STARRING: Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm

1994, 128 Minutes, Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Is Frankenstein science fiction or is it horror?

Horror fans would like to claim it as their own, but many science fiction commentators (including Brian Aldiss) credit this early nineteenth century novel as being one of the first (if not the first) science fiction novels.

Without getting into an argument here about what constitutes science fiction and what doesn't, the fact remains that the plot device of man creating artificial life is one employed in many films (take the Replicants in Blade Runner for example) and books usually regarded as science fiction.

With that out of the way, let's get on with the review: Brannagh's version of this old and familiar tale dispenses with many of the old clichés. The monster doesn't have an enormous bolt that keeps his head attached to his body like Boris Karloff did in those old black & white movies we all know from late night TV showings. In fact, if ever anybody were to create a person by stitching him together from other people's body parts, then this is what it would look like.

But while Brannagh can dispatch with many clichés, his film is still victim to them. One cannot really watch the film without remembering Mel Brooks' excellent Young Frankenstein satire and thus it is at times difficult to take the film truly serious. However, the film takes itself very seriously. There are some pretty bizarre moments in the film (Brannagh dancing with the resurrected-from-the-dead Helena Bonham Carter who is, excuse the pun, as dead as ever) that will strike as either being suitably grisly or just plain silly. I vacillated between the two emotions throughout the movie.

To this day I still cannot really say whether I actually liked this movie. It has its moments, but ultimately the film drags on for too long and one really cannot get visions of Young Frankenstein out of one's mind.



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