on May 19, 2004
"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" is an incredibly melodramatic adaptation of the book that takes huge liberties with the plot, but I still find it thoroughly entertaining. The movie is perfectly cast, and I think that the embellishments that Kenneth Branagh takes with the story only make the film more enjoyable. Even though I doubt that Dr. Frankenstein ran around without a shirt on as much as Branagh does in the film, most women will probably find it quite enjoyable. Robert DeNiro is amaing in his role of "the creature," and Helena Bonham Carter gives a great performance as Elizabeth. If you're the type of person who detests it when filmmakers stray too far from the text of the book they're adapting, then this film probably isn't for you. If you're a bit more open-minded and are just looking for an entertaining movie to watch, this is a perfect film to add to your collection.
on April 12, 2004
It's too easy to think of "Frankenstein" as a monster movie, or maybe a Victorian period piece. It is not. It is about people with skill beyond the wisdom to use that skill. It is about manipulating life, without regard to what happens when the experiment is done. To anyone in twenty-first century biotech, it is a prediction and a warning.
It's also a very good movie. Branagh and DeNiro carry the two lead roles as if they were born (or built) into them. The lab scenes were exceptional, including one of the movie's strongest moments. That was when Frankenstein's creation was dumped, in an amniotic flood, onto Branagh and the lab floor. The doctor catching that wet and feeble adult form, ejected from a metal womb, conveyed just how horribly he had perverted the normal process of birth. The scene is raw and physical. I wish I had words to describe it.
Branagh made no effort to modernize the story or its technology. Any modernization would have looked dated in just a few years, and would have lost its transitory meaning. By keeping the Victorian look and speech, he cut the story loose from any one time. Any future movie of Shelley's prescient work will be judged by this standard.
on July 13, 2003
I can't remember when I first saw a Frankenstein film, but I knew the basic story at a very early age. I used to take an ink pen, and draw scars on my wrists, pretending to be the unamed Monster from the film. I read the Classics Illustrated comic book AND the entire text of the original novel before I was 10, and over the years saw many, many adaptations of the story. Most films miss the point of the novel, and make another point instead. To me, the main point of the novel was NOT that humans shouldn't meddle in the affairs of gods. Rather, the point is that we are all shaped, for better or worse, by our interactions with each other. This is illustrated in the manner in which the unfortunate monster, at first clumsy and naive, is rejected by his own maker. Cast alone into the world, he attempts to befriend a poor family, and makes some headway so long as he remains unseen by them. His appearance always invokes a reaction of fear, so that as he matures, he loses his clumsiness and naive nature, and begins to hate the human race, simply because everyone treats him so hatefully. He attempts to convince his maker to make a companion like himself, one who will not reject him, and when this plan falls through, he seeks the ultimate revenge against his maker, telling him 'I will be with you on your wedding night'.For the most part, this film is nearer to the original novel than any I've ever seen. There are a couple of departures, most notably the unfortunate attempt by Victor to revive his dead wife, using the same methods used to create the monster. These minor detours don't change the direction of the story, and don't amount to more than a few minutes, and the film then continues and ends as the novel did.I enjoyed the performances of Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter, Robert DeNiro, and John Cleese (in a very straight role). DeNiro was very convincing as the creature who, although not evil when first created, became a monster because of the inhumane treatment he suffered at the hands of those who called themselves 'human'. This is the nearest I've ever seen to a true version of the novel. Overall, not quite perfect, but very, very good.Ron
on June 10, 2003
If you rent or buy this movie expecting to see a tall, big, green ugly monster with bolts on the side of his head that staggers around, then you might be disappointed. This is the real version of Frankenstien, which is based on the novel by Mary Shelley. I realize how hard it is to make a movie completely accurate to a book, but this film covers the crucial moments of the story while still keeping a good horror movie flavor intact.
What made this movie were the scenes with Frankenstein's monster lurking in the shadows of society, waiting for the right time to try to take a chance on being accepted despite who or what he is. We get to see the progression of an ugly and relatively innocent "creation" to the "fiend" he becomes when people show hatred towards him. The monster's rejection from civilization is one of the main premises of the story, making him the "monster" that he is, and this element of the tale is often left unexplained in other versions of Frankenstein (including the very popular 30s version).
I also thought the background of this movie and scenery where accurate for this film's story.The crew aboard the cold icy seas looking for a chance at a better existence. The confronation between Frankenstein and his creation in an cold, icy setting. Frankenstein's monster lurking in a forest, watching a typicial family in an attempt to comprehend how people and society operate. These settings highlight the dreariness and isolation that both Frankenstein and his creation feel.
