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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Frankenstein

10/10
Author: TRielly26-1 from United States
20 November 2005

I just finished reading the novel and watching the film Frankenstein. Watching the film gave me a better appreciation for the novel. The film revealed certain aspects of the book which I could not imagine through the novel. The movie was able to evoke feelings of emotion. I especially liked the scene where the monster is observing the family. The monster is able to recognize the struggle that the family is going through, and is able to lend a helping hand. This shows how the monster was able to develop emotions and feelings. This scene strengthens my humanistic view of the monster. While I was reading the novel it seemed difficult to imagine a monster of that caliber being so caring and kind. Watching the film made me become sympathetic to the monster. The monster was shunned by society for no apparent reason. The monster was hideous, but his purpose was not to bring evil and sorrow to society. I believe that society is to blame for the murders which occurred in this novel. Ultimately Victor Frankenstein is to blame; however society did lend a hand in manipulating Victors mind. Victor became obsessed with the ability to control nature. He wanted to test the laws of life and death.

I seem to have two different viewpoints regarding Victor Frankenstein's intentions while conducting his studies. While I was reading the novel I began to get a feeling that Victor wanted to test the scientific theories. He wanted to be a rebel and be the first scientist to break through the norm. He wanted to be revolutionary. His obsession with becoming the first and greatest drove him to insanity. It became his life. The book made it clear that Victor felt life and death could be manipulated. His reasons for investigating this sort of work seemed only to benefit the field of modern science. However, while I was watching the movie I tended to perceive a different viewpoint. The main scene which turned my point of view was the scene where Victor brings Elizabeth back to life. This scene was added for "theatrical effect," however I thought this scene had a great affect on the overall essence of the movie. It made me believe that Victor was playing God. He wanted to hold the same abilities. His interest in investigating modern science was destroyed, and he was using his knowledge for personal gain. I believe watching the movie and reading the novel together gave me a better understanding of the novel. I was able to interpret and understand different aspects of the story due to my exposure to both pieces.

Overall I thought that the story was revolutionary. It shed light on new scientific ideas. We are faced with many similar issues today which are presented in this story. For example, is it morally right to clone human beings? Is it morally right to bring the dead back to life? This novel was a revolutionary piece and has had a strong impact on me as a reader and as a member of society. This story made me think about certain issues which we are faced with on a daily basis. Should we leave life and death up to nature or should we test the realms of this science like Victor Frankenstein had?

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Bad, bad, bad and sometimes worse

3/10
Author: nicky_too from Netherlands
1 June 2004

Finally I saw this movie and it's hopeless. It is supposed to be based on the book, I heard. Well, half of the movie is not to be found in the book. At some point it became so ridiculous I was actually laughing.

The only good thing in this failure is Robert De Niro, who was very touching as the 'monster'. His performance was very close to the book. He gives the 'monster' a heart, as it should be.

Otherwise, don't bother seeing this thing. It's a waste of time and not worth the title of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. This is actually Kenneth Brannagh's Frankenstein.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A very brave effort; a very bad result.

1/10
Author: Tiny-11 from Wisconsin
5 January 1999

Francis Ford Coppola and Kenneth Branagh make a very brave effort in retelling Mary Shelly's story, especially in a time when all anyone recalls is that the monster's name is Frankenstein, and that he had a flat head. It's too bad the effort fell as flat. The film starts with promise, then takes a nasty and predictable turn when Dr. Waldeman is murdered. What follows is just another uninspired gory romp, trying to disguise itself as a true retelling of Frankenstein. This movie bares no more resemblance to the original novel than any other incarnation. Kenneth Branagh needs a kick in the teeth, Coppola needs to return to his glory days as a brilliant film maker, and De Niro needs to ask himself why he keeps taking on such awful roles. If these guys were to make a film of the life of Christ, they would have Him climb down from the cross and kick some Roman butt, and still claim accuracy.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Laughable camp fest masquerading as high art.

Author: eko123 from Toronto, Canada
3 September 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This adaptation of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" was just as ridiculous if not worse than the original 1940s Hollywood flick with Boris Karloff. Aside from the over-the-top acting, atrocious dialogue ("Brother and sister no more...now husband and wife..."), and an utter disregard for the original plotline of the novel, I guess the visual effects and scenery weren't too bad...at least when Kenneth Brannagh wasn't chewing it up! De Niro's performance wasn't too bad either.

Many of the changes in the story seemed to make little sense (WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD). For example, when Frankenstein resurrects Elizabeth, why did he have to cannibalize parts from Justine's body...couldn't he have simply removed the heart as that was all he needed to revive her? As well, how was Elizabeth able to set herself on fire or the rest of the house for that matter? I thought her body would still be damp from the resurrection process?

