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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One to Make You Think
If you have not studied and understand Shakespeare's usage of words, then this movie will be a terrible long bore filled with words you would have trouble pronouncing, let alone understanding. You may have understood some of the plot had the setting and the dialouge not been so different. 14th century Denmark and 21st century New York are two completly different worlds,...
Published on Jan. 2 2004

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Play murdered by Hawke's untalented, one sided performance
Okay. when this movie started, it was promising. The setting of New York year 2000, Denmark as Giant Corporation, Elsinore a hotel... but then, Ethan Hawke appeared, and it all went down hill. THIS MOVIE ISN'T SHAKESPEARE'S HAMLET. It's some watered down ...version.
For anyone who has read and understood the play, Hamlet is a complicated character. He is clever,...
Published on Nov. 8 2003 by Coldturkey


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One to Make You Think, Jan. 2 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
If you have not studied and understand Shakespeare's usage of words, then this movie will be a terrible long bore filled with words you would have trouble pronouncing, let alone understanding. You may have understood some of the plot had the setting and the dialouge not been so different. 14th century Denmark and 21st century New York are two completly different worlds, with different words. If you found it horrible confusing, study Shakespeare's language and then give this movie another look.
Now if you understand Shakespeare, but have not read the play, you could follow the plot, and identify with some of the characters. Hamlet was played a bit meloncholy, but it fit. If you truely like dramas, then you can agree with me that when he put the gun to his head and said "To be or not to be," it was moving, at least I thought it was. Ophelia's sudden maddness seemed, well, sudden, but again, my boyfriend never shot my father either. The poloroid pictures perfectly captured the drowning with flowers, and yet kept it contemporary. The final scene brought tears to my eyes. I felt so much empathy for Hamlet, and while I knew it was a tragedy, I was completly shocked when he died.
Overall, this was one of the better modern-day Shakespearean plays I have seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite excellent, Jan. 18 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
I'm not sure what movie many of these reviewers watched, but it obviously wasn't this one. The movie I saw was brilliant, with good acting, very fitting music, and good direction; an excellent _adaptation_ of Shakespeare's play.
Hawke was excellent as Hamlet. Julia Stiles was pretty unconvincing, as Ophelia, at first, but only got better as the movie progressed. Kyle Maclachlan is probably the most "Shakespearean" of the major actors, and he does not disappoint. Bill Murray is the weakest, but he fits in well.
All in all, the key to understanding this Hamlet is that it is a _movie._ It's not a play on tape, but a movie (or film, for pretentiphiles), and it takes advantage of all the capabilities of that versatile medium. It's also an adaption of the play, and a significant portion of important dialogue was cut, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, the plot is intact and the film has a hard-hitting emotional impact.
Don't expect a traditional and stale Hamlet, and you won't be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I've seen at least 10 performances of Hamlet, Nov. 1 2006
By 
Jenny Hanniver "medieval_student" (Philadelphia, PA, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
Since I'm in my seventh decade and am a Shakespeare fan(atic), I've had plenty of time to catch a great many HAMLETS--at least 10 different versions on stage or film or TV, plus a wild clunky performance in my undergraduate second-year Shakespeare class, where we students ran around the classroom emoting from our textbooks, where the professor (who didn't need a book) was having so much fun he played both Hamlet and Laertes in the duel scene, bounced back and forth fencing with himself, stabbed himself to death, then became Horatio and Fortinbras, and gave his own solemn eulogy. That was the hands-on way Dr. Robertson taught all the plays, and made them unforgettable!

Of the professional performances I've seen, Olivier's 1948 film stands very high (I think everyone in my ninth grade class saw it at least twice) and so does Derek Jacobi's on PBS. The most fun was Anna Russell's hilarious mock-Verdi opera, HAMLETTO, or PROSCIUTTINO, with its Rosencrantz and Guildenstern patter-song. Russell's pastiche was more to my taste than Mel Gibson's interpretation. That one was a banal disaster, as I should have expected--a waste of time and money. My lifelong favorite has been the 1960s New York City stage production starring Richard Burton, who gave a new dimension to Hamlet's motivation. Oh, how I wish that one had been filmed.

There've been several modern-dress stage interpretations which I'd liked, so I was intrigued by the reports that this one was set in near-future New York City, not in Denmark (the country) but in Denmark (the corporation). The unusual casting also fascinated me, so I paid to see it in a theater instead of renting it. What an experience it turned out to be! If Amazon had a 4.5 rating, that's how I'd rate this HAMLET. I'm not sure which stellar quality I admired the most--the wise and clever use of modern technology, the New York scenes, Almereyda's outstanding direction, the roving, intrusive camera, possibly Julia Stiles' bewildered innocence. She was perfect and so were the two actors--hitherto unknown to me--who portrayed Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as college-age slackers. The entire cast was superb.

