FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND, 1990
Starring: John Hurt, Raul Julia, Nick Brimble, Jason Patric and Bridget Fonda
A scientist is working on the ultimate weapon, a death ray which seems to have a side effect on not only the weather but on the space time continuum itself. Soon the scientist finds himself transported back to 1817 where he meets Mary Shelly and Victor Frankenstein.
The goal of ‘Frankenstein Unbound’ seems to have been to take all the elements of Science Fiction and put them all into one film. Elements such as Frankenstein’s monster, time travel, artificial intelligence, a death ray, a far future frozen in an ice age and John Hurt are all elements we have seen throughout various Science Fiction media.
Does it work? At times it seems to at other times plot gets a bit weighed down in making logical jumps that just don’t seem to ring true and/or getting bogged down in trying to promote a message. Now promoting a message is fine but it shouldn’t get be right up there in your face, messages are better when they are subtle and almost sub-consciously spoken/seen.
The main sci-fi element; Frankenstein’s monster, is as old as Science Fiction itself and has been done to death almost as much as Vampires. All this means is that the monster was in desperate need of rejuvenation. Whilst this film isn’t a massive reinvention of the theme it is a very modern take on it. The message is still the same as it has been since Mary Shelley’s day; the path to hell is paved with good intentions.
A team of scientists in the year 2031 are trying to build the ultimate weapon, a weapon so destructive that no one would ever dare use it and therefore will end war. This is the first instance in which I question the plot, one; surely that is what we have tried with Nuclear weapons and two; in what universe do a group of super intelligent scientists get together and go “You know what I think would end war? A death ray.” However it serves the lesson.
Ultimately the weapon goes bad and starts ruining the weather, creating a pretty cool looking cloud, which turns out to be a rip in the space/time continuum. Doctor Joe Buchanan (John Hurt) and his artificial intelligent car (voiced by Terri Treas) are transported by the rip to 1817 Switzerland where he first meets Victor Frankenstein (Raul Julia) and later meets Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Bridget Fonda) who will be remembered as Mary Shelley.
Whilst the idea the twist in this retelling of Frankenstein is different to any others that have preceded it; the idea being that Frankenstein was actually real and Mary Shelley just wrote a version of his story, it just grates with me. It just doesn’t feel right, I never fully enjoy the idea that a classical work is shown to have actually happened and been written about as a fiction and for some reason main stream history seems to forget that it actually happened. Much like in the 2002 version of the Time Machine when the book is mentioned in the film, creating this fictional paradox where for some reason a novel exists of events that are going to happen. But the other reason is easier to explain, it’s a tad bit offensive, the idea suggests that the author, in this case Mary Shelley, wasn’t creative enough to have come up with the idea and so just wrote about current events as if they were a fiction.
John Hurt is always good in anything and I haven’t really ever understood why he doesn’t/didn’t get more non-science fiction roles. I mean his portrayal as the future Prometheus (Considering Frankenstein was the modern Prometheus) is so believable it’s almost as good as his portrayal of Winston Smith in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
Raul Julia is perfect for Victor Frankenstein and again as always is just great, ditto for Bridget Fonda as Mary Shelley. Nick Brimble who portrays the monster is great at getting the balance between over doing the monster and thus making it farcical or under doing it and making it just seem like a man wearing a lot of scar tissue make up.
At the end of the day this is a fairly enjoyable film, it is one of those where it’s best not to question it, just relax, turn down your brain and enjoy the film. Or alternatively go out and read the book which was written by Brian Aldiss. Or even better read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
CLICK the LINKS and EXPLORE