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So far so good...
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
Hardly Mary Shelley's and weakly detailed
Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of the original "Frankenstein" novel was undoubtedly a new approach compared to all others. The idea of moralities within reanimation and the prevention of death especially added to the depth and logic of the film. Unfortunately, the process of production had weakly supported this element and the plot itself was left loosely without proper composition.
Although the outline of the film was emotionally powerful, the cuts were amateur and the development of the story was unconvincing. Much of the acting, dialog, and sudden situations were too distracting towards the plot. For instance, it is obvious that it was intended for Victor Frankenstein's obsession towards reanimation and sustaining life was a result of his mother's death, but there was lack of evidence in any scene to actually support this thesis in a realistic manner. The same can be said for the creature, whose motivation and anger against society was extremely demonstrated in his violent actions without a tangible cause for his behavior.
Achieving compassion from the audience towards the characters is one of the most essential factors in storytelling. I can see Branagh's attempts for drawing sympathy for both Frankenstein and his creature, but their personalities as a result of a traumatic experience is greatly doubtful considering their ambiguous backgrounds, which was very frustrating to watch at my part. Under these circumstances, the whole concept of the film remains unbelievable and difficult to accept as a highly sophisticated story that it really is.
A distinctive method in storytelling is clearly needed to support a more convincing plot for this film. Adjusting the story by cutting out irrelevant scenes and expanding the story by adding specific details in the chain of events can be considered as a quick solution to this problem as well.
Despite my criticism towards the main characters, I did however find that Elizabeth's character was in fact convincing and logical. The scenes that involved her and Victor were highly emotional and dramatic. Perhaps these scenes were even the highest points of the film. They can be interpreted as highlights; the fact that each time Victor and Elizabeth meet the true state of the current situation seems to emerge, helping the viewers better understand the characters. Judging from this viewpoint, Elizabeth's character was the most crucial to this films coherence.
From my perspective, the development of the plot was awfully rushed to make a simple and yet profound point against the many issues brought up in this film. The heavy use of monologue is one of my proofs for this conclusion. I have many regrets, however I do believe there is a lesson in this story worth learning about. I strongly recommend this film in this sense, but not as a source of critical entertainment. I would suggest for all viewers to lower any expectations prior to watching this film.
Love Actually (2003)
Explain to me, why and how?
Films like this never seem to really strike me very well. I mean, what exactly was so "great" about it?
These series of "short stories" are all just too half-baked, and the people in it don't even have much relation to one another at all. The same goal is set, and they're up and running but unfortunately they're not in the same picture, and the stories themselves are just not specific and structured well enough. The same comment goes for "Magnolia" as well. Each little story had much potential into becoming something else. Some of the ideas were actually very heart warming, some you can relate to, and some that were just plain silly but very lovable to watch. With this great (or maybe just expensive) arrangement of cast members, they could not have lost. I just think they bit off more than they could chew...
Best in theaters and for Japanese viewers
I'm Japanese, and I really enjoyed this film. This is set in Tokyo, and the system works totally differently compared to all others around the world, so I wouldn't expect for any foreign countries to understand the concept of the film. Besides, it's originally in Japanese. What do you expect if the lines sound cheesy? The sense of humor between laguages are impossible to be translated directly and understood at the sametime, so you can't really tell if it's funny or not unless you watch it with real Japanese viewers. So if you're going to watch this film, don't think too much of the lines. Just go with the flow and enjoy what you see! That's how international films should be watched.