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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein More at IMDbPro »

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:


Author: Mike Sh. ( from Lowell MA
16 April 2001

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I've never seen the entire movie. I lasted about on hour or so (maybe a little longer) before the limit of my tolerance was reached.

What was wrong with this movie? Kenneth Branagh, ham though he may be, was decent enough in this movie. The exact same goes for Robert DeNiro, who got to ham it up a lot while wearing lots of monster makeup. John Cleese was surprisingly good as a medical professor. Helena Bonham Carter is always easy on the eyes. The sets, the costumes, the cinematography, the story, all good.

What really wrecked this movie was its ham-fisted direction. Branagh the Director is infatuated with Branagh the Actor, and seems to work only to highlight to best effect the object of his admiration. This only serves to make Branagh the Actor look particularly hammy and over the top. I could feel my face flush with embarrassment as I watch this disgusting display of narcissism.

Kenny boy, if you're reading this, may I make a suggestion? Next time you want to make another adaptation of a Shakespeare play, or a Gothic novel, please consider handing over the directorial reins to someone else who can approach the overarching talent of Branagh the Actor with a little more, uh.... detachment.

Think about it, won't you? Thank you.

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15 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

I have never laughed so much at an attempt at a serious film....

Author: max_byng from United Kingdom
16 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was just the biggest pile of s**t i have ever seen and i'm serious. Kenneth Brannagh was frankly embarrassing - please God someone stop letting him direct, produce and act in his films because no one can tell him how awful they are. John Cleese's rabbit teeth were hilarious but by far the two most hilarious parts of the film were the look on Brannagh's face when the monster tells him to meet him up on the ice in a few days (he's thinking why not do it now????) and also the scene where Brannagh attempts to save the guy who taught him in the operating room (the camera work is absolutely classic!). All in all i would encourage you to watch this film but only as a comedy - if you do you will laugh for ages! Oh yes and also check out Brannagh's Hamlet - the guy slaughters every film he touches.

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15 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

It's A-LAFF....!

Author: ptb-8 from Australia
28 January 2006

Well as awful movies go, and hilariously so, this miscast over-produced silliness is a million carrot rank winner. Under the section titled "GOOFS" in the IMDb should be link back to this film. I just roared with laughter at De Niro as Frankenstein's monster. Never ever have I seen any actor reduce himself to such inappropriate astonishing and really really funny foolishness for a paycheck. I said it before (about Cape Fear and just about everything else he appeared in from We're No Angels onward) so I will say it again with this mess: how many bad films can this guy make? To see De Niro trussed and Freddie Kruger-ed with plasticine scars and all mumble-mouthed grunting 'Have you ever considered the consequences of your actions... (grerble spittle slurp)" is so funny I nearly fell from the seat. Huntz Hall from the Bowery Boys would have mugged less. Just because Coppola's Dracula made money the usual accountant minds decided we could have a new Frankenstein. I would have preferred a re release of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN...although it is not as hilarious as this film. The sheer stupidity of the farm snow scenes where 'thamonsta' sleeps in the hay and 'educates himself' (for weeks on end apparently) by reading the Doctor's stolen detailed scientific diary on anatomy, whilst peeking through the cottage wall...and .. checking out his own stitches and scars and sewn together all male hairy lumpy pimply nooks and crannies beneath his colour co-ordinated designer rags from the prop dept...and... later quietly picking a field of frozen turnips (!!).......we are talking about some Euro bumpkin family who do not realise for months there is a genius monster sleeping on their doorstep reading science books (!!) but like a fairy clodhopper invisibly does farm work for them (like elves that clean shoes)...oh it is all so ridiculous. This film is 'up there' with WHITE MISCHIEF and LOOKING FOR RICHARD and PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE for genuine audience participation as a late-show 'shout at the screen' comedy night. Hilarious! What about the slimy afterbirth waltz performed by De Niro and Branagh, channelling Fabio! Oh God! You have to see it! and.....Don't even get me started on WOLF with Jack Nicholson grinning (at the thought of $20million) as a ...werewolf! You'll moon at the screen yourself.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Be sure to hide aspirin inside your popcorn!

