Hamlet - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Hamlet Reviews

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May 14, 2016
Kenneth Branagh stars and directs in this beautiful, well-casted, and unabridged adaptation of the Shakespeare classic. Really good.
April 3, 2016
Abigail recommendation
March 4, 2016
Kenneth Branagh annoys me so much. I get the feeling that he is trying way too hard to try and form his own social class positioned slightly above upper where him and Emma Thompson and the rest of the Shakespeare luvvies preside. I have nothing against making a film in the original language of Shakey but FOR FOUR HOURS!! It's a bit difficult to concentrate on every line for four bloody hours, and you do need to concentrate if each two minute sentance is to be understood properly. This is, needless to say further, a very hard film to get through, even all the familiar faces don't come close to spicing it up. By the way, I quite like the story of Hamlet an all.
February 25, 2016
The definitive Hamlet, four beautiful, exciting hours of towering literature brought to the screen in style.
February 4, 2016
I sat through this thing when it came out. While I appreciate Branagh's efforts to create a complete production of the play, I thought it not well done. Many things that the play barely implied, such as the sexual relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia, we included explicitly, as if a modern audience needs to see actual flesh. The editing was weird and very choppy, and Branagh didn't make a very convincing Hamlet. I'm surprised it's been so highly praised...
December 12, 2015
A spectacular, thrilling and exacting adaption of Shakespeare's that is beautifully filmed and well acted.
September 27, 2015
"Hamlet" de Kenneth Branagh es sin duda la adaptación más fiel a la obra teatral de Shakespeare. Plasmada de forma colosal y sin olvidar ninguno de sus diálogos o sus escenas y sobretodo por mostrar un excelente trabajo del director y los actores tan capaces de seguirlo en su ambiciosa adaptación.
September 9, 2015
Easily my favorite Shakespeare adaptation so far
June 10, 2015
holy shit this was good
May 21, 2015
really interesting take on the Bard's play
May 12, 2015
The ultimate Shakespeare cinematic experience. It's four hours long, but not a second is wasted as Kenneth Branagh utilizes every line of the original 'Hamlet' script. Forget the Mel Gibson version, or even that overly-colorful Romeo + Juliet; this movie is where it's at.
½ April 20, 2015
Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet is the first of the major motion picture versions that I watched in an attempt to study various takes on the famous character. It is unique in that it is a completely unabridged version of the Shakespearean text. Which of course means that it is a FOUR AND A HALF HOUR LONG FILM!

So as I watched it and took in the glory of the Shakespearean word I had many thoughts and ideas that led me to write this blog. And though I could ramble for days they say that Brevity is the soul of wit therefore I will be brief.

Things I Liked:

Derek Jacobi. Mr. Jacobi is easily the best actor in the film. And why wouldn't a Shakespearean powerhouse excel in a Shakespearean film. Jacobi steals scenes when he is on screen and his ability to play with the text is captivating as he makes every word have meaning and purpose and even in moments when I was grabbing something from another room or glancing away from the screen briefly I could still understand everything he was saying. He is a true inspiration for someone who wishes to master the bard as I do.

The Bit Characters. Some of the best parts of the film were choices to include very talent actors in very small parts. Billy Crystal as the Gravedigger, Charlton Heston as the Player King, and Robin Williams as Osric the Page. Each of them shines in their brief time and Crystal especially excels as a fantastic Gravedigger showing he is a versatile and nimble comedian in heightened language as well as pedestrian.

The Plot. As much as one would thing the text being unabridged would drag the movie down and make it hard to get through, it in fact does the opposite. Having the entire text actually makes the story more accessible, it causes you to understand much more easily what is happening throughout the play and gives you more detail into characters and conflicts than may have been previously alluded to. I actually like the 4 and 1/2 hour cut of the play for those reasons and I a disappointing that modern audiences would probably never let this fly again on this grand of a scale.

Things I Didn't Like

Kenneth Branagh. Here is the thing that makes this movie hard to get through. Hamlet. More specifically Kenneth Branagh's portrayal of Hamlet. The way he plays Hamlet is filled with extreme emotions that detract from the power of the words he says. He shouts far to much and give his soliloquies a tone that screams "THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER". It's Hokey, It's overdone, It's unnecessary, and honestly it's dissapointing considering how good Branagh and Shakespeare can be together.

The Design. I honestly think the major part of this film I find offputting about this version of Hamlet is how grand Branagh tried to make everything. He knew it may be one of his only shots at doing it and so everything is over the top and grandiose and honestly, it loses moments as a result. It's power as a script is in the intimacy of Hamlet's thoughts and those are gone because everything is huge and momentous and this all goes back to the same source. Kenneth Branagh.

