Frankenstein (1994) Movie Review

Frankenstein (1994) Poster

Frankenstein (1994)

1994 | R | Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance
123 minutes / 2h 03min

[ Movie Page: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994) ]
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Frankenstein Plot Synopsis:

In 1794, in the Arctic Sea, Captain Robert Walton is a man obsessed to reach the North Pole, pushing his crew to exhaustion. When his ship hits an iceberg, it is stranded in the ice. Out of the blue, Captain Walton and his men overhear a dreadful cry and they see a stranger coming to the ship. He introduces himself and Victor Frankenstein and he tells to the captain the story of his life since he was a little boy in Geneva. Victor is a brilliant student and in love with his stepsister Elizabeth, an orphan that was raised by his father Baron Frankenstein. In 1793, Victor moves to Ingolstadt to study at the university and he promises to get married to Elizabeth. At the university, Victor befriends Henry Clerval who becomes his best friend. Victor gets close to Professor Waldman and decides to create life to cheat death, but Waldman advises him that he should not try this experiment since the result would be an abomination. When Waldman dies, Victor steals his notes and tries to create life. He succeeds and gives life to a strong Creature, composed of parts of deceased persons. However he realizes that his experiment is a mistake and he abandons the Creature expecting that it will die alone. However the Creature survives and learns how to read and write, but he is a monster rejected by society and his own creator. The Creature decides to seek revenge from Victor by killing everyone he loves.

Frankenstein (1994) Review

Even if you have no idea who Mary Shelley is, you would without a doubt recognize the name of her novel. Only, you might not think of a book; instead, the name would, without a doubt, conjure up one single iconic image in your mind; Frankenstein. It’s the image of a monster. This is because of the true interest of the story, concerns the affairs of the creation, and not the creator. If Kenneth Branagh’s 1994 adaptation has one real saving grace, it’s that it understands this.

The film’s titular purpose is to stay true to the original text, and it does so with varying consistency. But at times its promise is also its downfall. The prologue/epilogue storyline that bookends the film feels totally unnecessary. And the mix of rich, poetic, dialogue straight from the novel, with lines like “What the hell is that!” makes for a strangely unbalanced watch. Indeed, that lack of balance can be found in almost every facet of the film. The style constantly flips between a gritty realism (the creature’s awakening interpreted at childbirth, complete with embryonic fluid, was a definite favorite scene) and a theatrical cheesiness (Elizabeth reading a letter aloud as she writes it, with the pen so clearly not touching the paper.) You’re never quite sure what type of film you’re watching.

Branagh himself plays Victor Frankenstein, Helena Bonham Carter as the love interest Elizabeth, and the legendary Robert DeNiro portrays the hideous creature. The cast holds their own well, despite the material not offering much. With the best moments lingering on DeNiro’s performance as a monster who knows he’s ugly. However, one of the films biggest issues is the camera’s unwillingness to let the actors do their jobs. Too often, an emotional scene is cut short by a distracting movement, and the film boasts more circle-pans than a Michael Bay flick, most of which serve no purpose at all. Overall, the cast is up to par, even if they never really exceed in any way.

The best and most entertaining aspect of the film are its visuals. Incredible set design, beautiful locations, and awesome pre-CGI props and robotics fill out this made-for-TV spectacle, with the make-up design really being the icing on the cake. The monster’s stitched-together face and body are incredibly convincing, and the transformation of the healing process is a joy to watch. Much of the gore, while usually believable, is never scary but rather uncomfortable. The film can be hard to watch, but it will never make you afraid in any way. The same applies to many of its over-the-top scenes of violence (an especially unmoving organ-removal comes to mind) which creates again, a feeling of total unbalance. You’ll never be sure whether you’re watching a gothic horror, a shiny romance, theater piece or slasher film.

In the end, Branagh takes the film in too many different directions. In an effort to achieve much, he ends up with very little. Instead of stylizing his film, he stumps it. It all makes for an extremely bumpy watch. One that beautiful staircases, wonderfully grotesque flesh, and even the pleading eyes of Robert DeNiro can’t save.

  • Frankenstein Rating Scores
  • Our Score: 6
  • Overall Score: 5.45
  • IMDB: 6.4
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 3.9

About Frankenstein 1994

Title: Frankenstein
Year: 1994
Runtime: 123 minutes
Type: Movie
Genre: Horror, Drama, Sci-Fi, Romance
Score: 3 / 5 stars
Avg. Rating: 2.72/5 stars from 46,901 users.
Total Avg. Votes: 46,901
MPAA Rating: R
Frankenstein Cast Starring: Ian Holm, Helena Bonham Carter, Kevin Hudson, Robert De Niro, Jim Carter, Robert Hines, Joanna Roth, Angus Wright, David Kennedy, Celia Imrie, Tom Hulce, Siobhan Redmond, Alex Lowe, Sue Long, Michael Gould, Sasha Hanau, Max Gold, Joseph England, Abigail Reynolds, Alfred Bell, Tommy Wright, Theresa Fresson, Richard Clifford, Paul Gregory, Mark Inman, George Asprey, Chris Hollis, Dudi Appleton, Hugh Bonneville, Robin Lloyd
Frankenstein Writers: Mary Shelley, Steph Lady, Frank Darabont
Frankenstein Director: Kenneth Branagh
Production: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Language: English
Country: USA, Japan, UK