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Added by johanlefourbe on 17 Mar 2016 09:55
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A Complete Review of Kenneth Branagh's work

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unfortunately, I haven't seen this one yet...
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People who added this item 613 Average listal rating (377 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
Cinderella (2015)


Cast : Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Helena Bonham Carter, Stellan Skarsgård Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell

What was it about?
When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her scheming step-sisters. Never one to give up hope, Ella's fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

My two cents:
Apparently, the guys at Disney seem to have found a new successful concept which is to release some live action versions of their most famous fairy tales. This time, they didn’t even try to add a new twist like they did with 'Alice in Wonderland' and with 'Sleeping Beauty' and they pretty much gave the most straightforward adaptation you could think of. However, since they still wanted to reach a respectable running time, they had to stretch everything a little bit longer than actually necessary but those additions didn’t really improve the whole thing, I'm afraid. At some point, Mark Romanek was actually supposed to direct the damned thing but, as usual, he dropped off because of the usual creative differences but I can’t help wondering what he would have done with the material. Fortunately, it remains watchable and fairly entertaining thanks to some decent visuals and a Cate Blanchett perfectly cast as Lady Tremaine.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 315 Average listal rating (209 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.2


Cast : Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh

What was it about?
Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

My two cents:
To be honest, I was really amazed by how underwhelming the whole thing turned out to be. I mean, it’s not that the whole thing was poorly directed or the actors involved were awful, it’s just that the story barely worked in my opinion. In fact, if you would take all the scenes separately from each other, they were usually decent but, together, it was frankly quite a mess. For example, in the introduction, we get to see how Jack Ryan got badly injured, especially his back, during the war in Afghanistan. They really took their time to show how messed up he was, how difficult it was for him to walk again which was fine. However, during the 2nd half of the movie, you get see the guy jumping around, doing some very physical stunts and fighting some bad guys along the way which was also fine on its own but it really clashed with what was displayed at the beginning. I could go on and on but it is just clear that it was a rather weak story, or at least, that it was really poorly written.

My rating: 05/10

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People who added this item 3154 Average listal rating (2044 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7
Thor (2011)


Cast : Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Idris Elba, Ray Stevenson, Jaimie Alexander, Rene Russo

What was it about?
The powerful but arrogant god Thor is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

My two cents:
First of all, I thought that Asgard looked very impressive with some awesome special effects and they managed rather well to mix the lyrical Asgard with our more pedestrian Earth. Furthermore, Chris Hemsworth was also very well cast and gave a convincing performance. Still, the whole thing didn't really convince me. I mean, if you remove Asgard and all what happens there, the whole thing took place just in a small place in New Mexico and that was it. So, the scope was rather small and it wasn't what you could call a great and awesome adventure. Furthermore, I think it is quite a shame to have such a great actress like Natalie Portman playing such a thankless role. On top of that, I didn't believe in her relationship with Chris Hemsworth and there was frankly not much chemistry between them. Eventually, I still think it was not bad at all and rather entertaining but don't expect anything really mind-blowing from it.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 334 Average listal rating (204 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
Sleuth (2007)


Cast : Michael Caine, Jude Law

What was it about?
On his sprawling country estate, an aging writer matches wits with the struggling actor who has stolen his wife's heart.

My two cents:
First of all, I have to admit it, even though I have an extensive knowledge about movies (by now, I have seen more than 5500 movies) , I still haven’t watch the great classic directed Joseph L. Mankiewicz so I can’t compare both versions. On the other hand, the fact I hadn’t seen the original version probably allowed me to appreciate more this remake. Anyway, I thought that both actors did a really good job here. Above all, in my opinion, Michael Caine's performance was seriously quite mesmerizing. As usual with Kenneth Branagh, the directing was really solid but this movie was really about the actors involved. And, yet, even though the whole thing was a rather intriguing picture, I guess it was still missing something completely win me over.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 0


Cast : a bunch of unknown actors

What was it about?
During World War I, in an unnamed country, a soldier named Tamino is sent by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the clutches of the supposedly evil Sarastro. But all is not as it seems.