Even Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" can be considered a better adaptation of the novel than this godawful, self-indulgent piece of tripe. A 1 out of 10 rating, out of pity for those involved.

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5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Outlandish, terrible, boring.

1/10
Author: aqua_swing from Canada
27 March 2005

Did you like Wild Wild West, and how outlandish it was? Are you a fan of terrible movies? Do you think movies are sometimes better than the book? Than this movie is for you. Never have I seen a more disturbingly terrible translation of book to movie than in this case. The acting was more than sub par, the scenery outlandish, and not for one second was it ever terrifying. These are the kind of movies you'd leave, or throw your popcorn at. The worst part about it all was that DeNiro's makeup and version of the Monster was promising, but cut short behind a muddle of boredom and sped up story, if only to put a beautiful book into two hours of over dramaticized slaughtering that only came to an end when the fast forward button or skip scene button would be pressed, just to get me out of the anger I felt towards specific scenes.

See the original Frankenstein. Sure, it doesn't follow the book and is more based on a play than this version, but the acting is strong, and Karloff's monster, though silent, is a much more believable being.

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23 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

The Best Version Of FRANKENSTEIN that I have Ever Seen!

Author: Big_Captain_Splatter from C-Town
7 October 2004

I have seen the old black and white version of FRANKENSTEIN and I have seen the HAMMER HORROR version of FRANKENSTEIN, which was titled The Curse Of Frankenstein, and though they are both excellent, neither are as good as MARY SHELLY'S FRANKENSTEIN!

We have Victor Frankenstein, who is going to college to study science. He is a very ambitions man, and he wants to study what no school will dare teach: Bringing The Dead, Back To Life! So he meets a man who works at this college, who is curious about the same things that Victor is, but for some reason, he refuses to let Victor take it too far. Then, when this man dies, there is nobody to stop Victor from taking his experiments to the next level!

This is a MUST SEE for any Frankenstein fans. For those of you who know the story of Frankenstein through the old Universal Monster Movies, this film takes the story of FRANKENSTEIN, and the story of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and combines them. But with a slightly different and slightly better ending. There is a lot more violence in this film then in the old Black and White versions, but it follows the same story line.

Robert De Niro gives an excellent performance as the monster. I couldn't believe it was him on the screen. I have never seen him act out a part like this before. But he pulled it off beautifully, and nobody could have done it better.

You gotta check this flick out, trust me, you won't regret it!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Despite a miscast monster and some serious issues with the break-neck pacing, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" still delivers as a solid take on the classic tale of horror.

7/10
Author: MaximumMadness from United States
12 October 2016

Ask a random group of people for a list of the most recognizable faces of horror, and chances are the name "Frankenstein" will appear somewhat on that list. And why shouldn't it? Since the creation of the characters near 200 years ago, Frankenstein (or more correctly "Frankenstein's monster") has become an icon of not only horror, but of popular culture in general. With dozens of film adaptations, spin- off works, comics, video games and other examples in just about every other conceivable medium, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster is the stuff of legend!

One of the more peculiar entries in this vast franchise however has to be director Kenneth Branagh's hotly debated and polarizing 1994 adaptation "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." Conceived of as a sort-of sibling to Francis Ford Coppola's popular 90's "Dracula" feature, the film was subject to some behind-the-scenes drama and was met with mixed reception from critics and fans alike. But beyond all of the drama and second guessing, does the film itself work? Beyond the he-said, she-said... is it a good movie when it all comes down to it?

...pretty much. It's not the best of the adaptations based around the story, and believe me, it has problems a plenty. But I can't say it was a failure, and if you asked, I'd have to admit that when it comes to "Frankenstein" on screen... it's pretty good.

We all know the story. A brilliant doctor who is trying to find the cure to death itself. The monster he creates in his attempts to discover the key to creating life. And the tragedy to follow. What sets this particular take on the tale apart is the sheer thrills of director Branagh's (who also stars) visual direction and the wide and varied cast that populates the story. And for the most part, they are the highlights here.

Branagh's got a keen visual sense, this much is evident from his vast array of work. Everything from his Shakespeare adaptations to even his more mainstream work like the Marvel Studios flick "Thor" oozes his kinetic and hyper-real style. And that's on full-display here. I get the feeling that Branagh is trying to mold the film to reflect the manic excitement of Victor himself, and I do think it's an interesting new way to present the story. With flowing camera-work, tilted angles and wild editing, you really get the feeling of how obsessed Frankenstein is in his attempts to create life and how it all implodes around him due to the unforeseen circumstances of his experiments. It's almost shot more akin to a high-stakes action picture than a tale of Gothic horror, but it works for the most part. Although it can be an occasional detriment during the slower scenes of character and story development. Something co-writer Frank Darabont has bemoaned in some interviews, as he viewed the film as a slower and more dramatic character piece. Still, I think that Branagh's wild eye meshes well with the story being told. He just needs to stop drinking so much caffeine during the slower and more deliberate scenes!