Author: mark.waltz from United States
2 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Everything in this film is overkill. The blood, running camera blocking, the operatic musical score, the screaming, fire, ice, and the ultimate overkill, death itself. I thought that the usage of a bit of excess in the earlier "Bram Stoker's Dracula" was simply perfect, but what do filmmakers do when they succeed? Try to improve, and while that's admirable, in most cases, they fail miserably. For every "Sound of Music", there's a star, and for every "Deer Hunter", there's a" Heaven's Gate". Even Mel Brooks, brilliantly spoofing the monster legend with "Young Frankenstein", became ridiculously silly decades later with "Dracula, Dead and Loving It". So it goes to follow that with this monster follow up that may leave you with a migraine. I stand by this, because I saw it and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" in the the after when they were first released in the theater.

From the swirling cameras to frenzied special effects, this reminded me of why the second "Indiana Jones" film got very mixed reviews. It fails to realize that sometimes, less is more, and don't try to improve on practical perfection unless you are sure that indeed (without ego), it is perfection. This really does have some good things going for it, but a mixture of moods and energies are its failings.

There's no denying that both Kenneth Branaugh and Robert DeNiro tried their very best, but the script doesn't flow easily, and too much attention is focused on trying to give DeNiro's monster constant sympathy. Helena Bonham Carter, as Branaugh's life long love, spends much time as the traditional fragile heroine, only coming to life, ironically, when her character is dead. Tom Hulce plays a buffoon medical student, while Ian Holm and Cherie Lunghi are touching as Frankenstein's parents. However, as the mother, Lunghi looks more like his sister, much time scattered past between his childhood and adulthood.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"Not things learned so much as things remembered."

Author: utgard14 from USA
30 October 2016

Director and star Kenneth Branagh's attempt at blending Gothic horror with a 1990s actioner and resulting in a mentally-impaired Grand Guignol love child. What a mess. Less a movie and more two hours of people yelling and beating their chests about things. There's barely a single reaction that a character has in this movie that is not over the top. No one displays emotions subtly and no performances are subdued. Everything is overwrought and frenzied and, frankly, unpleasant to watch.

You would think an actor with the talent of Kenneth Branagh would direct with some restraint but damned if he doesn't approach the film like he's setting fire to curtains in a theater and laughing while the people run for their lives. And his acting! I love this guy in so many roles but here he's running around like Tommy Wiseau starring in A Streetcar Named Desire. The only interesting parts of the movie are when Robert DeNiro's monster is around, particularly the few times he's interacting with Branagh. And it's not because DeNiro is objectively 'good' in this (he's not; he stinks to high heaven), it's just that it's so bizarrely fascinating to watch two fine actors using entirely different approaches and arriving at the same terrible result.

I really didn't like this. As a horror movie, it's nothing to get worked up about outside of a few feeble attempts at violence and gore. As an adaptation of Shelley's novel, it's more faithful than any version I've seen to date. Whether that's good or not, I'm not really sure. All I know is the finished result is disappointing, mainly due to Branagh's directing everyone, including himself, to act insane.

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13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

awful... just awful

Author: NorthEgg from Waco, Texas
26 October 2003

This was the first Frankenstein movie I've ever watched, and lucky me, I got to see the one directed by the most egomaniacal overacting ugly and untalented man that England has ever produced... that's right, Mr. Branagh. Ever noticed how he plays the lead in ALL of his movies? And since he couldn't play Othello, for obvious reasons, he played Iago!

That aside, the movie lacked in many other areas. Pieces of the plot, for instance. Must've run away when they saw the director... It's like he tried to squeeze an entire, well developed novel (and it's questionable as to whether the novel was well developed at all) into a 2 hour movie.

And the melodrama! It was almost as if I was watching a soap opera. Too much of the cliche "As God is my witness, I'll never let another human die again!" People talking to themselves, reading out loud as they're writing letters, lack of narration... these are all very amateur directoral choices. "Hmmm, can't think of a way to get the plot across, so I'll have my characters just say it out loud!" Very, very poor.

So, between Kenneth Branagh's ugly mug, plot holes, and horribly acted melodrama, this movie is a BIG loser. At least I didn't pay for it. It came on cable.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Pretty bad

Author: pete36 from Belgium
1 October 2016

As much as I love Kenneth Branagh as an actor, most of the movies he directed leave quite a lot to be desired. This one is no exception : a near-hysterical version of the classic Frankenstein tale.

