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The Invisible Man More at IMDbPro »

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41 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Visibly stunning!!!

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
5 October 2005

James Whale is, for good reason, most famous for his Frankenstein films. However, better than both (albeit marginally) is this film - The Invisible Man. When I first saw this, I couldn't believe that it's over seventy years old and upon a second viewing; the film just gets better and better. Considering the time in which it was made, The Invisible Man is one of the most amazing films of all time. The special effects are what really make the film. CGI has pretty much spoilt this sort of reaction to a movie. The Invisible Man really has that 'how did they do it?' feel, which movie audiences of yesteryear so often enjoyed, and it's done such a good job with it that I'm still wondering today. The plot gives way to lots of trickery and visual magic as it follows a mad scientist who has turned himself invisible. However, things aren't so simple because one of the drugs he used has properties that can turn a man insane; and this side of the drug has had a huge effect on our man. Believing he can take over the world, he recruits the help of one of his fellow scientists and sets about a reign of invisible terror.

You would think that it would be hard to convince an audience that one of your characters is invisible; but Whale makes it look easy! Claude Rains spends much of the film either under the cover of bandages or not even in it, but it doesn't matter because it's not him but his voice that makes the performance. The fiendishness of his voice is compelling and pure evil, and I don't believe that there is a better man in existence for this role. There isn't a lot of physical acting for him to do, but this is made up for with a dazzling array of special effects. We get to see a shirt move on it's own, things fly around rooms and havoc is caused. It really shows Whale's genius to pull this off. Whale is best known as a horror director, but it's obvious that he has a great respect for comedy also as his Frankenstein films were very tongue-in-cheek, and so is this film. The scenes that see the invisible man causing mayhem are hilarious, and will delight anyone who sees the film. Whale's ability to entertain is absolute, and that is why the films he made for the studio were always the biggest successes. The Invisible Man is one of the greatest achievements in cinema history, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong!

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35 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Transparency is not all that bad, is it?

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
8 September 2001

Talented direction from James Whale. Mildly chilling tale based on the imagination of H.G. Wells. Introduction to a versatile star, Claude Rains. Short movie in length, but the mixture of thrills, chills and humor help make this a real classic. The special effects of the 30's seem so unsophisticated, but very enjoyable to this day. Rain's starring debut is 99.98 percent vocal and very memorable. The changes in his voice from glee to madness gives certain character to his invisible role.

A brilliant chemist/scientist(Rains) discovers how to make himself invisible. He wrecks havoc in a small British country village as pranks turn to murder. Memorable are the scenes of the invisible man smoking and riding a bicycle; and of course unwrapping.

Also in the cast are:William Harrigan, Gloria Stuart, E.E. Clive and Una O'Connor. At a certain point you wish that O'Connor's funny, but obnoxious character was shorter lived. Dated or not, this is a classic that still demands watching. Creepy and fun for all.

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31 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Somewhat Shocking!

Author: BaronBl00d ( from NC
6 November 2000

Oh! What a wonderful film! The Invisible Man is fraught with witty dialogue, excellent character acting, inventive and creative special effects, insightful direction, and solid, tight scripting. The story is about a scientist that develops a serum which turns himself invisible, for good intent initially. The serum has negative side effects, one of which is turning the scientist into a raving,mad megalomaniac bent on conquering mankind and the world. What is most surprising about the film is its rather perverse sense of black humour(a James Whale specialty) and its cruelty. The Invisible Man is not a benign horror monster but rather a frightening, destructive force capable of acts of violence, madness, and viciousness. The direction is the real star of the film as Whale combines script, acting, mood, and setting amidst the background of ground-breaking special effects that are still impressive to this day. Whale laces his special humour throughout, and this film has no shortage of dark comedic moments. The acting all around is very good with people like Henry Travers, Gloria Stuart, Una O'Connor and William Harrigan especially as a jealous doctor giving all the support they can to a formless Claude Rains. Rains's voice is magnificent and one senses he was made to play the part that would make him famous. Look for Dwight Frye in a small role. A wonderful film experience!

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37 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

Best Special effects ever

Author: the narrator from Sydney, Australia
20 August 2000

The Invisible Man is a classic movie, with special effects that can still be wowed at today. The reason why these special effects are so great is that they didn't have computers 70 years ago, so you can watch and say 'How'd they do that?". The acting is great, too, and there is even a bit of humour in there too. One of the best horror movies of the 30's. 9/10.