Overall. Hamlet has it's moments and many of the supporting players are fun to watch but the desire to be the greatest adaptation from Kenneth Branagh stifles the look, feel, and lead performance. It's focus is in the wrong place and as a result it is only a mediocre adaptation. Which is a shame because I really hoped for much more powerful, inspirational, and resonant take on the classic tragic character.
April 17, 2015
Really really long but kept me into it thanks to Kenneth Branagh's captivating performance. Julie Christie, Kate Winslet, and Michael Mahoney are also great. The score, writing, production design, art direction, and costumes are all wonderful too
March 3, 2015
I mean really, the only critique I could have about the movie would be the differing acting choices I would have made. But if that's really the worst thing you can say about a movie, it doesn't even count as a complaint.
This movie would make the bard proud.
½ February 16, 2015
Let me begin by saying that I love Hamlet. I have since the fifth grade when I read a Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip in which Calvin's questionable-looking dinner came to life and performed the first half of the troubled Danish prince's soliloquy from Act I Scene ii. In recent years my appreciation for Shakespeare has blossomed and led me to seek different interpretations of his work, and few of his plays have been adapted so often and with such diverse results as Hamlet. I recently revisited Kenneth Branagh's 1996 screen version, and my thoughts on it are as follows:

Boy, did I remember this hulking thing more fondly than I received it this time around. The performances are as fine as one would expect from an all-star ensemble cast such as this, many of whom had worked with director and star Branagh on other Shakespeare projects. Branagh, however, despite his extensive experience in film, seems to think he is still on a stage judging by his bombastic gestures and blustering line delivery. To watch him with no audio were to see a performance more suited to the opera than to the silver screen, which is rather disappointing when compared with his compelling 1989 big-screen debut as Henry V.

The movie is extremely well-lit, and while it does often work to the film's advantage by leaving nothing hidden to the eye and taking full advantage of a rich colour palette. However, the ćsthetic's strength turns out to be its greatest weakness. A dearth of shadow robs many scenes of a sense of realism and paranoia. If every single shot is equally pretty, the visual aspect of cinematic storytelling is lost, along with the justification for adapting the full text of the play to the screen: with little variation in the visual texture and sound quality (each voice is perfectly crystal-clear and pristinely equalized) one loses interest in the actual experience of seeing the film and has no reason to sit for four hours listening to a literary masterpiece that could have been much more enjoyable without any picture at all (I highly recommend the Arkangel audio dramatizations of the Bard's complete works.)

The sets and movements are just as grand and gaudy as Branagh's performance, the entrances and exits a mixed bag ranging from tense and gripping to awkward and cartoonish. The scenes are presented exactly in the order in which they are set down in the play, so the staging is quite by-the-book and for the most part predictable. The film's visuals all blur together after the two-hour mark, and one is left wondering why one is still sitting while other more worthwhile activities are readily available options. The film ultimately holds no visual interest on a cinematic level despite the odd shot of a topless Kate Winslet (way to name draw, Ken) and an absurd bit of swashbuckling at the end. It seems that Branagh learned the hard way that to adapt a written work for the big screen one must add some level of visual interest for the non-Shakespeare scholar to justify the runtime of a full-text production. Without a reason to watch a film, one might as well listen to a full-text audio dramatization. Branagh's Shakespeare films are intended to bring the Bard into the mainstream Hollywood consciousness, but this overlong, overlit, overstuffed, overwrought behemoth hasn't enough cinematic merit to justify its existence.
January 29, 2015
Branagh's direction and performance make this a fantastic version of Bard's tale. Full review later.
November 19, 2014
A 4 hour long movie about Shakespeare's play Hamlet! What's not to like? Everything if you hate dialog ridden movies, but nothing if a fan you are. It is a masterpiece. Strong performances all over! Kenneth Branagh is simply mesmerizing! His Hamlet is amazing. Every word that comes out of his mouth is emotional and powerful! It is a pleasure seeing an actor do such an excellent job at portraying a character. A lot of people are still not happy this movie is 4 hours long, but every minute is important in this movie. It is as reading the book. As every single page was transeffered onto the big screen with every little detail, and every bit of emotion. It is a movie worth seeing, not only for it's quality, but for it's cultural meaning.
½ September 24, 2014
This is not, as advertised, William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" but Kenneth Branagh's, and it shows in every painful way you can imagine. That means pomp and pretension as no other widely accepted actor or filmmaker could ever get away with--Derek Jacobi's performance as a space opera star trying to break into Shakespeare on that episode of "Frasier" leaps to mind. (Ironically, Jacobi is in this "Hamlet.") It means Branagh strutting before a camera he controls, making sure he has ample time to say his thousands of lines while other actors are obviously rushing through theirs. It means an unfortunate over-arching stylistic choice, moving the setting from medieval times to an opulent Victorian palace for no apparent reason other than peacock-like pageantry. But most of all, it means sheer excruciating boredom, and this, one of the greatest dramas ever written, deserves more than to end up someone's vanity project. Some vanity projects, like "Under the Cherry Moon," are at least tolerable. But then, "Under the Cherry Moon" isn't four hours long. "Hamlet" doesn't feel like four hours, either--more like twelve.
½ September 9, 2014
This is an epic film that clocks in at just over 4hrs, but is never boring. The film was shot on 70mm and has a grandness to it, both in terms of the visuals, but also the cast and acting. I originally saw it in theatres, and have been wanting to rewatch it for ages, and I'm glad I waited as it looks stunning on Blu-ray. The whole cast is excellent. This is a must watch!
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