I wasn’t sure why I never watched Frankenstein when it was released in the early 90s. I sure as hell know now. How I hated this film from first moment to last.
Victor Frankenstein (Kenneth Branagh) is your standard little-too-intense scientist. When his mother – who appears younger than he is – dies in childbirth, Frankenstein is left alone, with only his girlfriend Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) and the voices in his head for company. After some early experiments Frankenstein declares himself as something of a ‘master of lightning’, and thinking he can take his research no further in his simple Swiss home, he takes his wacky theories and ambitions to London to further develop both.
There he meets a similarly looney Dr (played by John Cleese) experimenting with the reanimation of dead tissue, and Henry Clerval (Tom Hulce), a fellow student who sees something in Frankenstein, even though he doesn’t quite understand it.
A short while later and Frankenstein manages to use the power provided by many electric eels to bring a pile of hastily arranged body parts to life. The resulting creation is dubbed ‘the monster’, and looks like a naked Robert De Niro covered in goo. For his part the scarily intense Dr Frankenstein spends an awful lot (read: way too much) of the film running around bare chested for no reason.
And with that a big, scarred, fat, creepy baby is born, and Frankenstein has proven that his insane theories are in fact correct.
Then in a baffling turn of events, Frankenstein almost immediately gives up on his creation as a regrettable mistake. Way to stick with your many years of research until the end Doc. But before he can formally discard with the unfortunate results, the monster escapes into the city and goes into hiding.
For his part Dr Frankenstein is plum tuckered out from all the shirtless posturing and intense thought. He can’t even be bothered chasing the monster that he just unleashed upon an unknowing society, so he simply slaps his hands together, mutters ‘that’s the end of that’, and settles down to life with Elizabeth who has conveniently just showed up on the doorstep.
All that ends well right?
Not really. While Vic and Liz play happy families, the monster embarks on a journey of discovery and learning. He picks up English in what seems like a week or two, learns that humans like turnips overnight and like any typical kid he resents the guy that gave him life. He decides to head back to London to confront Dr Frankenstein and new wife Elizabeth.
Horrendously boring, hopelessly bloated and dripping in unearned self-importance, Frankenstein is the ugly and wretched cousin of Bram Stoker’s Dracula which arrived at nearly the same time.
And please save me from the ‘moral dilemma’ of an ending. My only moral dilemma was deciding if I could wait another 30 interminable minutes before putting this film to death.
Final Rating – 4.5 / 10. Director Branagh aspires to crafting a timeless classic from a classic book,the result is pasty, bloodless and lifeless, just like Helena Bonham Carter…