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Franco Zeffirelli's streamlined adaptation of Hamlet may not be the most thorough or accurate re-telling of Shakespeare's most-famous play, yet it remains a very entertaining and energetic film. Zeffirelli doesn't depart from the original story of Hamlet (Mel Gibson), the Prince of Denmark, who intends to seek revenge on his uncle Claudius (Alan Bates) for killing his father (Paul Scofield) and assuming Denmark's throne. The director has trimmed several scenes, making the film move as quickly as a contemporary action movie--though it's not a film for purists, it's the… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Performances all fall in a middle range between the competent and the lackluster."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Gibson gives the melancholy Dane an earnest but pedestrian reading."
‑ , Rolling Stone
"Starring Mel Gibson, Zeffirelli's Oscar-nominated version is colorful and mildly engaging, but lacking depth and poetry, and the two women are miscast."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Offers what amounts to a comic book intro to Shakespeare's classic, retaining few of the play's psychological complexities."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Zeffirelli does an excellent job at juggling with updating Hamlet, while staying close to the classic play."
‑ Alex Sandell, Juicy Cerebellum
"It's a surprisingly successful venture, decked out in Anglo-Saxon styles and with a brooding, robust castle setting which oozes horse muck."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"There's nothing embarrassing about Zeffirelli's brisk new version, nor anything particularly remarkable; it's an entirely credible, middle-of-the-road production."
‑ Hal Hinson, Washington Post
"Alas, poor Mel Gibson! I knew him when he was on top of the world."
‑ Scott Nash, Three Movie Buffs
"In retrospect, it's a small jump from Shakespeare to God. What if Gibson had been stopped then?"
‑ Jake Euker, F5 (Wichita, KS)
"Gibson and his ego fancy himself as an ideal Hamlet, which is tragic to the film in a different sense."
‑ Greg Muskewitz, eFilmCritic.com
"[Mel Gibson] is by far the best part of Mr. Zeffirelli's sometimes slick but always lucid and beautifully cinematic version of the play."
‑ Caryn James, New York Times
"The style of Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet, with Mel Gibson in the title role, is robust and physical and -- don't take this the wrong way -- upbeat."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Mel Gibson emotes as the doleful Dane."
‑ Randy White, Common Sense Media
"Not only is Mel Gibson much better than you might expect, but Zeffirelli's Hamlet is often entertaining and rarely hard to endure."
‑ , Film4
"Gibson makes a fine, frenzied Hamlet, but Zeffirelli's direction leaves something to be desired."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
More reviews for Hamlet on Rotten Tomatoes