In my opinion, this is one of the best horror movies out there. This movie deals with the wrongs that are created when one tries to "correct" a problem with technology. Kenneth Branaugh and Robert De Niro do excellent jobs in this depiction of the Frankenstein story. An overall very good horror movie that I recommend for anyone.
on February 1, 2003
Once again, Mr. Copolla has creted another ingenious reproduction of a classic. Unlike the original Dracula & Frankenstein, these productions are more believable, as far as mannerisms, vestmentry, & situations are concerned. As usual, it is a rollercoaster of emotional stimulation. As with DRACULA, there are incredible angles & panoramas, with amazing action-scenes. It is very accurate to the book, & even starts out with the actual introduction thereof.
Everything is much more down to earth, much "rawer" than the more watered-down versions of previous presentations, with the exception of the original Boris Karloff spectacular. that is. This is bacause, it sticks closer to the book, as if Mary Shelley herself were producing.
When I witness the conviction & die-hard dedication of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, with his enormous visions for the progression of science, & his logical dismissal of krysto-babble, I cannot help but to admire the man. Though all of his frightened & intellectually constipated "colleagues" absurdly "warn" him of the "abominations" of his wonderous dreams & experimentaions, he drives ever-forward, at fever pitches, to accomplish that which just may be the ultimate proof that it is finally Man who is the brain of god, through his modifications of Nature.
Inevitably, as the movie progressed, I found Myself hearing echoings of Dr. LaVey's voice speaking of Artificial Human Companions, & how the future shall be inundated with them, as the subhuman populace declines ----- thank SATAN! They have just enough intelligence to serve & entertain without complaint or self-righteous moralistic rhetoric. We certainly would not want a repetition of what we see in horror movies, of creations becoming too smart & conquoring the world.
As for re-animation, which indeed IS possible, either by Necromancy &/or Future Science, much care must be taken in the formative periods. For example, Victor Frankentein's creation was struck very forcefully upon the cranium when he was barely concious ----- a very bad mistake. That brilliant mind was damaged because of it, inasfar as fascillitating abrupt violent tendencies as an uncontrolled impulse, rather than stablized rationale. Without such neuro-trauma, the creation may have been very well more amiable & adaptable.
As far as the scars are concerned, if the cosmetic appearance becomes such an issue, laser treatemnts can be administered, which erases the scarring tissue.
Another point in the movie which should be addressed, is the fact that Dr. Frankenstein underwent three major emotional traumas in the sudden losses of his mother, a nephew, & finally, his beloved wife. When he pleaded to "God" with all of his heart, mind, & soul, there was no response whatsoever. So, in true Satanic form, he took matters into his own omnipotent hands, & re-animated his beloved wife back to life. The other two could not be returned, unfortunately, for the procedure had not yet been perfected. But they were not a total loss. for they served as the daemonseeds of divinity, & as cathartic agents, to purify the Mind from the ridiculous limits imposed by inferior xian morales, which are meant to keep the lower man in line, NOT the Higher, He who MAKES the rules, rather than blindly following, as in BLINDLIGHT. When his eyes were at last opened, he became relentless in his persuits ----- & to proven success.
Most unfortunate, however, at the time there were not the cosmetic techniques to fully restore & rebeautify his bride, so she self-destructed.
The single most valuable lesson to be learned from Dr. Frankenstein's efforts & experiments, is to learn from his mistakes, & take great care not to repeat them, in order to save yourself from the hardship he underwent.
The character of Dr. Victor Frankenstein is certainly one to be admired, as His heart burned fiercely with the Black Flames of Satan. He is an archetype representative of the iconoclast & the rebel, an intellectual renegade, to be always remembered.
on October 19, 2002
When Kenneth Branagh made "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" he had already established himself as a competent director within the horror/suspense genre with his stylish thriller "Dead Again". With "Frankenstein" he went one step further, creating a wild and bloody film that made the critics and the audience somewhat uncomfortable. But while it is true that the film is intensely dramatic and theatrical, people forget that that is the very point. This is a gothic horror story, and just as with "Dead Again", Branagh made a film that is very much steeped in its own genre. Wild camera-moves, operatic music and over-the-top acting is part of the charm of the piece, and if one cannot accept that, then one should look for other forms of entertainment.