The cast is a great deal of fun. Branagh makes for a wonderfully crazed new Victor with the giddiness and the excitement of a schoolboy who simply cannot deal with personal tragedy. Helena Bonham Carter makes for a fantastic Elizabeth, despite often being relegated to the sidelines and you really do root for her and Victor's relationship. Classic actor Tom Hulce is a blast as Victor's best friend. And supporting roles by the likes of John Cleese and Ian Holm are all exceptionally well cast.

Then there's the monster. Oh boy. Look, I love Robert De Niro, and I'm sure if I wasn't as aware of him as I am that I'd like his version of the monster even more... but there's no getting around it. When you watch the film, you're not seeing a tragic figure of a monster who feels betrayed and abandoned. You're seeing Robert De Niro under heavy makeup. He's trying his hardest and it's a decent performance, but I can't help but feel it's a major miscast because it's so distracting and once or twice it will take you out of the movie.

Beyond that, the production is top notch. Patrick Doyle's dark score is haunting and tragic, and is among my favorites of the decade. Roger Pratt's cinematography is absolutely stunning and is lush and wild and dreary and all things that the story call for. Magnificent work. Tim Harvey and James Acheson deliver a splendid one-two punch with their work in production and costume design, giving everything a realistic but stylish flair to augment Victor's crazed energy. (Don't get me started on Victor's fantastic laboratory set!) And all others involved are on-game in the best of ways.

The only major aspect of the production I must question is the editing, which in conjunction with Branagh's deranged visuals causes many a problem and is where the film loses some points. This is just a psychotically edited movie. Yes, I understand the purpose behind it... but it feels disjointed and scattershot as a result, with far too many scenes beginning and ending on a whim without proper establishment or payoff, and some cutting that feels sloppy due to the editor and Branagh trying to fit in as many angles and shots as possible. It's a big problem here and I get the feeling that it's where the film will lose a lot of people.

Still, for my money, the excellent cast and visually arresting direction trump these issues for the most part. It may have benefited from more deliberate pacing and a different choice of monster... but it's not a bad film for these issues. Merely a troubled one.

And so, I'm giving "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" a pretty-good 7 out of 10. Worth seeing for fans looking for a slightly different spin on the iconic classic.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

From The Director Of Henry V, Dead Again And Much Ado About Nothing Comes A Faithful Retelling Of Mary Shelley's Classic Novel.

10/10
Author: ancientliteraturehistory
12 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Woefully underrated, this cinematic take on Mary Shelley's novel returns to the source material for the first time, and faithfully reproduces scenes from it while expanding the elements in the source material, much like James V. Hart had done with Bram Stoker's Dracula two years earlier.

Shakespeare veteran Kenneth Branagh stars as Victor Frankenstein, provides uncredited rewrites and directs this magnificent photo-play. Two time Academy Award winner Robert DeNiro co-stars as The Creature, Helena Bonham-Carter co-stars as Elizabeth, and Tom Hulce co-stars as Henry Clerval, Victor's friend (a part that is usually combined with another character). Patrick Doyle (Branagh's collaborator) provides the music, and as always, his contribution is a huge part of the film. Academy Award winner Francis Ford Coppola produces the motion picture.

Contains mild spoilers.

Yes, this version also takes certain liberties with the source material, but like Bram Stoker's Dracula, these serve to expand the source material and do not hurt the movie in any way. However, I am curious about one thing: Why were scenes in the trailer and television spots cut from the film? It is always annoying when that occurs, but the least that can be done is to put those scenes on the DVD, and explain why they were eliminated from the final cut of the picture.

As always in Kenneth Branagh's films, this one is well acted, well written and well directed.

Rated R for horrific images.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

gives us too much and not enough

4/10
Author: TheUnknown837-1 from United States
7 March 2009

When it comes to literature, Mary Shelley's Gothic novel Frankenstein is one of the more significant titles to appear. Not only is it memorable in the fact that it was written by a woman in a time when women were considered the lesser of the two sexes, but it also set up new standards for science-fiction and horror that were expanded even further with following plays and ultimately the 1931 James Whale film of the same name, which featured Boris Karloff as the mutinous, growling monster created from dead bodies fused with electricity. Most of the criticism of the 1931 film focuses on the fact that it is only very loosely faithful to Mary Shelley's original novel. This 1994 adaptation, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, is by far, much more adhering to the text, but that does not make it a better film. I didn't think the 1931 Frankenstein was a great film, but it was still twice the entertainment that Branagh's is.

