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While there are differences from Mary Shelley's earth-shattering novel, this version is quite true to the author's original. Not only that, the portrayal of the "monster" as a sophisticated man is much more true to the creature portrayed in the book. This personage, portrayed by Robert DeNiro, is fully aware of who he is and that he has been betrayed by Victor Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh) who throws him out like yesterday's garbage. The monster begins to resent the lives that others have and vows revenge on his creator. There are terrifying scenes of murder and mayhem. But the issue that is so poignant is whether such a creature has a soul; whether something composed of the parts of other humans can see eternity. This is one of the most philosophical portrayals of 19th century ethics I have seen. Excellent sets and mood inducing music.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
that spoilers lie herein. Branagh's popular spin on the
classic work of Gothic literature may stick fairly close to the origins
of the story (certainly closer than the Karloff/Cushing adaptations)
but it stills throws in far too many changes for my liking; we get a
plague of cholera, Victor's mother dying in childbirth, Waldman getting
stabbed, Elizabeth returning to life I can understand why some of the
changes, especially the latter, were made, in order to add more drama
into what is a part-travelogue, part-letter driven narrative but
others serve no purpose I can think of. For instance, Clerval survives
the film, but to what effect? None that I can think of.
The film has had a large amount of money spent on it, and the costumes, scenery, make up, and effects are all quite wonderful, aided nicely by an effectively sweeping Gothic score. The problem with this movie, then, lies in the characters and performances of the characters in the film. Although the movie is packed with British thespians, only the two leading men contribute efforts of any worth. Branagh is good, yes, but we're used to him being excellent, so being only good is a letdown. De Niro is great and throws an unusual spin on the emotional character of the Creature; I don't think anyone else could have been quite as convincing as he is here, and the scenes of his "birth" are the most moving in the film. I especially like the handling of the creature and the blind hermit (played by Richard Briers), the best bit of the film, without a doubt, but still changes have been made to the original tale (where did the children come from?).
Other noted characters such as Cheri Lunghi and Ian Holm are so far in the background that they barely register as people, just moving puppets instead. Holm is OTT but even that is swept aside by the orchestra and the bombast of the production. Tom Hulce is particularly bad as laughing-boy Clerval, his character poorly-sketched and inane, a far cry from the imaginative lover of nature portrayed in Shelley's story. John Cleese and Robert Hardy have fun in very minor parts as university lecturers but that's about it. Oh, and then there's Helena Bonham Carter; I usually like this unusual actress, but she's quite terrible in her early role here, and totally unconvincing as happy-go-lucky Elizabeth. Far more effective is her unsettling appearance as the deformed Bride, a bad-taste addition to the book which transforms Victor from a misguided saviour of mankind to a cold and ruthless killer who thinks nothing of sawing his fiancee's head clean off in order to serve his own foul purposes. How could Branagh and co. make such a profound error of judgement in order to throw in a few more ghoulish shocks into their movie? Horrific, maybe, but totally out of character for the earnest scientist.
I actually preferred BRAM STOKER'S Dracula to this movie, as it contained more Gothic flavour and atmosphere than this somewhat lacklustre offering, watchable but far from memorable, a fact which is even more galling considering the calibre of those involved.
This is a pretty interesting film version of the story. In a roundabout
way, it's similar to the Universal Classics because The Monster or
Creature is created by Frankenstein and becomes abandoned and lonely
for "someone like him" - a bride - but that's about as far as the
similarities go. The Creature himself is more similar in looks to the
classic Hammer Horror "Frankenstein" with Christopher Lee than any of
the Universal Horror Classic 'Monsters' (Karloff, Chaney, Lugosi &
As far as the story goes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) has a good take on the tale but not nearly as good as Universal or Hammer Horror films. That's just my opinion. If you do not compare films (film companies) then you have a pretty darn good monster movie here that is worth a watch if you like this sorta film.
I got a chance to watch this movie about 2 years ago, but
unfortunately, just the second part of it. And finally i observed it
from the beginning to the end. For sure, i had no the same fear,
intense and suspense atmosphere like the first time, but it helped me
to understand the characters deeper.
It is a story about a man, whose is very talented from his childhood, and his parents have a great expectations regarding him, but suddenly his mother passes away, during giving a birth to his brother and from that moment he decides to make people live forever and to find the way to implement the resurrection of the corps. Finally his dream came true, but from that moment he had to pay for what he had done.
The atmosphere of the movie is dark, but extremely attractive. You can't take a look out of it. Soundtracks, the fast change of the shots, uptight ambiance are drawing you into. I felt a deep compassion to the Monster. Robert De Niro's performance is outstanding. In fact, Victor killed all his beloveds, by the hand of the Monster. He created him, but didn't put a soul in. Everyone who is next to him, had to pay for his mistake.
