Movie Review: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

The Month of Spooks continues! So what’s on the menu this time? An adaptation of a classic novel? This’ll be interesting.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”.

Late 18th century. We follow Victor Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh), a brilliant if somewhat unorthodox scientist. One night he manages to create life in the form of a creature (Robert De Niro) made up of many human parts. However the creature soon escapes and swears revenge on his creator. Basically it’s the classic “Frankenstein” story, but with a few smaller twists throughout. And while I love the ideas in “Frankenstein”, and even find some of the newer ideas intriguing, I thought the plot here was kind of bad. It manages to be slow and have some scenes feel slightly rushed at the same time. The tone is also a bit much, taking itself so fucking seriously that it almost becomes silly. I get it, “Frankenstein” is a serious story, but this is almost too serious for it’s own good. The plot here is just… not good.

The characters here are a bit bland. They try to have them be compelling and interesting, but that attempt kind of fails. Kenneth Branagh plays the titular scientist, and I am a little split on his performance. Because at times I think it’s pretty good, and at other times he is very theatrical and comes off as a bit hammy at times. Then we have Robert De Niro as the creature, a character that I actually found myself caring about a bit. A creation, abandoned by his creator, feared by society… that shit is compelling. And aside from like two moments, De Niro plays this very subtly and gives a really good performance. Then we have Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth, adopted sister and love interest of Victor Frankenstein. And while she isn’t the most interesting of characters, I thought Bonham Carter gave a good performance. Then we have Tom Hulce as Henry, friend and pseudo-assistant to Frankenstein. And he’s fine in the role. We also get Ian Holm as Frankenstein’s dad, and he doesn’t do much… but Holm is fine in the role. The performances here are fine.

The score for the movie was composed by Patrick Doyle and it’s actually pretty damn good. It’s big, loud, and kind of epic. My problem with it is that it doesn’t exactly fit with the movie. To have a score this great in combination with a movie so sloppy just feels off. Despite the overall quality of the score, it didn’t really help elevate any of the scenes.

This movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh and he did an okay job. His direction has a lot of flair to it, but feels a bit too big for the story it tries to tell. I have a quote from Frank Darabont (who wrote the script for the movie) that basically encapsulates what I mean, but I’m gonna put that at the end of the post so it doesn’t interfere with the semi-flow of it. Anyhow, can I give any praise here? Well, not gonna lie… this movie is visually arresting. The sets, the cinematography, the clothing… it all looks great. And the creature makeup on De Niro? It looks absolutely amazing! As for scares… none. I think I recognized a couple moments that were supposed to be scares, but didn’t come off as scary or creepy or even slightly eerie.

This movie hasn’t been the most well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 39% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. Roger Ebert  gave it 2,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,4/10. The movie was nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best Makeup. 

“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is not very good. It has a bad plot, meh characters, okay performances, great (if out of place) music, and meh directing. Time for my final score. *IT’S ALIVE!*. My final score for “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is a 5,54/10. While not the worst, I’d recommend skipping this one.

My review of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” is now completed.

As promised, the quote from Frank Darabont:

I’ve described Frankenstein as the best script I ever wrote and the worst movie I’ve ever seen. That’s how it’s different.

There’s a weird doppleganger effect when I watch the movie. It’s kind of like the movie I wrote, but not at all like the movie I wrote. It has no patience for subtlety. It has no patience for the quiet moments. It has no patience period. It’s big and loud and blunt and rephrased by the director at every possible turn.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)

  1. Pingback: The Month of Spooks 2017 Roundup | TheMarckoguy

  2. in my (movie) taste, i thought it was good/great like the 1931 version, the 1910 debut and the 1935 adaptation too.

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