My two cents:
This must be easily Kenneth Branagh's most obscure and least accessible movie I have seen so far (as a matter of fact, it hasn't been released in the US at all, not even on DVD). Indeed, it is an adaptation of the famous opera written by Mozart and I must admit that the music and songs were really awesome. However, it remains an acquired taste since there are barely 5 minutes of conventional dialogues and more than 2 hours of almost non-stop bombastic operatic singing. After a while, it thought it was rather tiresome and, honestly, I got a little bit bored. Furthermore, I'm not sure I did get all the story, it has probably to do with the fact that I wasn't familiar with this operatic language but I'm pretty sure that the plot doesn't really matter with this genre. I guess I'm not a fan of opera in general and it is probably one of the reasons why I didn't really enjoy the whole thing but since I'm always interested in new experiences, I still found it a very intriguing watch.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 104 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.3


Cast : Bryce Dallas Howard, Romola Garai, Alfred Molina, Kevin Kline

What was it about?
Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior, is raised at the court of Duke Frederick, with her cousin Celia. She falls in love with a young man named Orlando, but before she can even think twice about it, she is banished by Duke Frederick, who threatens death if she comes near the court again.

My two cents:
It was Kenneth Branagh's 5th Shakespeare adaptation but like most of the work he made in the 2000's, it was barely seen. There is actually much to enjoy here. Indeed, the whole thing looked pretty gorgeous with some very nice use of colors (just check the poster) and Bryce Dallas Howard never looked better. They made also an interesting choice to keep the original text which was sometimes a little bit hard to follow (I’m French but I saw the movie in English with Dutch subtitles...). Still, the language was pretty impressive and there was some pretty huge monologues, all respect for the actors involved. Still, I can’t say it was really amazing though. Indeed, I really didn’t care much about the story. Basically, it started as a drama but then, suddenly, it became a very frivolous (and rather boring) comedy. Furthermore, I didn’t really dig the whole thing about the girl disguised as a boy while nobody recognized her. I thought it was pretty tedious and not really interesting. Still, it remains a well made Shakespeare adaptation.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 63 Average listal rating (27 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6.1


Cast : Alessandro Nivola, Alicia Silverstone, Natascha McElhone, Kenneth Branagh, Matthew Lillard, Emily Mortimer, Timothy Spall

What was it about?
An update of the classic Shakespeare story, director Kenneth Branagh shot this movie like a classic 30s musical. The film tells the story of four best friends who swear off love.

My two cents:
After being really productive, it took this time 4 years for Kenneth Branagh to come up with a new directing effort and he started the 2000's with yet another Shakespeare adaptation. It definitely belongs to his most obscure work and it took me years to find this on DVD. The end-results was ok but nothing much than that, I'm afraid. I mean, first of all, except for Branagh, you have a B cast (see above) and they were not bad but compared to the all-star cast of 'Much Ado About Nothing' or'Hamlet', it was definitely another kind of ball game. So, the story was kind of weak, it mixed Shakespeare with some musicals songs and dances, a whole bunch of things which I'm not really fond of so, even though I have the utmost respect for the endeavor, I can't say I really enjoyed it.

My rating: 06/10

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People who added this item 577 Average listal rating (270 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8


Cast : Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Richard Attenborough, Billy Crystal, Judi Dench, Gérard Depardieu, John Gielgud, Rosemary Harris, Charlton Heston, Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Spall, Robin Williams

What was it about?
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer, his uncle. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

My two cents:
This is another movie I was eager to watch for ages. Seriously, I think it took me about 20 years to finally watch the damned thing. I have to admit that, even though I really wanted to see it after all this time, it was still worried about watching a 4 hour Shakespeare adaptation. Indeed, I managed to watch the huge director’s cut, also shot in 65mm (unfortunately, not on wide theater screen but on my own TV) , it was quite a marathon and, at the end, I have to admit that I was rather exhausted. Still, we should praise Kenneth Branagh for providing the ultimate adaptation of one of the most famous plays written by William Shakespeare. Yes, it was the very first time that someone tried to adapt all the text and all the dialogues and even though the idea of getting 4 hours of non-stop Shakespearean dialogues might sound pretty scary, it actually worked very well. Indeed, the whole thing was quite fascinating. On top of that Branagh always had a passion for the genre, he managed to have a top cast here and they all delivered some really strong performances.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.3


Cast : Joan Collins

What was it about?
Out of work actor Joe volunteers to help try and save his sister's local church for the community by putting on a Christmas production of Hamlet, somewhat against the advice of his agent Margaretta.

My two cents:
A year earlier, Kenneth Branagh made ‘Frankenstein’, his biggest and most ambitious project so far but it was rather poorly received (personally, I thought it was not bad though). Apparently, he was eager to make something much smaller and this movie definitely achieved this goal. Indeed, for the first time in his directing career, Branagh didn’t cast himself and I must admit that it was quite refreshing, especially after ‘Frankenstein’ which was pretty much a massive ego-trip. Anyway, basically, it was a rather simple movie, with a simple story with some decent characters but I thought it was quite entertaining.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 977 Average listal rating (602 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4


Cast : Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Hulce, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm, John Cleese

What was it about?
When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.

