Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm and John Cleese star in Branagh's acclaimed adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. True to the original, here is the story of a yo... more »ung doctor whose obsession with death leads him to create a life. But his "creature" crafted from the bodies of convicts and the brain of a brilliant scientist, is a hideous mockery of humanity. And when the creature realizes he will never be accepted by men, he seeks revenge on Dr. Frankenstein and his family. An inspired adaptation that's emotionally complex and truly terrifying.« less
"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."
A magnificent adaptation true to the vision of the novel
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 10/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a masterful motion picture. While it does take a few liberties with Shelley's classic novel, it does a wonderful job of capturing the essence of the original story, specifically the humanity of the creature. While a little over-the-top at times and surprisingly gory, this film forcefully echoes Shelley's philosophical, moral, and ethical questions, and by so doing redefines the creature in its original image. What I have always found to be the most crucial scenes in the story are here displayed in all of their troubling glory, and perhaps it is the heightened intellectual nature of this film that explains why a surprisingly large number of people find disappointment where I find stimulating triumph. There are enough horror-laden scenes to capture the attention of the general horror lover, but the real substance of this story, for those who prefer their monster to serve as a complicated, amoral representation of man himself, is ambrosia for those who are more fascinated by the questions Frankenstein raises than by the horrors he unleashes.The inspiration for young Victor Frankenstein's obsession with conquering death is delineated pretty clearly, given its most intense emotional charge by the death of his doting mother while giving birth to his little brother. His time at university is a little rushed, however, strangely incorporating the influence of a mentor whose work Victor vows to complete; where the older doctor halted his studies out of fear, Victor will push over the brink without hesitation. Victor's lab is a bit overdone, featuring all manner of miscellaneous gizmos, vials, and wossnames that look impressive with blue bolts of electricity (not generated by lightning, by the way) pulsing through them. The monster, as we first meet him, is less than impressive, and a prolonged scene of Victor water-wrestling a guy wearing a patently fake body suit inserts a little unfortunate levity into what should be a most serious scene. Victor's reaction to his creation is probably the weakest spot in an otherwise powerful film, as his sudden repudiation of everything he has ever worked for rings patently false.It is with the entrance of the monster, however, that this film truly begins to shine. Mary Shelley's monster is not evil, nor is he a monster in the stereotypical sense by which he has come to be viewed by modern audiences. He is most definitely a victim and a creature deserving of much sympathy. Abandoned by his creator, his first interaction with mankind finds him fleeing a mob intent on hurting him for no reason apart from his ugliness. He takes shelter in a pigsty adjoined to a simple house in the country, and through a crack in the wall he not only learns to read and write, he gets to experience vicariously the joys and travails of family life. He becomes a guardian angel of sorts, secretly helping the family survive and prosper. At Christmas, in a truly touching scene, he finds a gift the family has left outside for their secret helper. One day, he gets a chance to actually interact with the blind old man of the house, sitting and conversing with another human for the first time in his wretched life, but all too quickly the family he had come to think of as his own, chases him away with blows and curses. If your heart does not break at the sight of the creature sobbing in the forest after this ultimate betrayal by mankind, you are the true monster. This whole scene is absolutely critical in terms of explaining who the monster is and why he does what he goes on to do, yet most film adaptations skip this scene entirely. Only now does the creature vow to seek revenge on the creator who abandoned him; only now has this ultimate victim become a monster in the form of amoral man.The rest of the film is handled quite well, and Helena Bonham Carter is simply wonderful in her role as Victor's significant other. The ending goes beyond the scope of the original novel, and it does so in a strikingly grisly way, but the overall effect of this film is true to Shelley's original vision. Robert De Niro gives a particularly compelling performance as Frankenstein's monster, the look and feel of the late eighteenth-century setting is spot on, and the musical soundtrack complements the plot extraordinarily well. While I would prefer to see a movie strictly faithful to Shelley's novel, this exemplary albeit somewhat effusive adaptation hits the core messages of the story dead on and stands, in my opinion, as a truly impressive cinematic accomplishment."
Outstanding Version Of The Immortal Tale
Stephen B. O'Blenis | Nova Scotia, Canada | 06/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Both one of the most horror-oriented and one of the most thought-provoking versions of the often-filmed tale, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" brings together a great cast - spearheaded by Robert DeNiro as the Monster and Kenneth Brannagh as Victor Von Frankenstein - for a big, epic production. It features stunning visual imagery and grand atmosphere, and some truly haunting quotes from the Monster. The Monster is perhaps the best developed here of all his screen appearances, a brilliant and sensitive soul being consumed by the rage and darkness inside his artificial being. Rarely has the picture of a monster's brutality being shaped by the world it's found itself thrust into been handled so brilliantly, and the overall attributes of the creature this brutality grows in - superhuman strength, a slowly emerging genius intellect, powerful emotions the creature has never had the chance to learn to control (having been 'born' fully grown), unnatural resistance to injury and heightened endurance, etc. - makes for a frightening force. Victor Von Frankenstein's portrayal is not one of a man who conciously chose to ignore the moral considerations and responsibilities of what he's doing, but a man upon whom such concerns simply never dawned for a second, until he's face to face with the consequences of his actions and it's too late for second thoughts. This has been said of the Frankenstein tale time and time again, but it continues to hold up: this story gets more eerily relevant to the modern world with each passing year.
It's among the career highlights for everyone involved, and with not only heavyweights DeNiro and Brannagh onboard but also such excellent talent as Helena Bonham Carter, John Cleese (in a rare non-comedic role), Francis Ford Coppola and Frank Darabont (director of "The Green Mile" and "Buried Alive", among others), that's saying a lot. Excellnt movie; one of 1994's best"
Good literature put to terrible use
S. Culp | Valencia, CA United States | 01/10/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This film was....not good. Essentially, it came across to me as I watched it that Branagh had shanghaied Mary Shelley's literary classic and mangled it into something that would, for lack of a better summary, allow him to strip off his shirt and run around glistening with goo for no reason (and several minutes of my life I'll never get back). This is only one example of the gross indignities to which Branagh, in an attempt, apparently, to prove that he could have done a better job writing Frankenstein than Frankenstein's author did, subjected the macabre classic. He showed complete disrespect not only for the tone and overlaying themes of Shelley's carefully crafted masterwork, but even for the basic FACTUAL CONTENT of the novel he so diligently cashes in upon. (Plague? Hello?)Just read the book, people--live a little, think a little, and for the love of god don't use this to cheat on any papers, because it's pretty much the opposite of anything you'd actually find in the book. P.S. I put one star for this review because Amazon made me. I would have preferred zero."
Faithful and frightening
Almost Home | undisclosed | 10/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Frankenstein is one of my all time favorite novels. Everytime I see it in the bookstore, I feel compelled to buy it again. I currently own more than half a dozen copies. This film version is very faithful to the original story. That is what makes this version so good. The tale itself is masterfully told, being equally disturbing, terrifying, and heartbreaking. This adaptation is passionately told, and worthy of having the name of the great Mary Shelley in the title."