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126 of 137 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monster Mash
Maybe I have deplorable tastes, but I liked Branagh's version of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." In fact, I watched it twice in a row just to make sure. Yep, despite the generally negative critical reviews of this film, I like this version of Shelley's immortal classic a lot.
What sold me on "Frankenstein" was the relative faithfulness to the spirit of the book. (I...
Published on June 29, 2002 by Joanna Daneman

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars De Niro is wonderful as the monster
De Niro is wonderful as the monster, and this part of the novel is adapted extremely well. The rest of the film is awful. I don't know why Kenneth Branagh is so much admired. Any adaptation of great literature he has been involved with has been extremely shallow. His Henry V completely misreads both the play and the character. Here too, both Elizabeth and Frankenstein are...
Published 2 months ago by LB


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126 of 137 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monster Mash, June 29, 2002
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
Maybe I have deplorable tastes, but I liked Branagh's version of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." In fact, I watched it twice in a row just to make sure. Yep, despite the generally negative critical reviews of this film, I like this version of Shelley's immortal classic a lot.
What sold me on "Frankenstein" was the relative faithfulness to the spirit of the book. (I say relative, because bringing a novel to the screen involves some necessary alteration. The two media are different.)
Shelley's hastily-written tale pits Man and Science against God and Nature. Surprise, surprise, Man loses. Branagh is believable as the obsessed and arrogant Frankenstein who stops at nothing, risks everything to beat Death. Robert DiNiro is absolutely the most true Frankenstein's monster ever depicted on screen.
The scene where Frankenstein brings the monster to life is thrilling. The set looks right, the scheme of reanimation is brilliant. It's my favorite scene in the film.
There is a lot that is excessive and frankly over the top in the film, but to me that added to the Nineteenth Century feel and pacing. Romantic literature can be huge--because Romanticism exaggerates and dramatizes the heroic and tragic. This film captures that sensibility.
If you look at any of the other attempts to film Shelley's novel, you might agree with me that they don't come close to doing justice to the novel (for example, the old black and white film, which is not one of my favorites, and the more recent flop "The Bride".) This version comes very close, perhaps as close as a film can come to Shelley's masterpiece.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Version Of The Immortal Tale, June 17, 2006
By 
Stephen B. O'Blenis (Nova Scotia, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
Both one of the most horror-oriented and one of the most thought-provoking versions of the often-filmed tale, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" brings together a great cast - spearheaded by Robert DeNiro as the Monster and Kenneth Brannagh as Victor Von Frankenstein - for a big, epic production. It features stunning visual imagery and grand atmosphere, and some truly haunting quotes from the Monster. The Monster is perhaps the best developed here of all his screen appearances, a brilliant and sensitive soul being consumed by the rage and darkness inside his artificial being. Rarely has the picture of a monster's brutality being shaped by the world it's found itself thrust into been handled so brilliantly, and the overall attributes of the creature this brutality grows in - superhuman strength, a slowly emerging genius intellect, powerful emotions the creature has never had the chance to learn to control (having been 'born' fully grown), unnatural resistance to injury and heightened endurance, etc. - makes for a frightening force. Victor Von Frankenstein's portrayal is not one of a man who conciously chose to ignore the moral considerations and responsibilities of what he's doing, but a man upon whom such concerns simply never dawned for a second, until he's face to face with the consequences of his actions and it's too late for second thoughts. This has been said of the Frankenstein tale time and time again, but it continues to hold up: this story gets more eerily relevant to the modern world with each passing year.