My two cents:
When it came out, more than 20 years ago, I actually saw this flick at the movie theater. Back then, the expectations were pretty high but it was not very well received. Indeed, this movie has a rather poor reputation but I think it is actually pretty good. First of all, I just love how baroque and decadent the whole thing looked like. Furthermore, in my opinion, the cast provided some good performances and I especially enjoyed John Cleese who was barely recognizable and, for once , he wasn't funny whatsoever but he was still pitch perfect. And obviously, it is and remains a classic but it is still quite a fascinating story. However, I have to admit it, the movie does lose some steam and focus especially during the 2nd half. On top of that, the whole thing did seem to be a huge ego-trip for Kenneth Branagh (he was the director, the lead actor and he spent way too much time without his shirt on showing off his marvelous abs). Eventually, it is indeed far from being a masterpiece but I still think it is an interesting and entertaining adaptation.

My rating: 07/10

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People who added this item 636 Average listal rating (364 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4


Cast : Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale, Imelda Staunton, Keanu Reeves, Robert Sean Leonard, Michael Keaton

What was it about?
Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well.

My two cents:
To be honest, it has been ages since I saw this flick, if I recall correctly I saw it in the movie theater when it was released so I must have been about 14 years old at the time. Maybe that’s why I had a hard time to connect with this flick, the fact that I was quite young. Anyway, I remember it very well, at the time of its release, it was critically heralded and one of the few Shakespearean adaptations that managed to be successful at the box-office. There was a really nice cast (see above) so the whole thing sounded really promising. Unfortunately, even though it was fairly entertaining, I thought the promising production was terribly fluffy. Of course, you might argue that it was written this way by Good Old William Shakespeare himself but, in my opinion, the story and the characters involved were rather shallow and not really interesting.

My rating: 06/10

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Cast : Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Imelda Staunton

What was it about?
Six former college friends, with two new friends, gather for a New Year's Eve weekend reunion at a large English countryside manor after ten years to reminisce about the good times now long gone.

My two cents:
I remember very well the first time I watched this flick. Back then, I was just about 13-14 years old and my older sister brought this movie on VHS (yeah, that was a long time ago…) at Christmas and, at the time, I think I had never seen anything like this before, a movie with no real plot but purely based on some realistic 3 dimensional characters and about their relationships with each other. Back in those days, Kenneth Branagh was one of the most promising directors around. Coming back to our main feature, I have to admit it, it was nothing really ground-breaking but there was such a delightful cast and they all delivered some solid performances. Above all, I thought the whole thing was really funny and quite smart and it was really refreshing after watching so many moronic comedies.

My rating: 08/10

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Cast : Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia, Derek Jacobi, Robin Williams

What was it about?
An amnesiac and a private eye find they might have a past life connection.

My two cents:
Back in the 90's, Kenneth Branagh was one of the most exciting directors around, I was a huge fan of his work and this movie turned out to be one of my favorites among his direction efforts. Indeed, back in those days, with Emma Thompson, they were definitely a golden couple and they made some great pictures together. I guess, one of the reasons why this movie worked so well for me was the fact that I hadn’t see yet so many preposterous thrillers with a ridiculously far-fetched plot so it might have allowed me to appreciate this movie slightly more than it actually deserved. Anyway, even though it might not be a masterpiece, I really loved the damned thing and I believe it is a really entertaining thriller.

My rating: 08/10

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People who added this item 233 Average listal rating (126 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Henry V (1989)


Cast : Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Christian Bale, Judi Dench

What was it about?
In the midst of the Hundred Years' War in 1415, the young King Henry V of England embarks on the conquest of France.

My two cents:
Obviously, there was no way that Kenneth Branagh would start his directing career with anything else than a Shakespeare adaptation. Back then, when it was released, it was a big critical success and, 25 years later, it is still considered as one one of the best Shakespeare film adaptations ever made. Indeed, Branagh went for a grittier and more realistic approach than other versions and he was praised for making the whole thing quite accessible to the mainstream audience. To be honest, I was probably too young the first time I saw it so I wasn’t really able to fully appreciate it but it was still a decent watch, no doubt about it. At the end of the day, I think you really need to be fan of the genre to really get into the whole thing but I will certainly give it another shot at some point.

My rating: 07/10
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Since I have finally managed to watch all the movies directed by Kenneth Branagh, I was really eager to make one of these lists for this director as well.

Enjoy!


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A Complete Review of various directors' work (53 lists)
list by johanlefourbe
Published 6 years, 2 months ago 7 comments



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