Apparently the movie follows quite closely the original book by Mary Shelley (hence the title) but instead of a classic horror movie you get a version that most likely seems to be directed by Michael Bay. The swirling camera, the super fast editing, actors who do not talk but but shout the whole time as if they're on a stage, it all results in a head pain-inducing out-of-control carousel of flashy images and sounds.

Francis Coppola, who was the producer, wasn't at all pleased with the finished product and even demanded to edit out the first half hour. Branagh didn't comply (he had better listened to the master)and the movie was released under The Zoetrope badge, instead of "Frans Ford Coppola presents". Whenever that happens it means that Coppola simply disavowed the movie as a whole.

Branagh did go on to direct other movies with varying results including some (minor) successes like his monumental version of "Hamlet" and the swordandsorcery tale "Thor". But the rest of his directorial efforts (except his very first one "Henry V") is best to be forgotten. But he remains a brilliant actor !

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Armand from Romania
3 March 2014

a film who impress for the extraordinary work of all team. acting, costumes, atmosphere, the high ambition to create an exemplary adaptation. the result - a nice film. not the best, not great or far by errors. but decent. the basic sin - maybe the desire to make all perfect. and the not surprising result - the exaggeration. each actor search to do more than a character. a good thing but only as noble intention. Robert De Niro is his creature. in many scenes something missing and the landscapes becomes more important than the acting. but the spirit of novel is present. against the need of innovations or to transform in a Shakespeare play Mary Shelley text. out of doubt, a good film. and this fact is important. the vision of Keith Brannagh and few extraordinary scenes. in rest, the comfortable silence.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Not great but it's watchable

Author: Terrell Howell (KnightsofNi11) from United States
22 March 2011

It's no secret that Mr. Kenneth Branagh loves him some adaptation. He has directed numerous adaptations from Shakespearian plays and is quite good at it. But in 1994 he decided to take a different approach to adaptation and adapt a slightly more modern, yet still classic, story. This was Mary Shelley's chilling novel Frankenstein. He put together a strong cast, obviously including himself, and got himself a nice budget of 45 million dollars to make his film. The result isn't terrible, but it isn't that great either. It is a vastly different telling of the Frankenstein story compared to the brilliant 1931 film from James Whale. It tells of Victor Frankenstein, an intelligent young man who has a very promising future in the field of medicine. But that changes when his mother dies and he embarks on a maddening quest to bring the dead back to life. After practically going insane he does so, but instead of creating a man he creates a monster. And after neglecting his horrific creation, it escapes and swears revenge on its creator. This is a very odd story and it is one that strangely combines romance and horror into an unfortunately disjointed film.

If I could fix this film in just one way and one way only, I would have it slow the hell down! This movie starts with a slow brooding intro in the arctic when we meet Victor Frankenstein who is being chased by his monster. He meets some sailors whose ship is stuck in the ice and they take him in. Frankenstein recounts everything that led up to this point to the ship's captain and the film flashes back many years earlier where the Frankenstein's and their friends are all introduced. From here the movie just takes off, throwing so much storyline at you, not taking time to develop anything fully. Relationships are established and the film just moves on. Major plot points occur and the film gets right on through them and on to the next thing. It is a frustratingly rampant film that just I constantly felt needed to just tone it down a bit and develop this story at a normal and more accessible pace. I'm not saying the film moves too fast to comprehend, but it definitely moves too fast to connect.

But if you break the film down and just take the story as it comes, it isn't bad. The setup to the creation of the monster is uselessly long and moments get a bit irritating and you sometimes wish the film would move on, which is ironic considering this film zips through its plot at breakneck speeds. I was really getting tired of the film before the monster was finally introduced, and then the film picked up a bit. Like I said, it is a completely different telling of the Frankenstein story, so that was interesting. The development of the monster character obviously moves a little too fast, staying true to everything else about the film, but it does tell an interesting story. Moments of the film get a little boring but keep its flow moving. The last half hour of this film really made me start to rethink my opinions about the film I had had up until then. The ending is great and very dramatic. You can tell the film has been trying to build up to this moment and that sort of failed, but the ending itself is very entertaining. The film does cram all of its themes of life, death, love, and rebirth into the end and it gets a little sloppy, but the story itself wraps up quite nicely.