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Classic horror

Author: perfectbond
18 December 2004

I actually saw The Invisible Man (1933) shortly after I saw the James Whale bio-pic Gods and Monsters (1998), starring Ian MacKellan and Brendan Fraser. So it was with that image of the director in my head that I watched this film. Claude Rains (Casablanca) is perfectly cast as the mad scientist/invisible man. The remainder of the cast, though not really challenged much, are more than serviceable in what they are required to do. As has been mentioned by most of the other posters, the special effects hold up rather well even today. An amazing feat considering the film is over 70 years old! The DVD has several interesting documentaries / commentaries that made me appreciate not only this film's entertainment value but its historical significance as well.

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Works Very Well

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
1 December 2004

This film version of the H.G. Wells science fiction classic works very well. It has a number of strengths, but it benefits most of all from James Whale's direction, creativity, and technical excellence. Both the flashier aspects of the movie (such as the "invisibility" effects) and also most of the basic elements are done with skill.

The story is for the most part based on the one main idea of "The Invisible Man" who combines his scientific genius with a generous supply of madness. The story is interesting enough in itself, and of course it provides all kinds of opportunities for visual tricks. Whale hits just the right balance in making good use of these opportunities without over-indulging himself.

The visual effects themselves are of excellent quality, and they are far better than all but the very best of the present-day computer imagery. While it is usually rather easy to spot which parts of a movie are computer-generated, Whale's effects are all but seamless, with the exception of a handful of brief moments. They are often quite impressive, without resorting to tired devices, such as explosions and the like, in order to impress those with shorter attention spans.

Claude Rains does quite well for having such limitations on what he could do. The rest of the cast is solid, if mostly unspectacular, letting the story do the work. Una O'Connor somewhat overdoes it with the screaming this time, but otherwise the characters are believable. The acting may seem slightly quaint to those who are accustomed to the pretentious styles of the present generation of performers, but it's certainly better than the grating, self-important performances in some of the recent movies of the same genre.

While the story does not have the thematic depth or the suggestive imagery of horror classics like "Frankenstein" or "Dracula", this adaptation gets everything it can out of the material, telling the story in an entertaining fashion and with technical skill.

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Bone-chilling Rains debut - a true sci-fi classic

Author: ( from fairview, nj
10 April 2003

THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933) **** Claude Rains is super scary as mad scientist Griffin in HG Wells' classic horror novel about the power of being invisible thanks to a serum with some dangerous effects. Atmospherically directed by James Whale ("Frankenstein"). Great visual effects for its time that stand up well to today's standards. Chilling.

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44 out of 70 people found the following review useful:

Film Still Holds Up, Is Fun Except For Shrieker

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
10 October 2006

This was great the first time I watched it, but slowly declined with multiple viewings over the years.

Why I slowly lost interest in this, I'm not sure, except for perhaps the incredibly annoying hysterical woman character played by Una O'Connor. Her constant screaming and shrieking took away my enjoyment of this film.

This was Claude Rains' first starring role and he did a fine job, even though you never see his face until the final minutes. His voice was good and his character interesting as he slowly went insane. He had this silly, sadistic laugh as he'd kill people. That's one thing that made this movie a bit different. When I watched this on DVD after a long absence, I was shocked to re-discover how violent Rains' character was in this film.

Even though the film is almost 75 years old, it's still fairly entertaining and not dated as much as you might expect. It also brings out a few interesting dilemmas that an invisible human being would have trying to stay undetected.

By the way, I still think this should be classified "science fiction," not horror.

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A classic film with good effects and a solid story – will not impress modern audiences that much but is still worth seeing

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
29 October 2004

Scientist Griffin disappears from his lab, leaving his colleagues Kemp and Cranley wondering where he has gone. Meanwhile a strange man arrives at an inn, covered in bandages, hat and long coat and acting mysterious. When the other residents of the inn claim that this man is 'invisible', police assume they are suffering some sort of group delusion. Meanwhile Griffin arrives back to see Kemp, clearly (sorry!) invisible and suffering side effects of madness. With his friends trying to help him and the police trying to catch him, Griffin's inability to find a cure continues to eat at his sanity, sending him into a frenzy.

The first thing to note is that any film that is over 70 years old will clearly not hold the same appeal to modern audiences as films made recently do. Those looking to this film to provide the same effects or violence as seen in Hollow Man (for example) will not only be disappointed but they will also be open to accusations of being simply unfair. However, viewed on its own terms, this is a great little film that has impressive effects, an exciting and tragic story mixed with some good (if a little hammy) acting. The basic plot works well, considering that it expects us to be right there with it without any real back story about who Griffin was. I'm not sure why this was done this way (constraints of running time maybe?) but it works well as the film is to fast moving to be slowed by a long build up. It still manages to show Griffin's descent into madness despite the fact he is already losing at the start of the film.

The effects work well even if they (obviously) don't compare to what computers can do, however they still look good and the lead character is convincingly invisible; if anything it is actually more effective because the 'money shots' are sparingly used and then used to good effect. The pace of the film really helps as it is remains exciting and enjoyable all the way to the inevitable conclusion. The acting of the cast helps although it is Rains' film the whole way to the final scene (where he is finally seen!). He may overplay his madness but who can complain when it is such fun? What impressed me is that he is either invisible or behind a mask for the vast majority of the film but yet still manages to make a big impression regardless. Stuart didn't impress me one bit and seemed like her character would have been important with backstory – but without it she just came across as a simpering starlet with little involvement in the story, trying to build a human side that was not the focus of the rest of the film. Harrigan and Travers are convincing and the support cast all run around and scream accordingly.

Overall this is an enjoyable film that has good effects and an enjoyable plot. The script could have done more to create more of a human story and draw more emotion from the audience but the fast pace and convincing thrills cover this up well. I was taken by how dark the material was – I never expected the 'hero' of the film to kill innocents, this helped me get into it because I was quite shocked by it; this was again more effective than the graphic and obvious gore of modern versions. Not a perfect film but a classic one and rightly so!

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14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

"I think we'll start with a reign of terror."

Author: bensonmum2 from Tennessee
17 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

People tend to use the word "classic" too freely. I can't help but laugh when I hear some of the movies that people call "classics". The term gets thrown around so much that it often looses some of its importance and real meaning. I try to reserve "classic" to a select group of films that I believe have achieved a certain status and have withstood the test of time. And I have no problem putting the label "classic" on The Invisible Man.

James Whale made a lot of great films in the 1930s. Some (Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, for example) may be better known, but I've always thought of The Invisible Man as the best of the bunch. It's got everything. Terrific performances, incredible special effects, nice comedic touches, and technical brilliance are found in abundance throughout the film.

- Terrific Performances: For someone who only has a few seconds of actual screen time, Claude Rains is amazing. His voice creates such a presence that at times it's easy to forget that he's not actually there. As for Una O'Connor, I've seen some people complain about Whale's use of her, but I think she was never better than in The Invisible Man. She's great whether playing the proper landlord showing a new guest to his room or as the overly hysterical woman afraid for her life. The rest of the cast, especially E.E. Clive and Gloria Stuart, is exceptional.

- Incredible Special Effects: It's amazing to revisit The Invisible Man and see how well the special effects have withstood the passage of time. They were state-of-the-art in 1933 and they remain impressive today. It took some real craftsmanship to pull-off the invisibility gags seen in The Invisible Man. To me, none is more impressive than the first time we get a glimpse under the bandages while he's eating and we see no lower jaw. Impressive stuff!

- Nice Comedic Touches: Billed as a horror film, The Invisible Man actually contains more scenes of humor than horror. I've already mentioned O'Connor, but she's only a small part of the humor in the film. The police, the various frightened passersby, and even Claude Rains himself add to the fun found in The Invisible Man. I'm of the opinion that it never goes overboard, but fits nicely into the plot.

- Technical Brilliance: Beyond the special effects, the film is wonderful from a technical standpoint. Lighting, cinematography, and set design are incredible and some of the best of the 30s. Everything looks perfect. In my opinion, Whale never did better. I've always been impressed by the way Whale used his camera as part of the action when many of his contemporaries seemed content with the "plant it and shoot" style of film-making.

The only negative aspect of the film that I can possibly complain about is William Harrigan in the role of Rains' rival, Dr. Arthur Kemp. He's just not as good as those around him. Other than that little quibble, I've got nothing to complain about. I believe it should be easy to see why I, for one, consider The Invisible Man a classic!

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