It's among the career highlights for everyone involved, and with not only heavyweights DeNiro and Brannagh onboard but also such excellent talent as Helena Bonham Carter, John Cleese (in a rare non-comedic role), Francis Ford Coppola and Frank Darabont (director of "The Green Mile" and "Buried Alive", among others), that's saying a lot. Excellnt movie; one of 1994's best
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50 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent adaptation true to the vision of the novel, October 19, 2003
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a masterful motion picture. While it does take a few liberties with Shelley's classic novel, it does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the original story, specifically the humanity of the creature. While a little over-the-top at times and surprisingly gory, this film forcefully echoes Shelley's philosophical, moral, and ethical questions, and by so doing redefines the creature in its original image. What I have always found to be the most crucial scenes in the story are here displayed in all of their troubling glory, and perhaps it is the heightened intellectual nature of this film that explains why a surprisingly large number of people find disappointment where I find stimulating triumph. There are enough horror-laden scenes to capture the attention of the general horror lover, but the real substance of this story, for those who prefer their monster to serve as a complicated, amoral representation of man himself, is ambrosia for those who are more fascinated by the questions Frankenstein raises than by the horrors he unleashes.
The inspiration for young Victor Frankenstein's obsession with conquering death is delineated pretty clearly, given its most intense emotional charge by the death of his doting mother while giving birth to his little brother. His time at university is a little rushed, however, strangely incorporating the influence of a mentor whose work Victor vows to complete; where the older doctor halted his studies out of fear, Victor will push over the brink without hesitation. Victor's lab is a bit overdone, featuring all manner of miscellaneous gizmos, vials, and wossnames that look impressive with blue bolts of electricity (not generated by lightning, by the way) pulsing through them. The monster, as we first meet him, is less than impressive, and a prolonged scene of Victor water-wrestling a guy wearing a patently fake body suit inserts a little unfortunate levity into what should be a most serious scene. Victor's reaction to his creation is probably the weakest spot in an otherwise powerful film, as his sudden repudiation of everything he has ever worked for rings patently false.
It is with the entrance of the monster, however, that this film truly begins to shine. Mary Shelley's monster is not evil, nor is he a monster in the stereotypical sense by which he has come to be viewed by modern audiences. He is most definitely a victim and a creature deserving of much sympathy. Abandoned by his creator, his first interaction with mankind finds him fleeing a mob intent on hurting him for no reason apart from his ugliness. He takes shelter in a pigsty adjoined to a simple house in the country, and through a crack in the wall he not only learns to read and write, he gets to experience vicariously the joys and travails of family life. He becomes a guardian angel of sorts, secretly helping the family survive and prosper. At Christmas, in a truly touching scene, he finds a gift the family has left outside for their secret helper. One day, he gets a chance to actually interact with the blind old man of the house, sitting and conversing with another human for the first time in his wretched life, but all too quickly the family he had come to think of as his own, chases him away with blows and curses. If your heart does not break at the sight of the creature sobbing in the forest after this ultimate betrayal by mankind, you are the true monster. This whole scene is absolutely critical in terms of explaining who the monster is and why he does what he goes on to do, yet most film adaptations skip this scene entirely. Only now does the creature vow to seek revenge on the creator who abandoned him; only now has this ultimate victim become a monster in the form of amoral man.
The rest of the film is handled quite well, and Helena Bonham Carter is simply wonderful in her role as Victor's significant other. The ending goes beyond the scope of the original novel, and it does so in a strikingly grisly way, but the overall effect of this film is true to Shelley's original vision. Robert De Niro gives a particularly compelling performance as Frankenstein's monster, the look and feel of the late eighteenth-century setting is spot on, and the musical soundtrack complements the plot extraordinarily well. While I would prefer to see a movie strictly faithful to Shelley's novel, this exemplary albeit somewhat effusive adaptation hits the core messages of the story dead on and stands, in my opinion, as a truly impressive cinematic accomplishment.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars De Niro is wonderful as the monster, November 2, 2014
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De Niro is wonderful as the monster, and this part of the novel is adapted extremely well. The rest of the film is awful. I don't know why Kenneth Branagh is so much admired. Any adaptation of great literature he has been involved with has been extremely shallow. His Henry V completely misreads both the play and the character. Here too, both Elizabeth and Frankenstein are characters so changed that the film completely misses the true themes of the novels. In the novel, Frankenstein is cold, distant, dispassionate, probably asexual. This was the whole point of Shelley's critique of the new man of science of the enlightenment. He was incapable of love, but this infinitely silly film changes the plot and character to make him a loving husband to be for Elizabeth and adds a really tacky sexy plot layer with Elizabeth. She too is ridiculously characterized in the film. She huffs and puffs and runs around asserting her needs. The whole point of the novel was to depict the tragic passivity of women of the period. She didn't go to Ingolstadt, she wasn't assertive, she was abandoned by Frankenstein, but here she's a pouty nagging hyperactive woman. This is a very shallow silly misreading of the novel. It's also cinematically bland.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Branagh must have failed Senior English, April 21, 2013
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
I am concerned that so many people seem to believe that this film has anything at all to do with Mary Shelley's novel. They have obviously never read it. The damage done to the story's theme when Branagh changed Victor's motivation is absolutely unforgivable. The original novel explores the moral implications of science for the sake of science and wanton industrialization at any cost. Personally, I think the original theme is far more relevant than the nonsense that emerges from this film. Plus, much emphasis is placed on the "materials" Victor uses to construct his creation in this film. The idea that because the Creature is made of pieces of various criminals, he himself has a criminal nature. That was not Mary Shelly's message at all. In chapter 10, the creature says, "I was benevolent and good, misery made me a fiend." This demonstrates the Romantic theme of innocence and experience and is central to the overall theme of the book. Branagh robs his audiences of this rich and relevant thematic experience.

It gets worse too. For some reason, Victor brings Elizabeth back to life as a second creature. Elizabeth aside, Victor does NOT create a second creature in the novel. Then for some unknown reason, the Elizabeth-Creature lights herself on fire and goes racing through the halls. I am still confused as to the purpose of the random cholera epidemic. It's completely absurd.

I am a high school English teacher. My students think that they can watch this movie and it will help them understand the book. They fail the test every time. And not just students who don't read the book. This movie is so poorly done and so convoluted, that students don't seem to be able to untangle the mess in their heads.

