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Posted October 1, 2010
It constantly surprises me that after the original excellent ''Frankenstein'' and ''Bride of Frankenstein'', any filmmaker would dream of remaking Frankenstein. Mel Brooks' ''Young Frankenstein'' was clearly the best. Compared to that skilled piece of 'hip hop,' which remixed the original elements into a story full of comedy and pathos, this turkey is a dodgy cover version sung by a drunk in a bar. As for the actors, most of the smaller parts seem to have been thrown to smug young types who have just graduated from drama school - with many bland youngsters given character roles they can only soil like excited puppies! The stars, on the other hand, seem to be cramming this acting job into their busy schedules of TV talk shows, book signings, or supermarket openings. Breathless and with one eye constantly on the finishing line, they seem to be having out-of-character experiences. The pace cracks on at a terrible speed in a desperate attempt to flag up some excitement, with Doctor Frankie running around like someone's switched his script with Jackie Chan's. We get quick rushed scenes of people running into rooms, bawling mediocre soundbites at each other, or parking their horses too far from the house so that they can run dramatically (yawn) across muddy lawns to finally exchange trite, anachronistic dialogue. This movie compounds its weaknesses by focusing on things it should skip, and skipping things it should focus on. For example, quite a lot of time is devoted to explaining how the monster was apparently taught to read by a herd of pigs! an aspect which only emphasizes the absurdity of the story. The issue of the Monster's literacy was handled much more deftly in earlier movies simply by being left a little vague. More important aspects of the storyline, however, are rendered fuzzy by Branagh's attempts to out-Shakespeare Shakespeare by cramming as many messy incidents into the story as possible with disastrous results for the movie's continuity: ''Geneva!'' the Monster exclaims at one point from his mountain top after some epic journey over the Alps, but of course they forget to give us the complementing view of the city below (Showing a model of 19th century Geneva was clearly outside the ego-targeted budget). The worst thing as with many modern films dabbling in the past is the incredibly anachronistic feeling, with people running around over-emoting as if they've just misplaced their Valium. As for the great love story - this is patently ridiculous as not only does Kenneth Branagh look like a shaggy dog as usual, but also the often lovely Helena Bonham-Carter does too. If they stood still for one minute, you get the feeling crows would nest in their 'romantically windswept' hair. As for Robert DeNiro, his main fault as the Monster is simply being too famous to be credible as the Monster. Unlike many of the cameo actors - friends of Kenneth who are just dropping by to don a costume, spout a few lines, and pick up a cheque - DeNiro sometimes has a look of jaded angst in his eyes that suggests he knew all along he had been tricked into making this Turkey that, Albatross-like, will hang around his neck for the rest of his life.
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