Neither Man nor Monster

Frankenstein claims to go by the book, but fails in the final chapter

In another movie, that might be fine, but given that the rest of this film plays as a cinematic hurricane, DeNiro's poor fellow falls flat on his face. And once the creature is around, Branagh's performance goes into the toilet. At just the time he should become most passionate, most mad, his Victor becomes a spineless, boring noodle.

The film generally skimps where it should overload, and rushes through the confrontations between creature and creator so that they lose their larger meaning.

The film only takes on enough of Shelley's poetry to make a difference at the end, when DeNiro's monster exclaims, "He was my father." (This reminded me of a much more successful return to an original text, Greystoke, and the scene in which Tarzan/ Greystoke looks on a murdered ape and exclaims, "C'etait mon pere.") When the deeply moved ship's captain offers to take him back to civilization, the monster has his best line: "I am done with man."

With much more of this, Branagh and company might have gotten free of Karloff's ghost. As it is, however, we get only an exasperating hint of what might have been.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh. With Kenneth Branagh, Robert DeNiro and Helena Bonham Carter.

Rated R.
128 minutes.

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