Things I Liked:
David Tennant. Now this is a Hamlet I can get behind! Tennant soars as Hamlet playing a quirky and interesting dynamic between Hamlet's "madness" and his more lucid moments, the speeches and soliloquies are thoughtful yet not overdone and he really stands out without trying to be a leading man in a film. David Tennant is spectacular in this version and I can only imagine what seeing him live must have been like.
Patrick Stewart. Sir Patrick Stewart is a legend and he reminds us of why here. His portrayal of both Claudius and Hamlet's Ghost are distinct and interesting and each have their own power. They take control of scenes and they harness a lot of moments that really soar sometimes even above Tennant's performance. The work Stewart does is a magnificent array of emotion and expressions, some subtle some broad and all interesting.
The Tone. While it has it's darker and it's more depressing moments, this Hamlet plays a lot with the humorous moments. Polonius is a great source of comic relief and Tennant's madness is not overdone and is a bit clownish which really helps to keep you interested as opposed to many grim and troublesome variations of Hamlet. I was so delighted that this one allowed humor in and quite a bit. It made the movie much more enjoyable.
Things I Didn't Like:
Ophelia. Mariah Gale as Ophelia fell a little short in this one. She wasn't very memorable or interesting and fell by the wayside and when she finally has her tragic fall into madness, it isn't something that grabs at your heartstrings because you find you do not care about her the way you should.
The setting. The way the film is set up feels like too many different places. It feels like the world is disjointed from itself and never appears cohesive. It has a very stylistic approach which makes sense with it being adapted from a play. But overall there are moments that seen a little out of place and it can be distracting at times.
Overall. Overall this version is my favorite so far. Tennant and Stewart carry a film that I feel captured the tone of the play very well and the script's cuts make it feel as though nothing is missing. There are issues with the star power overshadowing the other characters, most notably Ophelia and the setting seems odd and sometimes distracting. But the story is the true star and the actors bring it out in a wonderful way.
Patrick Stewart gives a solid performance of Claudius, though this cannot save it.
but Tennat's performance is somehow hysterical, clearly in the soliloquies
The Hamlet we meet in this production is very clearly defined, and moves delicately and beautifully in and out of the realms of mourning, sanity, madness and feigned madness, and does it with a dramatic and comedic grace rarely seen anywhere. I had not seen David Tennant in anything before, but I was completely blown away by his performance and have been a slave of his genious ever since. For me, his is a seminal Hamlet.
Gregory Doran‚(TM)s adaptation of Shakespeare‚(TM)s Hamlet was very well done. I enjoyed both Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation and Gregory Doran‚(TM)s adaptation equally. However, I felt like this adaptation did the better job of staying true to the play. While it does put a big modern spin on the play, it maintained the story‚(TM)s original dark and grim atmosphere.
This movie was much better casted than the other adaptation. Having a younger actor (David Tennant) play Hamlet seemed to better fit the character‚(TM)s childish mannerisms. He acted with a great range of emotions. While Kenneth Branagh acted the part psychotically most of the time, David Tennant‚(TM)s acting ranged from psychotic to tranquil, from joyful to depressed, from hateful to loving. This great range of emotions portrayed in a very off-putting way helped show the character‚(TM)s emotionally-contradictive personality, which is what Shakespeare likely intended.
The minor characters were also very well casted. Gertrude was portrayed as emotionally troubled as opposed to old and bitter, which I felt added more dynamic to the film. Claudius seemed more intimidating and antagonistic in his polite manners, in a ‚devil in disguise‚? sort of way. The Ghost of Hamlet was acted antagonistically as well. While reading the play, most often the reader‚(TM)s first impression of the ghost wouldn‚(TM)t be that of an antagonist. But the way the part was acted was very tour de force, and aggressive in a kind of ‚Raging Bull‚? demeanor. The portrayal of the Ghost reflects Hamlet‚(TM)s fluctuating emotions, but also foils his lack of anger and confidence. Also, it was very smart to portray King Hamlet as more directly antagonistic than King Claudius, because it helps the audience focus more on Hamlet‚(TM)s inner conflict and less on his family affairs. I also thought it was very clever to make Patrick Stewart play both Claudius and the Ghost of Hamlet, because they were physically the same person, but almost polar opposites in their demeanor.
This movie had less production value than Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s version. However, I liked the lesser production value of this version. It creates a whole different atmosphere. Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation had Victorian, well lit settings that seemed almost too lively and grand. The setting of this version is much ‚colder‚?. The rooms are smaller and the halls are narrower, giving the movie more tension. It also makes less use of lighting, for a dark and gloomy feel. It also gives the movie more ambiguity and suspense, while only focusing on what‚(TM)s important (example: the ‚ghost‚? scenes at night sometimes kept the actors in the dark while lighting the ghost when it makes its appearance, then uses lighting to capture the actor‚(TM)s reactions). All of this helps to capture the play‚(TM)s true heart of darkness, which I really appreciated.
There was a difference in this version‚(TM)s sequence of the play‚(TM)s scenes. Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation was very ‚paint-by-numbers‚?, in that it reflected the original text in its entirety. But this adaptation‚(TM)s removal and rearrangement of scenes made it seem more ‚movie-like‚?, so that the plot is more easily comprehensible and entertaining.
What I appreciated the most of this movie is its well thought out use of different types of shots, which all had different purposes. The type of shot that I considered most cleverly executed was the found-footage shot. In this movie, it is in the form of security camera footage. I felt that the use of this type of shot helped to increase feelings of paranoia. My favorite example of this is during Hamlet‚(TM)s ‚to be or not to be‚? monologue, where Polonius and Claudius watch him via the security cameras. This scene also made a good use of long shots (shots that last longer than a minute without cuts) and close-ups, which help the audience appreciate the acting more as well as create more intensity. A lot of long shots were used during monologues. The long close-ups in the ‚to be or not to be‚? scene, matched with the found footage shots, created a really intense and paranoid tone that I really enjoyed and did not expect.
Another type of shot that the director implemented that I really enjoyed was jump-edited shots. This is when two sequential shots don‚(TM)t differ in camera angle, and the subject remains on camera but in a slightly different position. Jump-edited shots were cleverly used during Hamlet‚(TM)s soliloquies to show sudden shifts of emotions. In one shot he‚(TM)d be maniacal in his expressions, and it will cut immediately to a shot of him in a sad and melancholy trance. This makes it seem like these two emotionally-polar sides of him coexist, and the intention of this was likely to mess with the viewer psychologically, which I really enjoyed.
I also really enjoyed the varied use of static shots and moving shots. In Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s adaptation, most shots were moving, making the movie seem much livelier. However, this adaptation consisted of mostly static shots to create a better gloomy atmosphere. The moving shots are only used when something is going wrong. This helps guides the viewer‚(TM)s emotions.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film. The varied acting, the gloomier production atmosphere, the clever execution of different shots, and the more coherent plot sequence all helped to create a wonderful adaptation that is unique in that it stays true to the play not literally, but through artistic elements. This is a wonderful adaptation that deserves more recognition than Kenneth Branagh‚(TM)s, so that moviegoers can be exposed to the play‚(TM)s true raw heart of darkness, rather than given blockbuster eye-candy that only captures Hamlet‚(TM)s words and not its spirit.