Director Justin Kurzel's take on Shakespeare's famous tale of greed and ambition is as ruthlessly ambitious as its protagonist.

It's a dramatic, atmospheric retelling of the tragedy which sees Michael Fassbender on top form in the titular role, while Marion Cotillard is superb as Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth was shot on location in Scotland, with the misty moors providing the perfect backdrop to the dramatic tale. It's a story that is familiar to many. Macbeth is a fearless Scottish general who successfully wins a bloody battle on behalf of King Duncan (David Thewlis), who names him of Thane of Scotland. He is visited by three witches who foretell his rise to greatness as the King of Scotland. Consumed by this prophecy and spurred on by his coldly persuasive wife, he commits regicide and takes the throne for himself.

The Macbeths power-grabbing journey is depicted with great nuance and originality. As Fassbender delivers the famous line that his mind is "full of scorpions" a tortured grin spreads across his face, hinting at the madness within. Cotillard's take on Lady Macbeth is just as powerful. She portrays wells of emotion bubbling under the surface with great subtlety, her eyes capable of conveying a multitude in just a glance.

The two spectacularly well-cast leads aside, there's a wealth of talent in the supporting roles, from Irish actor Jack Reynor as Malcolm, the rightful heir to Duncan's throne, Paddy Considine as Banquo and Sean Harris as Macduff.

The battle scenes are among the most memorable and idiosyncratic - shown in agonising slow motion which makes a welcome change from the usual lightning speed of modern action scenes. Another creative decision that was wonderfully realised was the the increasingly dramatic colour rendering, which at times gives the film a painterly appearance and makes the moors of Scotland look saturated in blood.

Kurzel succeeds in making the big-screen adaptation feel less 'stagey' due to the incredible cinematography and impressive score from the director's brother, Jed Kurzel, which elevates this adaptation beyond the ordinary.

Sarah McIntyre