14 February 2003 | OliviaF
I didn't like it
I only liked two things about this film: 1) The performance by Kyle McLachlan as Claudius and 2) The play within the play.
But first, let me say from the outset that on the whole, this version of Hamlet was flat and uninspired. Ethan Hawke practically croaked his lines all the way through which rendered much of the poetic dialogue in the play as dull and meaningless. Secondly, the director tried so hard to be creative with the modern surroundings, and yet it did not gel in this movie. WHY in God's name would Hamlet and Laeters duel in a swordfight in a modern day setting? WHY would a country such as England execute two innocent citizens due to a message in a laptop? And why is it that in practically EVERY Hamlet movie I've seen, including this one, does Horatio just stand off to the side with a disinterested look on his face and not show shock and emotion when Hamlet is dying? Everyone just seems to stand around staring at the dying character.
Reciting "To be or not to be" in a blockbuster video shop completely misses the point. Sure, in this movie it was Hamlet's world of movies and violence, but it failed to really show what was going on in his mind. We rarely get to see his anger or his confusion or his sharp intellect which was the essence of Hamlet, instead we get this grunge brooding portrait ala Reality Bites type character.
Kudos should go to Kyle McLachlan for not falling into the trap of delivering his lines without meaning - he delivered every line flawlessly and made it sound so convincing in a modern setting. His version of Claudius as the charming yet smarmy businessman with devilish like intentions was probably the best version of Claudius I have seen for a long while.