Film-wise, one of the biggest differences between the 1996 version and 2000 version is that Branagh's script is unabridged and clocks in at over four hours in length, while Almereyda's caps at only 112 minutes of screen time. Recognizing the film medium's reluctance to break the fourth wall, both directors choose variant ways to work around or with this dilemma when it comes to switching theater characters' soliloquies into film characters' interior monologues. Branagh frequently uses mirrors, while Almereyda mixes in voiceover to express characters' inner thoughts in speeches. Stylistically, the mise-en-scene of the 2000 version is melancholy, emulating the bleakness of Hamlet's mind, while the 1996 version embraces the rich opulence of royalty with bright colors and baroque style. Branagh favors many quick jump cuts to convey information, while Almereyda generally favors edits following the rhythm of the actors.
In terms of content, both movies modernized the setting. The 1996 version is set in nineteenth-century Victorian England amidst a backdrop of the sprawling Blenheim Palace. The 2000 version is set at the end of the twentieth century in the corporate hotel world of New York City. The 2000 picture in particular takes many liberties with modernizing props, using technology, and playing with scene locations, while the 1996 version is more faithful to the original Shakespearean play.