Coming off of his critically successful interpretation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (1993), director and star Kenneth Branagh disappointed audiences with this production of Mary Shelley's gothic horror tale. Although its script stays true to the basic structure of Shelley's novel and there are some truly graphic thrills (including a beating heart recently ripped from a live person), Branagh's rendition leans toward melodramatic performances and overly impressionistic design, diverting attention from the story. Instead of building suspense and unveiling the creation of the monster, the intensity is lost through overly aggressive camera shots and absurdly frenetic pacing. Plot holes such as the creature suddenly knowing how to walk, read, and write after the point being made that he is nearly retarded, lead to confusion and unbelievability. Branagh is likable and complex as Dr. Frankenstein but the chemistry is tepid between he and his lover/sister, Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter). The appearance of the creature is suitably graphic and authentic to its wild premise, but there are so many characteristic Robert DeNiro mannerisms glaring through the creature's exterior that it defeats the cosmetic effort. For a more successful modern interpretation of the gothic horror genre, see Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).
by Lisa Kropiewnicki review