Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

The title of this 1994 would-be spin-off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is something of a misnomer, and the film itself provides further proof of Kenneth Branagh’s faltering skill as a filmmaker whenever he tries to move beyond Shakespeare. Though Steph Lady and Frank Darabont’s script certainly comes closer to Mary Shelley’s novel than do either of James Whale’s Frankenstein moviesrestoring the framing story that takes place in the arctic circle and giving the monster more of a human intelligence and sensibilitymost of the feminist implications of the novel seem lost on Branagh and his writers, who’ve replaced them with homoerotic overtones and other distortions. Robert De Niro does a fine job of impersonating the monster, but the choppy storytelling deprives his performance of the resonance it deserves, and Branagh himself as Frankenstein emerges as muddled and ill defined. With Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm, Richard Briers, and John Cleese. R, 128 min. (JR)

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