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Kenneth Branagh
Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter
Writing Credits:
Steph Lady, Frank Darabont

When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 4/12/22

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains
• “Mary Shelley and the Creation of a Monster” Featurette
• “Dissecting Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” Featurette
• 1910 Frankenstein Film
• “Stitching Frankenstein” Featurette
• “We’ll Go No More a Roving” Featurette
• “Making It All Up” Featurette
• Trailers
• Image Gallery


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein [4K UHD] (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 31, 2022)

When Francis Ford Coppola made Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992, he brought credibility to the oft-cheesy horror genre. A hit at the box office, this flick seemed primed to launch a series of “art house” monster movies.

Two years later, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein made it to screens. With respected director Kenneth Branagh behind the camera and talented actors like Robert De Niro, Helena Bonham Carter and Branagh himself in front of it, this Frankenstein seemed primed to turn into another success.

Whereas Dracula pulled in $215 million worldwide, Frankenstein grossed barely half that total. While $115 million acted as a decent amount circa 1994 – and allowed the $45 million movie to break even, roughly – the studio must have felt disappointed by those receipts.

Negative reviews didn’t help, as critics largely panned the project. Though I know I saw this Frankenstein back then, I don’t recall what I thought, so that made this 2022 reissue a good time to give it another look.

Set in the late 18th century, Victor Frankenstein (Branagh) demonstrates brilliance as a scientist and medical student. During his time at university, Victor decides he wants to develop techniques to bring life to dead matter.

Though Professor Waldman (John Cleese) advises against this, Victor goes ahead with his experiments and creates a monstrous Creature (De Niro). When this goes awry, Victor tries to do away with his creation, but the Creature embarks on an unexpected life of its own.

As noted, 1992’s Dracula struck a chord with both audiences and critics – but not yours truly. I found the film to seem silly, campy and devoid of any real cinematic value.

With that background, it felt like Frankenstein enjoyed nowhere to go but up. Given my disdain for the Coppola flick, Branagh’s take on terror must fare better, right?

Yes, it does. However, that doesn’t make Branagh’s Frankenstein especially satisfying in its own right.

On the positive side of the ledger, at least Branagh tones down the high camp and over the top vibe of Coppola’s flick. Not that Frankenstein plays it straight, but it feels less contrived and silly than its earlier peer.

On the negative side, Branagh can’t really find a particularly coherent story he wants to tell. Frankenstein flits from Victor’s side to the Creature’s and back again without much clarity, and not much of the narrative becomes particularly compelling.

This leads to an oddly dull story, as the movie fails to find much to really involve the viewer. Branagh simply never seems sure what kind of film he hopes to make.

Does he want Frankenstein to offer an exciting action flick? A romantic drama? A philosophical treatise on death and morality? A scary horror story?

Yes to all of the above, but Branagh mushes them together in such a way that the hodgepodge doesn’t work. We get little teases in each area but Branagh fails to connect all the dots in a satisfactory manner.

Branagh seems to sense the inherent ennui at the heart of Frankenstein, so he often uses a spinning camera in an attempt to create a sense of dynamic action. It doesn’t work and just makes us dizzy instead.

Like Dracula, Frankenstein boasts a solid cast. In addition to Branagh, Cleese, Bonham Carter and De Niro, we find talented actors like Ian Holm, Tom Hulce and Aidan Quinn.

All offer perfectly decent work, but none really manage to elevate the material. I do give De Niro credit for his ability to put his own stamp on the Creature and not just replicate the classic Karloff portrayal.

I do think it feels odd that Branagh’s version almost entirely ignores the emotional incest of the relationship between Victor and his adopted sister Elizabeth (Bonham Carter). The pair grow up together as siblings but no one blinks an eye at their romance? Really?

Even without that oddity, Frankenstein fails to come together especially well. Though not a poor film, it becomes a strangely dull effort that never manages to bring out a strong sense of drama.

Modern Days Footnote: parts of the story relate to a contagious disease, a new vaccine that some violently resist, and quarantines. Why do these notions sound so familiar to me?

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This Dolby Vision image became a reasonable replication of the source.

