Instantly, I’m pretty amused with this movie, if only because the guy playing Sampson is the spitting image of one of my brother’s coworkers. Main difference being this dude is rocking a British accent and not a thick Southern drawl.
Fortunately, Rickman pops up within a few minutes as he instigates a fight with the rival Montague family, and it is kind of funny how it seems to take him for-fucking-ever to materialize after his presence is announced by a random character. Seriously, they casually observe Tybalt is around and then they fight for quite some time before he actually intervenes.
Fortunately, when he shows up, his leaping jump into action is pretty awesome and quite fitting for the Prince of Cats. I’d make a GIF out of it, but I watched this as a rental on Amazon Prime, and I don’t think I can. Sadly, a screencap doesn’t do it justice. You need to see it unfold in real time to savor it.
It also makes up for the shock of seeing Rickman young and skinny and in goofy period clothing. It’s not like I hadn’t seen photos of him in this movie before. I knew he was in his early 30s, much younger than the 40-ish, 50-ish, 60-ish Rickman I was familiar with, but it’s still surprising to actually watch him onscreen at that age.
It’s not the same jolt of seeing someone you have watched age and then being reminded that they were once young. (Like watching any movie with a child star in it after you’re used to seeing them as adults and being reminded, “Oh, yeah, you used to look like that! Damn, you’ve aged.”) It’s more of the vague sense of confusion you experience when you see someone you’ve always known as an adult in child form. You know it’s them and can even see how that person totally grew up to be adult them, but it’s still jarring.
And that’s not even counting the horror of seeing someone not only freakishly younger than you remember them ever being but also sporting questionable hair and silly clothes. Fortunately for Rickman in Romeo and Juliet, everyone else in this movie also has bad 70s hair and unfortunate tights, so he doesn’t really stand out on that count. And despite being a decade younger than I’m used to seeing him at his youngest, he’s already rocking the trademark sneer and he also already has that wonderful, distinctive voice. I especially liked his sinister line reading of the “As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee” line here at the beginning.
Anyway, he promptly joins in the fight because senseless fighting is kind of Tybalt’s thing. I also particularly enjoyed the little moment of him kicking over a basket to goad on the fight after it initially seemed to be settling down. That’s the antagonistic Rickman we all know and love! It does look like he gets kicked in the balls in response, though. Was it worth it, Tybalt?
Next page: Plot developments/general thoughts!