4.5 stars. First off, the look of this version is superb. The costumes are excellent and the set design is oftentimes awesome. There are also location shots that have stunning scenery with gorgeous landscapes. This is a tightened version of the famous play, clocking in at a mere 2hr.15min., but it still holds the heart of the play intact. This is "Hamlet" for the masses, lean and hungry, and without the bloated length of the entire play. As for the acting, there are some notable performances and there are some question marks. Mel Gibson portrays the title character. This was a great surprise back in 1990 to see an Action Film hero challenge himself as an actor. His performance may not be altogether perfect, but it is heartfelt, energetic, and loaded with enthusiasm. Alan Bates plays the King, and while he has no standout scenes, his performance is solid overall: subtle and villainous. Paul Scofield plays the ghost of Hamlet's father, and while he looks a little too lifelike to be considered an "apparition," his scenes are portrayed admirably. Glenn Close is Gertrude, the Queen of Denmark. She has two incredible scenes and holds her own throughout. One of her best and chilling scenes is when she realizes she has been poisoned and looks wide-eyed toward the King with disbelief and horror. What a moment! While many citics wrote that she was too young to be the mother of Hamlet, this minor note is easy to forget once the play is under way. The single greatest performance here belongs to Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia. This is quite possibly the perfect portrayal of the character ever brought to the screen. I won't point out scenes here because her entire performance is outstanding. One of my question marks in the film has to do with the character of Laertes played by Nathaniel Parker. He just doesn't make me believe at any point that he is out for vengeance for either his father's murder or the madness and eventual demise of his sister Ophelia. He instead comes across more like a grinning villain than a son on the edge of exploding with rage. This disappointment comes late in the film, and while it is a key element to the strength of the plot, it doesn't ruin the movie; the movie ends before the plot has a chance to unravel. Another questionable scene is at Ophelia's funeral where the Queen(Glenn Close) is the only one weeping? I was wondering after the scene if anyone really missed Ophelia. Both Hamlet(Mel Gibson) and Laertes(Nathaniel Parker) say as much, but their lack of visceral emotion left me unconvinced. The last criticism is that the final sword fight between Laertes and Hamlet "looks" choreographed: turn, steel-on-steel, duck, turn, repeat, etc. I just waited for the inevitable to happen after all their sword-play was overwith. All these criticsms aside, this is still a worthy rendition of the heralded tragedy. There are many fine moments to be seen and heard here, not the least of which is Mel Gibson pushing himself to become a great actor as well as an international movie-star. All in all, this film is recommended viewing for any who enjoy Shakespear's beloved play.