Richard III is a fast and dry chronicling of the tale of three brothers, Richard (Ian McKellen), Clarence (Nigel Hawthorne), and Edward (John Wood). In the beginning, the King of England and his son are assassinated by Richard. After the King's death, Edward ascends the throne, but a power-hungry and ambitious Richard is close on his heels. Revealing his motives while directly speaking to the audience, he proceeds to marry Lady Anne (Kristin Scott-Thomas), the wife of the dead King's son. Richard then dispatches Clarence. King Edward, upon hearing the news of Clarence's death, succumbs to ill health. Richard then proceeds to deal with the Queen's brother (Robert Downey Jr.), her children, and his wife, to get to the throne (as you can tell, there's a lot of killing and it's hard to tell in the movie who's who and whose side they're on). After Richard is crowned King, he immediately faces the task of defending his Kingdom against the forces of Henry Richmond (Dominic West).
What makes this version spectacular however is the modern-day setting of this Shakespearean classic: set in the 1930s, Richard III is depicted as a despotic dictator, with imagery invoking that of Nazi Germany. What makes this movie work beyond the setting, is the ability of the actors to handle the Shakespearean dialogue in a natural manner. Contrast this with this year's Romeo and Juliet which attempts a similar fast-forward of a Shakespearean classic but fails in this respect. The other thing going for Richard III is that even though we know Richard is a dastardly villain, McKellen plays him in a very charmismatic manner and at the end, one can't but help empathise with him when he self-destructs.
There's not a thing wrong with this movie: all the performances are brilliant, all the lines are delivered appropriately, the editing is terse and to the point (which makes the actual events go by too fast, but this is probably for the best), and the cinematography is excellent. It's definitely worth seeing.