Artistically this is a pretty nice looking film. The monster is designed well and Robert De Niro's makeup is very grotesque, but it's somewhat amusing knowing that it's Robert De Niro of all people under all that. Branagh shows his knowledge of how to direct a film here, and there are a lot of cool tracking shots and hauntingly beautiful frames. But some of it does go into excess at times and after a while you can get tired of all the dizzying tracking shots spinning around characters as they deliver lines with plenty of melodrama. But it's important not to confuse melodrama with bad acting. The acting here is actually really good, albeit cheesy because of a melodramatic script. Branagh is great as Victor Frankenstein and has some really cool scenes. De Niro as the monster is... well, different. It's not bad but it's very strange to watch the monster learn to speak and write, beginning with not knowing anything to speaking fluently and eloquently in what seems like no time at all. Then of course there's the always strange and always magnificent Helena Bonham Carter who does a great job in this film as Frankenstein's love, Elizabeth. She manages to make melodrama easy to watch, rather than painful.

There are a number of things that saved this film from being truly awful. If not for the good acting and nice camera-work this film could have been unbearable. This film tells a story with some interesting themes and some creative aspects, but it just wasn't told as well as it could have been. The pacing issue is probably my biggest complaint, but it's just not a film that is made all that well. It tries to be good, and I say that because I know Branagh is a skilled director with a lot of respect towards filmmaking and how to do it. Frankenstein just missed the mark on a number of things, making it just another film that I will surely forget about soon.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's Alive … but not lively!

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
18 February 2008

During the early 90's, generally not the greatest period for horror cinema, there was a short but nevertheless noticeable revival of the genre's most classic & legendary stories. Apart from Kenneth Brannagh's modern update of the Frankenstein novella, there also was Francis Ford Coppola's interpretation of "Dracula" (undeniably the most famous one of the bunch) and the unsuccessful re-telling of the "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" story in "Mary Reilly". These modern versions benefited from superior production values and all-star casts; yet personally I can't say I was a big supporter of the initiative. They're all fine films, no arguments there, but they somehow feel like an excuse for younger horror fans to simply neglect the 'dated' black-and-white originals. The 1930's versions of these tales still form the standard, as far as I'm concerned, and they remain fundamental viewing if you desire to call yourself a fan of the stories. That being said, Brannagh's interpretation of Frankenstein is obviously a good and visually striking cinematic effort, but it honestly won't impress you that much if you're familiar with versions from past eras. Much more than the other aforementioned titles, it too often feels like Kenneth Brannagh intended to bring the ultimate version of "Frankenstein" and therefore it occasionally feels preposterous and overly obtrusive. Also, and in spite of some really engrossing moments (especially during the last half hour), the director puts the emphasis too much on the sentimental aspects and nearly not enough on the petrifying side of the story. Quite a lot of footage is dedicated to Victor Frankenstein's private life. His role as obsessed scientist is always second to his role as concerned and romantically tormented patriarch of the Frankenstein clan and therefore Brannagh can't hold a candle to the performances of previous Victor Frankensteins like, say, Colin Clive or Peter Cushing. Even the creature as well, albeit masterfully depicted by no less than Robert De Niro, can't seem to find the right balance between frights and pity; something that showed almost naturally in the older versions. A lot of material feels like unnecessary padding and slows down the pace whereas the essential parts of the film are not strong enough to rescue the wholesome. The settings and costumes are deeply impressive, as is the whole new make-up job on the Frankenstein monster (Robert De Niro's mutilated face is likely to shock and repulse the more squeamish viewers amongst us), but the film overall fails in the department of substance. Some highly acclaimed actors are offered too little character depth to work with, like Ian Holm as Frankenstein's father and John Cleese as his reluctant mentor, and others can't bear the heavy burden that comes with the character, like Helena Bonham Carter and Kenneth Brannagh himself. I would easily recommend "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein", but only for the terrific illustration of decors and make-up and, foremost, only after having seen the "Frankenstein" (1931) and "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935)

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