Overall sharpness worked fine. Some minor instances of softness materialized, but the majority of the flick seemed fairly well-defined.

I saw no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and the movie lacked edge haloes. Print flaws didn’t become a concern, but Frankenstein came across as grainier than I would anticipate from a film released in 1994.

Colors tended toward a mix of blue/teal and an orange “candle-lit” feel, with some reds tossed in as well. The hues seemed fairly well-rendered, though all that grain meant the tones lost vivacity. Nonetheless, the disc’s HDR helped compensate and gave the colors fairly positive representation.

Blacks were deep whereas shadows seemed acceptable. Again, the grain could mean low-light shots felt murkier than I’d prefer.

Also again, the disc’s HDR helped balance out some of these issues, and this meant pretty good contrast and whites. Overall, the movie seemed like an appropriate reproduction of the source, even if it lacked the quality I’d expect for a movie from 1994.

With the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it proved adequate but unexceptional for its era. 1994 found movies firmly in the Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 period, so I expect more involvement than Frankenstein offered.

Most of the time the audio focused on the front channels, where we got reasonable stereo spread and some movement. Surround usage seemed oddly limited, though.

Oh, the back channels opened up at times, usually related to weather like thunderstorms. However, the track concentrated on the forward spectrum most of the time, and that made it strangely restrained.

Audio quality proved positive, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music showed nice range, as the score appeared bright and full.

Effects also offered appealing clarity, with material that sounded accurate and without distortion. Though acceptable for a track from 1994, the mix nonetheless felt underwhelming.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both sported identical DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio.

Though both came from the same transfer, the Dolby Vision 4K gave the visuals a boost. This meant the 4K looked tighter, brighter and smoother than the Blu-ray. The nature of the source meant the 4K didn’t dazzle, but it undoubtedly turned into the more satisfying of the two.

This disc includes a mix of extras, and we begin with an audio commentary from film historians Michael Brooke and Johnny Mains. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and crew, historical elements and production domains.

Overall, this becomes a pretty solid discussion. We get an appealing overview of the involved domains and learn a lot about the topics.

From 1910, we get a silent film version of Frankenstein. It lasts 12 minutes, 55 seconds and gives us a rudimentary take on the story.

Unsurprisingly, the print comes with major flaws and the film never becomes especially compelling, mainly because it offers such a bare-bones rendition of the plot. Still, it comes with some impressive-for-the-era effects and acts as an intriguing historical piece.

A slew of video features follow, and Mary Shelley and the Creation of the Monster spans 29 minutes, 37 seconds. In this reel, we hear from British Gothic specialists David Pirie, Stephen Volk and Jonathan Rigby.

They discuss gothic genre and historical domains as well as biographical notes about Mary Shelley, influences, the writing/release of the book, and subsequent adaptations. This becomes a neat little overview of the story’s history.

Dissecting Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein lasts 15 minutes, 32 seconds and again brings notes from Pirie, Volk and Rigby. They examine differences between the source novel and the movie in this examination of the 1994 film.

Here we get a look at comparisons between the novel and that movie as well as their thoughts about the 1990s flick. Some of this proves interesting, but much of it just feels like praise.

Three pieces appear under “Interviews”. Stitching Frankenstein goes for 14 minutes, 53 seconds and features costume designer James Acheson.

As expected, he discusses his work on the film as well as other memories. Archeson offers a chatty and enjoyable take on his experiences.

We’ll Go No More a Roving fills 12 minutes, 40 seconds and includes notes from composer Patrick Doyle. Unsurprisingly, Doyle talks about the film’s music, and he provides a mix of useful insights.

Finally, Making It All Up occupies 14 minutes, 22 seconds and involves makeup artist Daniel Parker. He looks at his creations for the film and turns this into another solid interview.

In addition to two trailers, we find an Image Gallery. It presents 16 images, none of which seem especially interesting.

While Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein hews closer to the source novel than its cinematic predecessors, it never finds a real beating heart. Despite all sorts of talent in front of and behind the camera, this becomes a strangely turgid exploration of the tale. The 4K UHD brings decent picture and audio along with an appealing collection of bonus materials. I respect this adaptation more than I enjoy it.

To rate this film, visit the original review of MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN