David Tennant's 2009 Hamlet
Following his remarkable run as The Doctor on Doctor Who, David Tennant introduced Hamlet to a new generation of fans in this television film from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Teamed up with Shakespeare legend Patrick Stewart as Claudius, the highly charismatic Tennant displays the Dane's wit, humor and madness that's often overshadowed by his melancholy in other films. It doesn't have the budget of it's ambitious predecessors, but the use of a single-camera setup works well in this compelling TV movie. While the current-day reimagining of Hamlet doesn't have a score on Metacritic, it still has all fresh reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, including one from Christel Loar, who writes, "the principal performances are nothing short of phenomenal, and the entire company should be praised for a momentous accomplishment in bringing it from stage to screen."
Grigori Kozintsev 1964 Hamlet
Although Grigori Kozintsev's Hamlet is spoken entirely in Russian and does not have a score on Metacritic, it still has a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Made in Russia during the height of the Cold War, Kozintsev makes sure to include the complex Denmark politics of the play. The Denmark castle is a character itself, as plenty of scenes are shot through bars and gates, emphasizing how it's a prison to Hamlet. Even in black-and-white, the widescreen cinematography is stunning with long shots of beautiful scenery. Reviewers continue to adore it as one of the more influential Shakespeare films, including Los Angeles Free Press critic Richard Whitehall, stating, "it is the fluency with which the poetry has been translated to the visual, the careful orchestration of speech and movement, [that] makes this an outstanding movie."
Kenneth Branagh's 1996 Hamlet
A big reason why Hamlet hasn't been adapted for the screen that much is because a full, unedited performance could take over four hours. However, Kenneth Branagh took on the mammoth project of a Hamlet movie filmed in the play's entirety, clocking in at 246 minutes. Set in the 19th century, Branagh's Hamlet is filmed in the spirit of a David Lean epic, like Doctor Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia. One of the highlight performances in this all-star cast is Kate Winslet as Ophelia, who captures the tragic heroine's breakdown tremendously. Despite somehow not having a Metacritic score, critics certainly loved it, with James Berardinelli of ReelViews writing, "I have seen dozens of versions of this play (either on screen or on stage), and none have ever held me in such a grip of awe."