Probably most of all I loved the freshness of Shakespeare's language--American-accented and in so different a milieu--demonstrating again the astonishingly timeless relevance that makes HAMLET a classic. I simply can't imagine why the detractors would not have loved this film. My advice to them: "Get a life." To all others: "Get the DVD!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What the heck just hit me?, Dec 16 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
When I first began watching this movie it was a let down, I had been expecting so much more. I almost shut it off but my husband convinced me to keep watching and....I LOVED IT.
I am not much of a Julia Stiles fan but when she is lamenting over her father's death and casting polorids of flowers to the ground, I amost cried with her. Her performance there is worth owning the movie in my opinion. I recommend you get through the somewhat dull beginnig and see the masterpiece of the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Play murdered by Hawke's untalented, one sided performance, Nov. 8 2003
By 
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
Okay. when this movie started, it was promising. The setting of New York year 2000, Denmark as Giant Corporation, Elsinore a hotel... but then, Ethan Hawke appeared, and it all went down hill. THIS MOVIE ISN'T SHAKESPEARE'S HAMLET. It's some watered down ...version.
For anyone who has read and understood the play, Hamlet is a complicated character. He is clever, educated, and in many parts pf the play utterly hilarious. Hamlet is in some sense troubled, but he is not mad. He pretends to be; teasing Polonius, tricking Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, trying the patience of his mother and uncle. This is what makes him so memorable. BUT Hawke's performance loses this. His hamlet is forever moping, sullen and melancholy. He drones lines like 'My wits diseased' with the same monotone seen throughout the film, when this line is supposed to be sarcastic, mock-crazy. Hawke makes Hamlet into the stereotypical suicidal boring teen. Whether this is due to poor direction or the fact that Hawke doesn't get Shakespeare, I dont know. But it ruins the play. It ruins all the propects of a terrific movie. I mean the cast could have been great. But somehow, the idea flopped. My advice: stick to Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh, or better still, see a stage version. It will bemuch more rewarding.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully creative and accessible 'Hamlet', April 5 2011
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
A terrific updating, using Shakespeare's language, but set in modern
corporate New York City. Beautifully shot, on a shockingly low budget
for it's look, with amazing use of New York locations.

Hawke is very good, and most of the rest of the cast, including Bill Murray (to my
surprise, doing Shakespeare), Kyle MacLachlan, and Diane Venora are first rate.

More important this is a re-telling that really uses the film medium,
and makes us re-think a classic in a new way, while being terrifically
entertaining along the way. It makes the simple humanity and complex
ideas under the Shakespearian poetry as clear as any production I've
ever seen, on stage or film.

Obviously controversial, and not for purists, but well worth seeing to
decide for yourself.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Bad, July 11 2004
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
There have been a number of brilliant adaptations of Shakespeare in the past few years which has updated and modernized the settings, but this isn't one of them.
The use of contemporary locations throughout this movie is sometimes clever or witty, but never really hits interesting and always distracts from the play. The main conceit -- Denmark as a corporation, etc -- just doesn't fit the language, and each time someone refers to CEO Claudius as "dread lord" it serves to remind us of just how poorly the metaphor works.
Hamlet spends much of his time with a video camera, and clearly the director thinks he has something very important to say on the media or some such, but I have no idea what.
Ethan Hawke's performance brings out the unenergetic side of the role, as half the film is him muttering iambic pentameter in a dull monotone. There's no straining against his inability to act, he just can't be bothered to. I suppose this is a valid interpretation of the role, but it's deathly boring.
Julia Stiles does not appear to understand most of the lines she is speaking.
I'd have to recommend the 1991 movie starring Mel Gibson over this one. At least Mel Gibson wasn't wearing a stupid hat.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Hamlet as a Rip-Off of Romeo and Juliet, June 16 2004
By 
Christopher M. Adderley (Marshall, MO United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
I've seen most versions of Hamlet available on VHS or DVD, and this is absolutely the worst. One reveiwer here has pointed out that the cast's inability to handle the language is most likely the fault of the director; I'd say that's true, but the inconsistency and superficiality of the vision is also the fault of Michael Amlereyda. The source of the problem seems to be that no one involved in the movie (with the exception of Diane Venora, who has played numerous parts in Shakespeare, even in Hamlet, before) has any convictions about the play, their characters, or Shakespeare. Contrast this movie with Baz Luhrmann's innovative Romeo and Juliet, and you'll see Almereyda's inspiration. It seems as if he just wanted to cash in on the Romeo and Juliet craze--he even echoes that film by having Fortinbras' closing speech read by a newscaster on a TV set, as the final speech in Luhrmann's movie is read by a newscaster on a TV set. I'm not opposed to modernizations of Shakespeare--I'm opposed to thoughtless rip-offs.
I'd like to list the movie's redeeming qualities, but can think of none. Diane Venora is always worth watching, but she's much better as Ophelia in Kevin Kline's production.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "You come most carefully upon your hour.", March 11 2004
By 
D. Knouse (vancouver, washington United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
This version is an interesting idea, at best. Instead of recieving letters, in this modern-day world they receive faxes. Some of the dialogue is over the telephone or on cam-corder. Great ideas, all. But it just doesn't flow as well as I had hoped it would. There are better versions of the play out there, my personal favorite being the Mel Gibson version, but the Keneth Branagh version is also superior. Ethan Hawke is the typically introverted Hamlet struggling with unnerving circumstances. He acquits himself with integrity, as do many others in this cast. But there was a strange casting choice in this particular version. Bill Murray plays the character of Polonius. For the most part, he is surprisingly good; but there are moments when it seems he just wants to laugh at the absurdity of the language. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Shakespear. (...)
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1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible!, Feb. 27 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Hamlet (Widescreen) (DVD)
No doubt that Shakespeare has rolled in his grave 'cause of this film. It sickens me to see the bastardization of another great piece of literature by Shakespeare (the other is the bastardization of Romeo And Juliet starring Claire Danes).
To see the real Hamlet that was Shakespeare's vision check out the version with Mel Gibson instead.
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Hamlet (Widescreen)
Hamlet (Widescreen) by Michael Almereyda (DVD - 2005)
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