"Frankenstein" is an amazing movie and it is almost criminal how it was underrated.
Nothing like the book so why call it Mary Shelley's? Victor
Frankenstein is primarily a chemist and keeps the process of animating
a body secret. There are no dead body parts and there is no electricity
in the books. Rather it is suggestive that the body is created by
Victor and the animation process is a chemical process rather than
electrical process... although it does not say for certain how the
'monster' is constructed.
This film owes more to early Hollywood and Hammer than it does to Mary Shelley. Also my impression of Victor Frankenstein in the books is that he is an incredibly private person. The 'monster' is created by himself over a long period of time and in deep secrecy and after its creation Victor becomes even more withdrawn in himself. I felt that this film does not portray Victor in this light.
By all means keep the film's original title as Frankenstein as a homage to the films of old but to make arrogant claims that it resembles the book suggests to me that the director or the studio officials who decided to change the name to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein have not read the book but instead have relied on watching the earlier film versions of the story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Creature is arguably the single most recognized horror icon of the
20th Century, and I am referring specifically to the Karloff/James
Whale/Jack Pierce Creature. Various actors of both great and obscure
repute have assayed the role, but it belongs to Boris Karloff. This is
incontestable. Karloff's iconic and definitive performance as the
Creature is inextricably linked to the character itself throughout
My deal is that I really really like the Shelley novel, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein actually improves the closing chapters in a way that is unique, to my knowledge. It is remarkably faithful to the book most of the time. Frank Darabont shared a Saturn Award nomination for Best Writing with Steph Lady, who has only one other credit on IMDb. Patrick Doyle contributed a score that is by turns heroic, lighthearted, romantic, and chilling. It emphasizes the story with an amiable insistence that recalls the original music composed for the great silent films.
People rip on Kenneth Branagh for his apparent egotism. Victor Frankenstein is an huge egotist. How else to explain his obstinate belief that he alone can defeat Death? Victor sacrifices everything he once held dear at the altar of vainglorious willfulness. I feel that Branagh's feverish direction gives epic material an operatic flair.
The love story between Victor and Elizabeth is truly moving. Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter famously began a five-year romance during production that ended Branagh's marriage to Emma Thompson. Their infatuation is evident in the way Carter teases him playfully, and when Branagh gazes upon her rapturously. <<<<<<<<<< Start "SPOILER" >>>>>>>>>> IMO, the choice to have him revive Elizabeth and her to then take her own life is brilliant, and makes Darabont/Branagh's ending a complete inversion of Bride of Frankenstein's ending. Helena Bonham Carter's acting in these scenes is absolutely gut-wrenching. The ending so fried my circuits in the theater that I thought I was literally having an hallucination. It knocked me to the ground, kicked me, and then stuck a hot poker in my ear. I was scared and fascinated by what I was seeing THAT much. The film left me dazed, like after an excellent concert. <<<<<<<<<< End "SPOILER" >>>>>>>>>> That departure from the 1818 novel is what cinches Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as my favorite all-time adaptation, in spite of the flaws that I describe below.
Downers are the head-scratching miscasting of De Niro (who does a fine job, nonetheless), and the decision to make the makeup realistic and understated as opposed to grotesque and terrifying. Branagh literally made everything in the movie larger than life except the Creature itself, which is the opposite of Shelley. I still adore the film regardless, and the scene where the Creature lures William with the flute is etched in my memory.
"Elizabeth...say my name."
Not sure what was on Branagh's mind here, but casting De Nero as the monster was way off beam, and the make-up didn't really work. When you know the face of the young Don Corleoni us under that mask you are just waiting for the next smart remark. Thankfully he avoided the excessively philosophically thinking, eloquent and educated monster that was utterly incredible in the original book, but the one moment of reflection between him and Frankenstein in the ice-cave simply did not ring true. There was a poor understanding of the big screen. And some ridiculously comic moments that were too staged. See Bonham Carter running across the lawn to meet Frankie's horse, just makes you ask why he did not ride up to the house? Then after the monster has harvested the field of turnips, the camera pans to De Nero's face in - to let us all know who did it - just looks so pantomime and silly. But the worst thing is that Branagh seemed to use any excuse to get his shirt off. This was a six-pack too far.
Aside from Young Frankenstein (1974), I have never actually seen a
movie based on the titular doctor. I have never seen the 1931 Boris
Karloff version nor Andy Warhol's 1973 adaptation. In fact, I have
never even read the novel. Yet the mythos of the character is so
ingrained in our culture that the story is known by almost all. Dr.
