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.

Movie Review: Alien (1979)

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As October is coming to a close, so does “The Month of Spooks”. That’s right, this will be the final review for “The Month of Spooks” and that is why I started it in such a cliché way. And I thought therefore that the final review would be for one of the first horror movies I ever saw and hell, it’s even one of the first that I ever enjoyed. But do I still like it after a few years of not seeing it. So we are ending the series of horror reviews in a pretty big way.

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big hand to… “Alien”.

So in the movie “Alien” we follow the crew of a giant cargo ship called the Nostromo as they receive a distress call from a seemingly unexplored planet. But after their search for survivors come up with jack shit… sort of. When they return to the ship and plan to leave they learn that some strange biological life form has come aboard and wants to murder them all. So it’s a fight for survival as they try to get home and make sure to not be killed by this Alien. The concept is pretty simple, it’s kind of like “Jaws” but with a scary fucking space alien in a close quarters environment instead of a shark in the ocean. And how is it executed? Saying that it was done well would such an understatement. The story not only is presented in a well told way, but is is also suspenseful and scary. The reason this all works so well is that they keep it very confined and doesn’t stretch it out too far into something that it isn’t. I also like how it explores a very realistic science fiction universe. And the entire way the suspense is real and the scary bits are least said terrifying. Great job, plot of “Alien”!

Since this basically is a monster movie, you expect that the majority of the characters will die at some point. The interesting part is though that you don’t want them to bite the dust in this movie. Yeah, these characters aren’t just tasty snacks for the alien in the movie, but they all feel like actual people who you care about, even if they at times are dicks. And the acting is really good in the movie, and it’s great to see that there are so many well known actors here. Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt… we got a great selection of people here. And they all perfectly nail it in the movie!

The score for the movie is about as tense as the story. Yes, I think it’s pretty damn great. It got a lot of subtle tracks which sort of just lie in the background as ambient noise, but then we also got a lot of the tense and action-y tracks which made my heart race. And who do we have to thank for all of this? The combined forces of Jerry Goldsmith and Lionel Newman, that’s who!

This movie is almost 40 years old and the visual effects still hold up brilliantly. And the overall directing is pretty damn fantastic as well, all perfectly orchestrated by Ridley Scott who despite some failures, is one of the greatest directors ever. And of course we have to give some awkward and creeped out love to H.R. Giger who designed the alien in the movie, it is scary and will live on forever as one of the coolest monsters ever. And the sets all look fantastic and oh my god, everything in the technical department is just amazing in this movie! I’m sorry, I can’t help but praise the praise-worthy stuff in this movie, it’s just great in that sense.

This movie has gotten some pretty great reception over the years. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 97% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 stars and has it on his “Great Movies” list. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,5/10 and is ranked #52 on the “Top 250” list. The movie also won 1 Oscar in the category of Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for 1 additional Oscar in the category of Best set decoration. 

Guys, “Alien” is one of the first horror movies I remember seeing and actually enjoying. And that memory is now justified with a tense, scary, well acted, perfectly directed movie that also has great sets, visual effects and music. Time for my final score. *Hiss*. My final score for “Alien” is a 9,88/10. It most certainly, without a single doubt gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“Alien” has now been reviewed.

In Space, no one can hear you scream…

Movie Review: Lord of War (2005)

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I have a weird interest in illegal business practices. And before you call every safety organization on me, I don’t mean it like that. I don’t have an interest in conducting illegal business, but I am really interested in reading about it. Have I calmed your tits now? Excellent! But these kinds of illegal businesses can range from drugs to murder, but today we are taking a look at something less… mainstream, in lack of a better word. Of course it occurs a lot in our big world, but not as many people look into it as the other ones I mentioned.

Ladies and gentlemen, load your guns, aim and fire, because this is “Lord of War”!

This movie is about illegal arms-trader Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) and his rise to become the best at his craft. And with him (for the most part) is his brother Vitaly (Jared Leto). But it isn’t easy supplying guns for our “heroes” as they have problems with a rivaling arms-dealer (Ian Holm) and a tenacious Interpol agent (Ethan Hawke). And that is interesting in itself of course, but the plot gets even more interesting since Yuri through the plot starts questioning the morality of his work more and more. And to be completely honest, I find the plot really interesting and engaging. There wasn’t one minute of the plot that wasn’t interesting to me. It was so well-written and suspenseful that I just didn’t find anything uninteresting in it.

The characters were all really well-written and never felt out of place or even unrealistic. And I am so happy to see Nicolas Cage give a really good performance. Now to be fair, I have for the most part only seen over-the-top performances from him and the only legitimately good I have seen from him prior to this was “Joe” where he was amazing. But I know he got it in him to be great and here he proved it. Jared Leto was also great in the movie as his brother. And Ethan Hawke as Interpol agent Jack Valentine was also really good.

The score for the movie was done by Anthony Pinto and was in my opinion really good. There was a lot of use of piano and acoustic guitar which helped build a lot of suspense and emotion which is exactly what was needed. The music was also part of helping hold up the thought-provoking plot and characters by having that type of vibe (if that makes any sense).

The movie was both written and directed by Andrew Niccol and he shows that he got a knack for both. The writing (Both plot and dialogue) is excellent and the camera work/direction of the movie is really good. The movie is visually impressive, especially during the movie’s amazing opening credits which follows the life of a single bullet, featuring the excellent song “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. Watch it here!

This was movie generally well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 62/100. Roger Ebert gave it a score of 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,6/10.

“Lord of War” got a well-written and thought-provoking plot, terrific performances, a great soundtrack/score, great direction/camera work and one of the best opening credit sequences I have ever seen. Time for my final score. Holy crap, Jeff… you’re actually on time for once. Envelope? Thank you! You can go now. My final score for “Lord of War” is a 9,82/10 which of course gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “Lord of War” is completed.

There’s something happening here, for what it is ain’t exactly clear…