Thursday, 31 October 2013

Review: Danny Boyle's Frankenstein (BC as the Creature)

World of Blackout Film Review

Danny Boyle's Frankenstein Poster

National Theatre Live: Frankenstein (with Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature)*1
Cert: 15 / 125 mins / Dir. Danny Boyle

So as circumstances unfolded, I missed this version of the performance last year. Tonight's showing was the variant with Benedict Cumberbatch as the shambling, slurring and utterly charming Creature, and Jonny Lee Miller as his emotionally anesthetised creator. As you might suspect, BC gets the lion's share of the stage-time in this role, and has that and more of the work to do. This isn't to downplay JLM's performance at all, but as the story is told from the Creature's point of view, it's a necessity that we spend the most time with him.

Mrs Blackout was on my arm this evening, and so was my newbie-by-proxy. She spent the first fifteen minutes or so as I initially did, thinking 'well, this is all very avante garde; do we get a script or is it all expressionism?'. The unannounced, untitled, introductory birthing-sequence does feel longer than it is (even watching it again), yet it's absolutely essential for bonding with the Creature, and by the time of his departure from the farmstead you're glad you shared it with him. Cumberbatch is nothing short of magnificent here, and as much fun as he's having, it never gets hammy or overdone, even when delivering the humourous lines which the script is deftly hiding (although these moments are intentionally more broad when delivered by the other members of the cast). Extra props go to the ever-engaging Karl Johnson and Naomie Harris, whose roles seem almost criminally (if needfully) short.

Whether you're a Shelley aficionado, or have only caught fleeting glimspes of the Karloff-guise, this interpretation of the tale is worth your time, money and attention. Meticulously staged, and thought-provoking without beating you over the head with weighted morality, Frankenstein is definitely "theatre", but definitely worth a watch for even the most hardened cinephile.

Oh, and as it turned out, Mrs Blackout enjoyed it very much. So, all good.

Folks in the UK: The other half of the performance (with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature) is being shown at participating Cineworld, Vue, and Odeon cinemas. Independents are listed on the NT Live website. International screenings are being held, but you'll have to Google your area I'm afraid ;)

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Well, it's not really meant to be, I don't think.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
If you can see Frankenstein at a cinema, do, because it looks like there's no DVD imminent.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I probably will.

Will I watch it again?
If they show it again, I will watch it again.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
What's your favourite version of Frankenstein's monster?
Yes, I know it's an obvious question.
That's why I asked it.

*1 You can read my original 2012 review of the show (with Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature) here.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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