Hamlet (2009)

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Hamlet (2009) Movie Poster Image
A thrilling version of the Bard's classic tragedy.
  • NR
  • 2010
  • 182 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Evil deeds do not go unrewarded in this classic Shakespearean tragedy where almost everyone dies in the end. Unfortunately, some innocents also die as collateral damage, as a terrible crime sweeps up everyone in its path.

Positive role models & representations

Few of the characters stand out as good examples, as they are all motivated by selfish desires to pursue actions that range from venal to evil. Hamlet plots to kill his uncle in revenge, while his uncle commits murder out of a greedy desire for the throne. Other characters also lie and scheme in pursuit of power, vengeance, or due to anger.

Violence

Some intense arguments, and several scenes feature fights involving daggers, swords, or handguns. Several characters die.

Sex

A few bawdy discussions, though the Shakespearean phrasing makes them unlikely to be offensive. Indeed, the words will probably go over the heads of most young viewers.

Language

No words that will be considered risque to 21st century viewers.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some social drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this compelling interpretation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, set in modern times, is filled with scheming, betrayal, violence, and intrigue. Like most Shakespearean tragedies, this tale ends with more than a few deaths and little to leave viewers upbeat. On the positive side, it's thoughtfully done and could whet teens' appetite for more of the Bard.

User Reviews

Adult Written bytolkien geek mi November 12, 2013

A Mildly Disturbing Masterpiece

RSC keeps almost every line of dialogue in the Shakespearean tragedy. So when it comes to inappropriate content...it's exactly as listed in the Bard's...
Teen, 14 years old Written bythewarriorpoet December 29, 2014
I was pleasantly surprised by this 2009 remake of Shakespeare's classic. The acting was phenomenal, although the video quality was not as good. But that do...

What's the story?

Still mourning his father’s death, Hamlet (David Tennant), crown prince of Denmark, is dismayed when his uncle Claudius (Patrick Stewart) marries his mother and assumes the throne in one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies. The troubled prince is even more shocked when he’s visited by his late father’s ghost, who reveals that his death was no accident and demands that Hamlet seek revenge upon the killer: Claudius. The news pushes him over the edge into madness (or does it?) as Hamlet crafts a plan to expose his uncle’s betrayal, a plan that will have tragic and unexpected results.

Is it any good?

This lengthy film is worth watching all the way to terrible tragic finale. In what was originally a TV movie, this classic tale is transported to modern times by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Here, the complicated revenge plots and counterplots employ swords and daggers as well as pistols. These modern touches make the scenes look familiar, but the language remains the same. Some viewers may have struggled with Shakespeare’s beautiful poetry in school, but it leaps off the screen when delivered by these powerful performers. Tennant is especially fun to watch as he mugs for the camera and alarms other characters while seemingly in the throes of madness. His goofy faces are tinged with despair, revealing the depths of Hamlet’s misery.

That’s important because Hamlet is not only one of Shakespeare’s most famous stories, it’s also one of his longest, and this production clocks in at just over three hours. If viewers start getting distracted, feel free to take a break then come back for the exciting conclusion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about madness. Was Hamlet truly crazy, or was he faking it as part of a scheme to expose the king?

  • What do you think about this production? Does it hold up after being transported into modern times? Why do these classic stories continue to be reworked?

Movie details

For kids who love classics

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate