"Hamlet," one of Shakespeare's most famous plays, is rarely performed in its epic entirety (four hours!). Consequently, the news that KennethBranagh would be tackling the work -- with a cast that includes the likes of Richard Attenborough, Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Gerard Depardieu, John Gielgud, Charlton Heston, Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, Robin Williams and Kate Winslet -- has been the source of much anticipation.
Naturally, Branagh, sporting a facial hair arrangement that looks like a diamond-shaped warning for novices considering skiing down his mouth, plays the perturbed Elsinorian prince throughout (an ass-numbingly long four hours). If you've read your Cliffs Notes lately, you know that Hamlet is pissed because his father's ghost pays a visit to indignantly announce that Uncle Claudius (Derek Jacobi) poisoned him, usurped his crown and is boinking his wife, Gertrude (Julie Christie).
About the time Hamlet starts freakin', Branagh wheels out the big Hollywood guns like he's hosting a marathon (240 minutes) celebrity roast for the Big Bard himself. Billy Crystal and Robin Williams are Hollywood trifles. Jack Lemmon is abysmal. Their mediocrity is eclipsed, however, by that of Richard Attenborough. Toward the end of the film, he emerges as the English ambassador, looking like someone just shoved him out the door of his favorite pub after several pints of Guinness.
Not surprisingly, however, Attenborough's appearance will be recognizable in the drawn visages of most of the folks emerging from the theater after enduring this epic (14,400 seconds) drivel.
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