Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Straightforward, energetic, updated Bard. 28-year-old star-director-adapter Kenneth Branagh's spellbinding version of Shakespeare's Henry isn't superior to Olivier's 1944 version - it's different, and complementary to it.
  2. Reviewed by: Judy Stone
    [Branagh] shows an understanding of the medium worthy of a veteran, and an intuitive grasp of how to make Henry V not only comprehensible, but compelling for contemporary audiences. [13 Dec 1989]
  3. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Big and pretty, vigorous, thoughtful, this Hamlet expands the story with helpful flashbacks.
  4. 90
    Most astounding, though, is the power of the film's leading actor. While Branagh's direction is forthright and articulate, his acting is brash and flamboyant.
  5. 88
    What works best in the film is the over-all vision. Branagh is able to see himself as a king, and so we can see him as one.
  6. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    One of the things that make [Branagh's] Henry V so thrilling is his audacity in trying to turn it into an antiwar play - a view that would have astounded Shakespeare. Astonishingly, he pretty much brings it off, emerging with steadily growing power as the young king who isn't afraid to bloody his hands. [15 Dec 1989]
  7. Clever and confident use of limited resources in an unfamiliar medium. Kenneth Branagh has made the right choice nine out of 10 times, and the tenth is easily forgiven because of the youthful ardor of that bright face and that bright talent. [10 Nov 1989]
  8. Reviewed by: David Patrick Stearns
    Henry V emerges a first-class epic film, so entertaining that it needs no apologies for being based on a 400-year-old play. [10 Nov 1989]
  9. The cast - including Derek Jacobi as the modern-dress chorus, Paul Scofield, Judi Dench, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, and Robbie Coltrane in an effective cameo as Falstaff - is uniformly fine without any grandstanding.
  10. Reviewed by: Anthony Quinn
    Branagh's Henry V must, however, be counted a success - it might never be as famous as Olivier's, but it should carry considerable clout for years to come.
  11. Mr. Branagh has made a fine, rousing new English film adaptation of Shakespeare's ''Henry V,'' a movie that need not apologize to Laurence Olivier's 1944 classic.
  12. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    Henry V is a stirring, gritty and enjoyable pic which offers a plethora of fine performances from some of the U.K.'s brightest talents.
  13. Reviewed by: Desson Howe
    An alert, rousing interpretation of "Henry V," Branagh beats down the doors of high art and drags the sleeping bard into the light of modern day.
  14. As director, Mr. Branagh and his cameraman have chosen to shoot his film tight and drab, a style that allows the actors to speak the poetry without affect. Nothing's prettified. [09 Nov 1989]
  15. 75
    There is a great deal of value in Branagh's version, not least in his own lead performance as a soft, indefinite Henry who defines himself over the course of the play. [15 Dec 1989]
  16. Reviewed by: Ted Mahar
    Branagh's Henry is inevitably darker and more violent than Olivier's, but also even more youthful and energetic at times. He is generally far more direct, with fewer sly implications. [17 Dec 1989]
  17. Branagh's expertly cut and reshaped Henry V gives us the grimy face of war, yet he also gives us the guts - and the soul and poetry that animate them both. [8 Nov 1989]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 11 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 2, 2012
    Henry V has it's flaws, but it's acting and directing make it shine. It could have been a Best Picture movie, but it wasn't. I thought it wasHenry V has it's flaws, but it's acting and directing make it shine. It could have been a Best Picture movie, but it wasn't. I thought it was overall pretty good. Full Review »