcased beautifully with Ronan Hardiman’s whimsical and affecting score. And Flatley is good but so is his well-drilled troupe. One can imagine his drilling of his army on stage is nothing but a real-life demonstration. It’s a compliment to him that they at least equal his skill, excel even. Tom Cunningham, as the Dark Lord, proves a worthy adversary.
Michael Jackson-style antics and costumes do nothing to tone down the MF machine, and why he feels the need for a sequinned jacket bearing his by now ubiquitous initials is a mystery. But try not to let it ruin an enjoyable spectacle, for without Flatley’s drive, there would be no LORD OF THE DANCE.