This runs less than half the length of Branagh's would-be definitive full-text adaptation and updates events to contemporary New York. Following the unexpected demise of the CEO, MacLachlan's Claudius has taken over the reins at Denmark Corporation, and sealed the deal by marrying the old man's very willing widow (Venora). Hawke is her son, a slacker prince who hides his hurt behind designer shades, a Peruvian woolly hat and a digicam. The film buzzes with gadgets and gizmos. Shepard is the ghost in the machine - first spotted on security camera videos - whose baleful looks give focus to this thoroughly modern Hamlet's overwhelming sense of static. Writer/director Almereyda sets 'To be or not to be' in Blockbuster video, a none too subtle pointer that this in-action hero is mired in media saturation, as well as indecision and self-doubt. When he does make a move, he makes a movie, and shows it in the corporate screening room to stir Claudius's guilty conscience. This Hamlet fails to muster tragic grandeur, and it's not quite the dazzler Baz Luhrmann made of Romeo & Juliet, but Almereyda modernises and streamlines without trivialising, and amplifies poetic melodrama with regular ingenuity and energy.
Cast and crew