Hamlet (2000)

HAMLET, the newest version from writer/director Michael Almereyda, 
takes place in present-day New York and reinvents "Big" Bill Shake-
speare's brood as members (or friends of members) of the "Denmark 
Corporation."  Cute.  Ethan Hawke, all grunge, plays the ever-mad-
dening title character, Julia Stiles pouts as Ophelia, and Bill 
Murray mildly mugs as Polonius.  (Far more comical than Mr. Murray, 
however, is an ear-flapped ski cap that occasionally covers Ham-
mie's head.  Oy, what a sight!)  Other prominent players include 
Kyle MacLachlan's Claudius, Diane Venora's Gertude, Liev Schrei-
ber's Laertes, and ol' Sam Shepard as "the King," the apparition-
appearing CEO who also obviously never participated in company's 
dental plan.  (Maybe that's why he was killed.)  For those new to 
the play (read: teens), this is a rather palatable take.  Familiar 
faces in familiar situations and most of them speaking slow enough 
to be actually understood!  (Being *heard*, however, is another ma-
tter entirely.  Blame a crappy sound recording that periodically 
drowns the dialogue in extraneous noise.  Ugh.)  This may also be 
the first filmed HAMLET to feature product plugs for Pepsi, Movie-
phone (calling Kramer!), and Blockbuster Video.  (Other amusing 
not-really-anachronisms:  hearing the Bard's banter on speakerphone 
and an Ertha Kitt-recorded PSA that greets three cab riders.)  Re-
grettably, there are a few dead spots to speak of-- odd, uncomfort-
able moments when the actors seem less like interacting characters 
than stage-crafting speech traders.  These screeching halts pass 
pretty quickly, though.  Nonetheless, ninety minutes was plenty for 
me.  I left and went to watch fireworks.  (Rated "PG-13"/111 min.)

Grade: W/O 

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros