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Victor Frankenstein creates a living man from pieces of deceased men.
The creature he makes, though, feels abandoned, and soon turns bitter
and plots his revenge on Frankenstein. The viewer is torn between its
sympathy for the creature and its pity on Frankenstein.
Another reviewer has written that this film "takes a big dump on all previous 'Frankenstein' films from an almighty height." The language is a little more colorful than I am used to using, but the sentiment is completely accurate. Having read and enjoyed the "Frankenstein" novel (though "Dracula" is better), it was nice to see a telling on film that didn't wander too far from the script.
With Robert De Niro as the creature and Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, the cast is very impressive. Throw in Ian Holm and a few other acting giants, and this should be a memorable film. Somehow, though, I fear it has fallen through the cracks and has not been recalled by many. Even I was somewhat confused about the DeNiro presence.
Everything in this film runs smooth -- the directing, photography, the pace. There's an odd light-hearted moment with the creature and Frankenstein slipping in what is either water or amniotic fluid... that probably could have been cut. Overall, though, this the definitive "Frankenstein" adaption.
If you're a fan of horror movies, then this movie is not for you. But, if you're absolutely terrified of blood and gore (like me), you'd enjoy the film more. I had to watch this film in my English lesson (because we were studying the book) and I nearly fainted. Some of the boys in the class thought it was stupid and not scary at all, but most of the girls were terrified, including me. I know this sounds stupid, but if you're scared of the movie, you'll actually enjoy it. The boys, who thought the film was just idiotic, didn't bother watching it, so they didn't manage to enjoy it. But after I watched it, I thought ''Except for the scenes that made me feel like hiding under my table, that movie was actually pretty good!'' Victor Frankenstein's actor wasn't very good, but I thought Robert De Niro was fantastic, and so was Victor's fiancé (forgot her name). Sorry if this review barely makes any sense!
I read the book, which I liked very much, before I saw the movie and I am very sad to say that I was very much disappointed...It wasn't what I expected... The movie is nothing like the book, which is excellent, so if any of you want to know the real story of Frankenstein dedicate some time to read the book and don't bother watching the movie!!! Mary Shelley communicates great messages through her book, which unfortunately are lost or twisted in the movie. Of course, I should say that Robert DeNiro's performance as the monster was splendid. It was one of his best roles. He was so good, that occasionally I forgot that Robert DeNiro was the monster. He is perfectly adapted to the role.
FRANKENSTEIN is one of the most creative and historically prominent
stories in literature, and after scores of recreations, Kenneth Branagh
has decided to give it a try.
KB's version is a melodramatic exercise in overacting and great make-up. With theater actors galore, some good set designs, and one or two corsets, this film had the passion and the budget to deliver. And it did, but just partially.
Victor Frankenstein, after the passing of his mother, makes an ode to himself to become a successful doctor and search out medical truth through what every means necessary. This leads him to follow in a predecessors footsteps, by continuing work that would inevitably rebuild life.
He grows a little mad, and before he knows it, literally, he has a super strong corpse puzzle, who is just a little confused as to what he is and how to act. Frankenstein decides to reject his creation, only to be awoken by his new pal the next morning. The "monster" escapes, learns the truth of his life, and swears revenge.
Robert De Niro is pretty bad ass at times as the creation, especially one scene where he stands outside a burning cabin, and Helen Bonham Carter is great as well, but both suffer from the occasional ham and cheese, as does the whole of the film(a certain scene with a storm cloud), and you just have to shake your head and laugh.
It's not really gory, and not that violent or graphic either, but I guess the subject matter and Kenneth Branagh's chest hair is reason enough to merit an R rating.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film was good. But.....
Good points first: It was almost completely faithful to the book until halfway through. Great acting from all involved. Music, costumes and scenery were all great.
Bad points: It strays from the book so much the further into the film you get. Most of the time, it's to make the story more dramatic and 'Hollywood'. For example: Justine is trialled in the book but hanged instantly in the film. Also, Victor meets the creature on a glacier whilst on holiday with his family in the book, whereas in the film the monster purposely comes to find him. Victor does not end up creating the second monster in the book, but in the film there is an awful sequence in which he reanimates Elizabeth, who was violently murdered. She then sets herself on her fire and runs through the house, setting it on fire and jumps from a large height. Many other changes were made, however some were simply to cut time (as movies do).
One major thing is that in the book, Frankenstein is a flawed man (a quality of a Greek Tragedy). This leads to his downfall, and nobody can deny it. However, in the film Ken Branagh obviously could not stand to play a bad character (think of what it would do to his image!), so any flaw of Victor mentioned is transferred to the creature, portraying him as the morally evil one. This completely rules out one of the key points in the book - the nature/nurture argument. If you raise your children properly, they will turn out fine. If you leave them to nature, anything could happen. Victor did not care for the creature, so eventually, after A SERIES OF TERRIBLE EVENTS (not caused by the creature), he has no choice but to turn bad. However, the film shows him as the bad guy (ok, when the monster is with the cottagers he's trying to be kind, but when he tells his tale to Victor, he is portrayed as completely evil - in the book, he's trying to make amends).
So there we go. If you have no intention of reading the book then watch this film. If you like extravagant scenes with explosions and violent deaths, watch this. However, if you love the wonderfully intelligent novel by Mary Shelley, you may want to give this one a miss (at least after watching half of it). I guess we're still waiting for a faithful film...
Robert DeNiro is beyond his talents. He is a one trick pony who can
only play a New York street guy, nothing else. See the original with
Boris Karloff to see a performance that works. Branaugh admitted that
DeNiro was miscast and would not take direction well.
The 1931 version has better acting, better dialog, and a better director. The special effects are quite good for its time and still hold up today. Don't miss it if you haven't seen it. The only positive thing this one has is it sticks to the novel, but everything else is worse.
Color adds nothing to this film, since much takes place in snow and the monster is dressed in a Trappist Monk's habit. DeNiro is ludicrous!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Branagh's Frankenstein, for all of its flaws and imperfections, is undeniably interesting. Given Branagh's history and Shakespearian background, it is surprising that his adaptation of Mary Shelley's pioneering sci fi horror is orchestrated the way it has been. Infamous for his incredibly accurate and rear-numbingly long interpretation of "Hamlet," Kenneth Branagh isn't a name usually associated with making changes and taking dramatic liberties with film adaptations of classic works. In "Frankenstein," this is exactly what he has done. Some of the changes are indeed welcome. Victor Frankenstein's obsession with his "project" is well played out by Branagh, and the addition of a strain on his relationship with Elizabeth is a dramatic necessity. Most of Shelley's formal, almost poetic dialogue has been discarded in favour of a more realistic sounding script, unfortunately likely to cater for the less literature - orientated of audiences. Nevertheless, this works well and compliments the late eighteenth century set piece to a high degree. It makes the film more believable and the characters more susceptible to empathy whereas a direct script may not have worked in a film for mainstream audiences. Whilst these and other changes are minor and do not harm the adaptation with artistic license, there are too many key omissions and additions that do just that. In the sequence wherein Robert De Niro's "Creature" begins learning human abilities such as reading, communication and emotion, the ever so relevant works of literature which he reads in the novel are absent. In Shelley's text, the Creature reads "Paradise Lost," a novel telling the story of Adam and Eve's struggle upon leaving Eden into the imperfect real world. The parallels between Adam from "Paradise Lost" and "Frankenstein's" Creature are many. Both have been forced into the world by a creator who has turned his back on them, Frankenstein in the eponymous novel, and God in "Paradise Lost". Both must learn to adapt to this new world whilst struggling to come to terms with their harsh dismissal from that of their birth givers. While not essential to the plot, a nod to that work of literature would have been welcome. Also missing, and far more damaging to Branagh's doomed movie, is the tremendous sense of loss and loneliness that drives the novel. In Shelley's text, Victor often reflects on the passing of a better life and the doom and gloom that his failed experiment has brought him. He loses all his cherished loved ones in such a short time and it completely destroys his spirits. Branagh made a fatal error in omitting this, one which renders the character of Victor as less amiable than he could have been and ultimately severs the emotion this film creates. Whilst (despite the dismissal of certain themes and sub plots) "Frankenstein" is somewhat a faithful adaptation, the "Wedding Night" sequence takes huge liberties and is completely unnecessary. Victor barely mourns his wife's death (which, prior to the reanimation, is extremely faithful to the book) before chopping her to pieces in order to bring her to life. This scene, completely absent from Shelley's novel, is clearly done for no other reason than to shock audiences. The idea that Victor would spend his life married to a living corpse is repulsive. Shelley's Victor would not consider this, seeing as he regards his creation as a "Demon." It is an utterly ridiculous ending, although it does highlight the issue of who the real evil is. Surely Victor cannot assume his creation is evil if he is willing to marry a similar creation. Ridiculous ending aside, the film could have been saved by strong performances from its lead players. Unfortunately, excluding Branagh, these are not present. Tom Hulce is almost emotionless and undesirable as Henry Clerval, who Shelley intended as an optimistic and joy bringing presence whose death (again completely left out in this interpretation) utterly cripples Victor emotionally. Helena Bonham Carter's Elizabeth is also unconvincing, failing to strike empathy and sympathy into audiences, whilst De Niro's curiously Italian - American Creature is underwhelming and gives the impression that De Niro is having as much fun playing the creature as we are watching him. Overall, "Frankenstein's" under-performing leads, glaring omissions and unnecessary additions (not to mention atrocious lighting and a ridiculously out of place soundtrack) make this film almost impossible to enjoy or indeed take seriously. Unfortunately, seriousness is exactly what makes the Novel so impacting.
I went into this with very few expectations, simply because I didn't
know what to expect. I must say it turned out to be a decent flick, but
rather hit-and-miss in places.
The plot is a classic one, and it is handled very well here. The message is made quite obvious, and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, I do wish that they would have been more subtle about it. It also suffers from some very bad writing, with many very poor lines. Still, it's an interesting account of the story.
The actors are, for the most part, very good. Branagh does a great job on both sides of the camera, but he really shines here as an actor. He does a fantastic job as Victor. As for DeNiro, I'm somewhat torn. He gave a great performance as the Creature, however I'm not sure that I liked how the character was portrayed. He was a very uneven character, who seemed to change his entire mindset on the drop of a dime. Perhaps this was intentional, but if so it wasn't handled very well.
One thing that I rarely comment on about of movie is the score, though I feel the need to mention it here. A good, though generic, score, I was very annoyed at how intrusive it could be. It seemed very out of place most of the time.
Finally, the pacing was very uneven. It moved along at a good clip most of the time, but was almost unbearably slow in the middle.
Despite it's flaws, this is a pretty good film. I enjoyed it, and it's recommended by me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, I know the movie is almost 12 years old but I've just watched it
for the first time and it is quite simply so bad that it prompted me to
register just to comment.
I gave this movie a 3/10 and that was only for the scenery. The casting and characterisation bothered me from from the opening scenes in the Arctic. I can't help wondering if those involved with the screenplay and casting choices actually read Shelley's Frankenstein or simply read an abridged comic book version.
I understand taking certain "artistic licenses" when adapting a novel to movie form, especially one written in the 1800's but... in my opinion, this movie went too far.
Minor spoilers, only in the first quarter of the movie should serve to illustrate my point: The movie opens in the Artic in 1794. It then flashes back (yes, this is true to the book, besides the names and locations one of the only things that is) to 1793 when Victor leaves for University. This leads the viewer to believe that only the passage of one year was involved between leaving for university, creating the creature and chasing him to the Arctic. For any who have read the book, this is glaringly inaccurate.
The second liberty that made me cringe was Henry Clerval. I think Tom Hulce was one of the few good casting choices in the movie but they played too fast and loose with the characters background. In the novel, Henry was Victor's friend in Geneva. Henry wanted to go to university with Victor but Henry's father wanted his son to learn business, not the sciences. Henry does not arrive in Ingolstadt until AFTER Victor gives life to the creature. In the movie, Henry is a student of science who meets Victor for the first time at university.
I could go on but I this post would become far too long. I will agree with a prior review I read here that lead to my making this post, the scenery is beautiful but there was no "complete faithfulness to the story".
This movie captures the essence of Mary Shelley's book but takes a few liberties with her story. Watch this film without commercials and editing for TV to get the full effect of the drama and tension. The few gory scenes could have been omitted and the film not affected. Definitely not a movie for the squeamish. I wish the screenplay writer would have explored Victor Frankenstein's internal conflicts further. He claims he has made a horrible mistake--whether it is due to what he has discovered, or what he has created, is somewhat vague, but seems to be both. He reacts to the situation by ignoring it, and faces it only when forced to. The movie vilified the monster, whereas the book, portrayed the monster with more sympathy; more as an innocent child caught up Victor's distraught thoughts and emotions.
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