That being said the film could still have been better. While the acting, the setting, the music and the cinematography is great, the script is just too rushed. The film moves very quickly and never gives you time to take a breather. You never get close to the characters and therefore the dramatic impact when something horrible happens to them is smaller. A few extra scenes showing us more character developement would have benefitted the film, I think. But overall, the main point of a film like this is to scare the hell out of people. And although Branagh manages to bring forth the central points of Shelley's novel, it is the horror in which he excels. A good scare.
on June 29, 2002
Maybe I have deplorable tastes, but I liked Branagh's version of "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." In fact, I watched it twice in a row just to make sure. Yep, despite the generally negative critical reviews of this film, I like this version of Shelley's immortal classic a lot.
What sold me on "Frankenstein" was the relative faithfulness to the spirit of the book. (I say relative, because bringing a novel to the screen involves some necessary alteration. The two media are different.)
Shelley's hastily-written tale pits Man and Science against God and Nature. Surprise, surprise, Man loses. Branagh is believable as the obsessed and arrogant Frankenstein who stops at nothing, risks everything to beat Death. Robert DiNiro is absolutely the most true Frankenstein's monster ever depicted on screen.
The scene where Frankenstein brings the monster to life is thrilling. The set looks right, the scheme of reanimation is brilliant. It's my favorite scene in the film.
There is a lot that is excessive and frankly over the top in the film, but to me that added to the Nineteenth Century feel and pacing. Romantic literature can be huge--because Romanticism exaggerates and dramatizes the heroic and tragic. This film captures that sensibility.
If you look at any of the other attempts to film Shelley's novel, you might agree with me that they don't come close to doing justice to the novel (for example, the old black and white film, which is not one of my favorites, and the more recent flop "The Bride".) This version comes very close, perhaps as close as a film can come to Shelley's masterpiece.
on October 29, 2000
I have to wonder when I read reviews of this film stating with a straight face that it bears no resemblance to the book. From its beginnings with the sea captain discovering Victor Frankenstein in the arctic--which was the original framing device for Mary Shelley's novel, just as it is in the film--to the climactic confrontation between Frankenstein and his creature in the same frigid North, this is the most faithful adaptation of Shelley's novel that has ever been made. The only one that even comes close is TNT's adaptation starring Randy Quaid as the Creature, made the year before this one. Kenneth Branagh as Victor Frankenstein. and Robert DeNiro as the Creature are the anchors of this film. It's good to finally see a film adaptation that remembers that the creature had the power of speech in the book, and did not grunt in monosyllables the way Karloff's monster does in Bride of Frankenstein. On the down side, Branagh does take his shirt off a bit too much in the film, and the reanimation of Elizabeth is pointless and gory. But the central theme of Victor's egocentric quest to defy death is here, as well as the metaphor of the father-child relationship between the scientist and his creation. People not familiar with the novel need to realize that part of the point of this story was that the Creature was not evil--he was made bitter and hateful by his rejection at the hands of his creator and most of the other humans he encountered. Here, as in the Shelley novel, the Creature is actually far more noble at heart than most of the more ostensibly "human" characters.
As far as fidelity to the book--within the reasonable limitations of a bigbudget Hollywood film--this is practically the only Frankenstein film that exists for me.
As far as fun and pathos, I do still highly recommend the Karloff films, particularly "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein".
on February 1, 2003
Kenneth Branagh takes no prisoners in this very intense and moving interpretation of the Frankenstein story. This is not a film for the faint of heart and is not a traditional horror movie. Robert Deniro's performance as the monster is brilliant. True to Mery Shelley's original concept, Director Branagh and Deniro have created a truly tragic creature here that's only a monster on the surface. Underneath, there's a thinking, feeling being who just wants to be accepted and loved. He makes every attempt to find his place among humanity, including offering to disappear forever if only his creator will build him a female companion. When all the creature's attempts and pleas are scorned, he vows revenge on the one who created him and doomed him to such a miserable existence. Many viewers will find this movie too gory and sad, but I thoroughly enjoyed the intensity of Branagh's direction. This is a movie everyone should at least once. Well done Mr. Branagh
on August 24, 2002
Unlike every other Frankenstein movie that has the monster as an illiterate brute, this movie actually follows the original book somewhat closely with a literate, well spoken monster. Great acting by Branagh, and beautifully and sensitively filmed. Still, it doesn't quite live up to the original book, which is sad, becuase there was no reason (in my opinion) to take some of the creative liberties they took with this one (and this is why I give it four stars). OVerall, the story and the plot still hold together quite well in this one, and the performances from all concerned are strong and sensitive to the role.
Perhaps some day we'll get a real version of the original, and then the world will finally know just what Mary Shelley actually wrote.
If you haven't read the book, you must. And then you will know how completely off the mark every other Frankenstein movie out there is.