Frankenstein, a gifted but brash scientist digs up an assemblage of
body parts and reanimates them to create a monster he regrets.
In this adaptation, The story is told by Dr. Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh) to Captain Walton (Aidan Quinn), a man looking to make a name for himself by reaching the North Pole. Frankenstein's major impetus for creating life after death stems from the death of his mother giving birth to his younger brother and his major love interest is his adopted sister Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter). My guess is family is important to him.
While in medical school he befriends a young medical student named Henry (Tom Hulce) and professor Waldman (John Cleese) with similar fascinations with "alternative medicine". Waldman warns Frankenstein not to venture further down the rabbit-hole but of course he does and nearly dies of exhaustion attempting to bring his experiments to reality. Once the monster (Robert De Niro) is brought to life, the doctor balks at his experiment and immediately regrets everything he has worked for. The monster however wonders away carrying with it the doctor's journal so naturally the only logical thing to do would be to just forget all about it.
Naturally, as with virtually all movies, the bad guy gets his just desserts and we all learn an important lesson on the folly of scientific exploration and achievement. You heard me, the folly of scientific exploration; because progress is an incredible evil that must be stopped or else risk unleashing horrible monsters that will inherit the earth. Its not like Frankenstein could have done a few things differently like have a protocol for destroying the monster then studying it to find where he went wrong. Or failing that he could have always locked the door to make sure his monster doesn't escape.
Not that anything really went wrong to begin with. The monster was capable of cognitive thought and motor skills, could speak, read, write and play the flute. It didn't perform "Puttin' On the Ritz" but had the song been around in the 1700's I bet he could sing it. Additionally, at the beginning of his second life, he was capable of kindness, mercy, and sympathy. The only bad thing about the monster was his ugly mug. For that reason the good doctor gave up on his project, lamented over what a terrible thing he has done and collapsed sobbing on his pillow like a girl who wasn't asked to the prom. Question: You made your creature out of random decaying body parts, did you expect it to look like Megan Fox? The rest of the story follows the monster who wonders around for a while before he begins to plot his revenge against the doctor with relentless flair. Frankenstein meanwhile gets caught up in period-piece melodrama complete with lavish sets, high society gatherings and Ian Holm. Eventually things turn tragic then just plain gory and at the end of the tale, Captain Walton turns his ship around so he may live to be brazen another day.
To be fair the main message of Frankenstein has been around for ages. The Matrix and Terminator imagine worlds where our hubris creates machines that take over the world. A much better (and underrated) adaptation of the story, Splice (2009) involves a similar creation who is begotten by two impertinent scientists who look to achieve practical purposes like curing disease.
Conquering death does have its practical purposes I guess but hypothesizing "in order to cure death we must create life," is like saying in order to stop war we need to build better weapons. Furthermore the psychology of the creature and the scientists involved are important factors in the decision making processes in Splice. Frankenstein leaves many of those nuances unexplored leaving you with a good looking movie that seems too frazzled to be impacting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Kenneth Branagh directs and co-stars in this 1994 horror film starring Robert De Niro, Helen Bonham Carter, Tom Hulce, Ian Holm, John Cleese and Aidan Quinn based on Mary Shelley's novel. This focuses on scientist, Victor Frankenstein (Branagh) who is determined to recreate life after he loses his mother. Soon, he uses parts of dead people and a criminal (De Niro) to make a living body and succeeds. Victor's dream becomes a nightmare and learns the consequences when his creature exacts revenge. Carter (Fight Club) plays Victor's beloved, Elizabeth, Hulce (Animal House) plays Victor's friend, Henry, Holm (Alien) plays Victor's father, Baron, Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda) plays Professor Waldman and Quinn (Benny & Joon) plays Captain Walton. This is a good adaptation of the horror classic featuring a good cast, great score & gruesome make-up effects I recommend.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beautiful sets, magnificent lighting and a cornucopia of some of the finest actors on the planet cannot save this film from a real dog of a script and appalling direction. People run here, there, and everywhere. Lighting flashes, Nooooooooooo! is yelled and yelled again. Its a dogs dinner of every trope in the business, with much emphasis on "significant" lines from shallowly developed characters and scenes that linger or hinge on some inconsequential point that may have seemed dramatic somewhere, sometime, but not in the final product. It's nearly two hours long, but feels like three and perhaps should have been cut to one. There is little to celebrate save one great shot worthy of note, Victor Frankenstein carrying the body of Elizabeth up a winding staircase of towering RKO magnificence whilst trailing a long blood red cape.
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