Kenneth Branagh and anybody who gave this movie more than 1 star should be ashamed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT QUITE SHELLEY'S VISION, February 3, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
This is a difficult one to assess. Obviously Kenneth Branagh's production of MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN is a sumptuous piece to watch but, unlike Shelley's literary Victor Frankenstein, Branagh makes poor use of the "raw materials" that he has at his disposal for this one. What a wasted cast including Aidan Quinn (who has barely a cameo), Tom Hulce (I think that I might have rather had Hulce as Dr. Frankenstein), Helena Bonham Carter, Ian Holm (another wasted cameo), John Cleese (what was it with putting a mouthful of oversized false teeth in Cleese's head?) and Robert De Niro. But then Branagh always suffers from an overwhelming desire to hog the spotlight.
Branagh's portrayal of Victor Frankenstein goes way too far. Yes, he's supposed to be mad but I found him actually exaggerating the role much as Gene Wilder did intentionally in the wonderful parody YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Branagh seems unable to divorce himself from the stage where overacting is not only expected but also necessary.
De Niro comes close but is still far too repulsive in the role. Shelley's monster is far more endearing and approachable. But then De Niro does an apparently masterful job of portraying Branagh's view of things.
What he loses by misusing his cast he makes up for in the area of cinematography and special effects. The shock value of this film alone makes it worth watching. But do read Shelley's masterpiece first. You can then recognize what has been salvaged and what was unfortunately left behind. Branagh actually comes close with a few scenes but wanders aimlessly with most of them.
An admittedly generous three stars for the cinematography, scenery and for Tom Hulce's tidy performance.
Douglas McAllister
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an authentic adaptation of the book, but still fun., May 19, 2004
By 
Melissa N. (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" is an incredibly melodramatic adaptation of the book that takes huge liberties with the plot, but I still find it thoroughly entertaining. The movie is perfectly cast, and I think that the embellishments that Kenneth Branagh takes with the story only make the film more enjoyable. Even though I doubt that Dr. Frankenstein ran around without a shirt on as much as Branagh does in the film, most women will probably find it quite enjoyable. Robert DeNiro is amaing in his role of "the creature," and Helena Bonham Carter gives a great performance as Elizabeth. If you're the type of person who detests it when filmmakers stray too far from the text of the book they're adapting, then this film probably isn't for you. If you're a bit more open-minded and are just looking for an entertaining movie to watch, this is a perfect film to add to your collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great interpretation of Shelley's novel; true to the story, December 9, 2013
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This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
I ordered this as a supplemental resource in my 12th grade English class. Because this film follows Shelley's Frankenstein so closely (much closer than other films), I was able to use this in class to help support my students' understanding of the story. My students really enjoyed viewing the film as we read.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unappreciated Classic!, October 1, 2006
By 
A. Vegan (Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
I really enjoyed this movie. I thought the story was excellent. I had expected Frankenstein to be your classic, everyday, lame horror film which you only watch to get some cheap thrills, and see some horrible overacting. I didn't find it so at all.

This movie was beautifully done - a powerful, dynamic story of how man attempts to achieve greatness, but ends up ruining their lives and the lives of others as a result. I have not read Mary Shelley's book, but if it has half the emotional effect of this movie, I'll consider it time well spent!

Kenneth Branagh brought this movie together wonderfully, with both his directing and powerful, memorable acting as the tormented Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

This film is quite simply spectacular! It goes in the same category as From Hell, they are both too sophisticated and beautiful to be JUST horror films. The cleverness of this film and its sheer radiance must throw some people off. Robert De Niro is the creature! De Niro gives the foul beast a soul of his own.

Well worth having a look at, and the photography alone makes it worth owning on DVD.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Of You Are Wrong, October 21, 2000
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This review is from: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (DVD)
3 days ago, I saw this DVD in my friends house and he told me that he hasn't seen it it yet. That day was the last day of watching "Hamlet" in our school. We are studying Hamlet and our teachers showed it to us. 2 Years ago We also watched Othello, and I was shocked by Kenneth Branag. Hamlet made me the Fan of him. With the excitement of watching another wonderful Kenneth Branagh film, I brought it home. Next day I was alone. I closed the curtains and turned up the volume, and started the film. I was shocked at the end. This film was more than I expected. After that I tooked my Frankenstein book, which I had never had started for 5 years, and started to read it. I discovered that it was far more different than the film. But WHO CARES?? We are not looking at the same version as the film. I look at the quality of work done and influence one me!(That I am still in the mood of film). Some reviews, even the top 500 reviewer, made some mistakes. 1) Kenneth Branagh is not English, He is Irish. 2) The influence of the film refering to the captain Quinn is that he is in the same situation as Frankenstein. Going on the way he believes or going on the way as he can be alive. 3) Those kind of stiches were the only kind at those times. You cannot think of an aesthetic stich on the Monster. 4) How can any horror film can be suitable for children. No one should care for it. Cast is terrific, the film is good, and the effects are well designed. I am sad because of people don't like this shocking film. The only way you can make a comment of the film is to watch it.
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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [Blu-ray]
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [Blu-ray] by Kenneth Branagh (Blu-ray - 2009)
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