The plot is the same one we're all familiar with. A young man (Kenneth Branagh) mad with the passion to create a living being in his own image recklessly instills life into a humanoid made from the bodies of dead men and creates a hapless, but unnaturally durable creature played uncharacteristically by Robert De Niro and before long, his mistake of playing God soon leads to chaos and people near to him fall victim and before long, he soon takes the responsibility of purging the creature under his own wing. But then there's the element that not all of us are familiar with. That the creature has a mind and a heart of its own and that it wants to meet its creator again, with some requests of its own.

I do appreciate director/star Branagh's will to stick with Mary Shelley's original novel, but what I did not appreciate was his failure at supplying us with an appreciable motion picture that ultimately turned out to be nothing more than pointless and forgettable.

Like Roger Ebert said in his television review of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Kenneth Branagh has a habit of going over the top with his movies and this is another example. There are many scenes in this movie that are way too explosive, way too loud, and way too graphic to satisfy us such as this rather bloody and fast-moving stillbirth scene early in the picture that did not serve any real purpose in the story than just to give us something to look at.

That's what this movie really is. Just something to look at. It's a good-looking movie. The cinematography is crystal-clear and beautiful, the set design and art direction is fabulous, the scenery is entrancing, it feels as if we were looking into an actual world far distant and different from our own. But what Mary Shelley's Frankenstein fails to give us is substance and story and development and in stead focuses on its visual impact, which again, goes way over the hill. In short, it gives us too much and not enough. And as a result, its two-hour running time causes it to overstay its welcome. There are scenes that go on for too long and were not necessary and there are scenes that go by too quickly, but were necessary. And with a movie like this, once the audience starts to lose interest, the look of the film doesn't amount to a hill of beans anymore.

Are there any positive aspects to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein? Yes, there are. And some of them are quite powerful. Number one, Robert De Niro was fantastic as Frankenstein's creature. De Niro does not rely on his grotesque-looking makeup to give the impression of a troubled creature, but instead embraces and surpasses it with his performance and there were some scenes where I actually felt a little moved because he was so great in the movie. The creature, like in the novel, is not the big lumbering green-skinned monster with electrodes emerging from its neck and mindlessly attacking people in rage. Here we have a sympathetic and tragic living being with feelings and emotions and a mind equal to that of a man's. De Niro gives us the most impressive Frankenstein's creature we have seen yet, even better than the Boris Karloff performance from the original. And that was a classic image. Unfortunately, De Niro is not seen enough and Branagh is seen too much and unfortunately Branagh is playing a very dull Victor Frankenstein.

That's another thing I might as well mention. Apart from De Niro, we have no interesting characters. Gene Siskel noted that Helena Bonham Carter's character as well as the others were treated mostly as props in the background and he was correct with his criticisms. I did not connect with any of the characters except for the creature and in a movie like this, that is imperative otherwise you're quickly losing interest.

Bottom line, this is a real shame. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a major missed opportunity. It's a well-acted, good-looking movie that I was still thoroughly bored with and unfortunately cannot suspend my disbelief and negative attitude toward the film to give it any recommendation except to those who want to see a faithful movie based on Mary Shelley's Gothic classic.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The schism of up-close and far-away

Author: (futures@exis.net) from Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.
23 November 2007

This one comes with caveats. One is NOT who stars: Robert DeNiro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm, and John Cleese. Wonderful. I failed to successfully read the original novel (when I was in 5th grade), and cannot assure you this is faithful to Shelley's work, however it is SO different than ALL the other Frankenstein movies, it "MUST" be more accurate – which is a plus – and THIS is where I place my caveat. There's a schism in the creation of this film – a huge one between up-close and distant. Incredible, slimy, gory, exciting detail was given to the characters, laboratories, machines, and other "frontal" objects, but the distant views – landscapes, snow, fire, explosions, water, storms, ships, icebergs… was left budget and designer hungry. I'm going out on a limb here: Branagh was the director. He is a theater man. He stars in, works on, and recreates epics intended for the stage more than the screen (Shakespeare, etc.). I think he sees and thinks as a theater man not a film man – with "special effects" needing only to be "symbolic" of their reality. If you can get past chunks of snow that look and behave like Styrofoam, then you'll enjoy this weird, huge tale full of doom, warnings, lessons, and Victorian Karma.

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