Movie Review: The Invisible Man (1933)

And our journey through the Universal Monsters blu-ray set continues!

Invisible ladies and invisible gentlemen… “The Invisible Man”!

Scientist Jack Griffin (Claude Rains) has managed to find a way to turn himself invisible. This has however come at the cost of his mind, turning him into a homicidal maniac. So now we have our little horror/sci-fi plot. And I kinda loved this story. It’s relatively simple, not aiming for any lofty mindfuckery. But what we do get is a fast-paced, eerie, and quite fun narrative of public paranoia and scientifically induced madness. And while there’s been overall fun factors in the previous Universal Monster movies we’ve covered, none have been as gleeful about it as this one. Seeing Griffin’s invisible rampage through England is an absolute riot, as it’s handled with a surprising amount of dark comedy. Yes, the idea of an invisible man running around and terrorizing people is really scary, but the way it’s done here manages to perfectly balance fear of the unknown with a big, mischievous grin. And I found the blend to be very entertaining.

The characters in this can seem a little bit cartoony at times, but I do find them to serve the narrative quite well. First we have Jack Griffin, mad scientist and resident invisible man. He’s a highly intelligent man, always being able to outsmart his opponents. Combine this with his science-induced madness, and you get a highly entertaining central protagonist and villain. And Claude Rains is fantastic in the role, giving us an electrifying performance. We also get performances from people like Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Una O’Connor, E.E. Clive, Holmes Herbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score in the movie was composed by Heinz Roemheld, and while it’s used very sporadically, the few times it shows up it is pretty good, composed in a way that perfectly fits the whole mad scientist thing.

Based on the 1897 science fiction novel by H.G. Wells, “The Invisible Man” was directed by James Whale (who also directed “Frankenstein”), and I think Whale has outdone himself here. His direction has a lot of energy to it, never letting a moment sit too long or get too dull, all without making anything feel rushed. And the editing in this is absolutely superb, this especially shown during a really fun and snappy montage where news of the invisible man spread to the people of the country. Speaking of imperceptible fellas, holy fucking shit, that effect is still impressive to this day. I do know HOW they achieved that effect, but it still feels a little mindblowing how they managed to achieve this in the early 1930s.

This movie has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 87/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.7/10.

So yeah, “The Invisible Man” is another great horror classic. It has a great story, pretty good characters, great performances, okay music, an amazing invisible man effect, and great directing/editing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Invisible Man” is a 9.77/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Invisible Man” is now completed.

I love the smell of mad science in the weekends.

2 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Invisible Man (1933)

  1. A classic! Admirable for pioneering that “effect” alone. There have been so many adaptations of The Invisible Man, but this one’s still the best.

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