In returning to Mary Shelley's novel, Kenneth Branagh presumably intended to give his version of the much-told tale authenticity and depth. But the finished film, regrettably, for all it's romantic bombast, lacks the poetry and pathos of James Whale's 1931 classic, let alone the wit of the later Bride of Frankenstein. De Niro, as the hapless creature, is dependably sympathetic, eyes expressive beneath Elephant Man-style make-up. The rest of the cast, however, are pretty dismal: chest-baring Branagh, too earnest and dashing, as the obsessive Victor; Helena Bonham Carter, an inappropriately modern miss, as the doc's beloved Elizabeth; Cleese, ever the Python, a morose medical lecturer with a murky past; Briers as a blind peasant devoted to the good life. Equally uninspired is Steph Lady and Frank Darabont's often gratingly modern script and Branagh's far from light direction. Continuity seems all over the shop. Not frightening, just silly.