×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Frankenstein

Faithfully retelling a 19th century gothic novel means daring to be boring in places, but the peaks far outweigh those flat and arid stretches in this beautifully assembled Hallmark production: It should become the official home-study alternative for kids too lazy to read the book. Using the Halmi formula of small-name leads with more promotable titles and big-name cameos.

With:
The Creature - Luke Goss Victor Frankenstein - Alec Newman Caroline - Julie Delpy Professor Waldman - William Hurt Captain Walton - Donald Sutherland Old Blind Man - Jean Rochefort Professor Krempke - Ian McNeice Henry - Dan Stevens Elizabeth Frankenstein - Nicole Lewis

Faithfully retelling a 19th century gothic novel means daring to be boring in places, but the peaks far outweigh those flat and arid stretches in this beautifully assembled Hallmark production: It should become the official home-study alternative for kids too lazy to read the book. Using the Halmi formula of small-name leads with more promotable titles and big-name cameos — usually against a lavish period backdrop — this “Frankenstein” represents a literal and literate addition to the lengthy annals of monster lore.

Choosing to go where few producers have before, Hallmark returns to the source material, mirroring the book by relating the story of Victor Frankenstein and his murderous but tragic creature in flashback. Found near death in the desolate frozen wilds, Frankenstein (Alec Newman) recounts his story to the ship’s captain (Donald Sutherland) who finds him, beginning with a boyhood fascination with death that leads him to see if he can reanimate frogs, dogs and eventually his sewn-together creature (Luke Goss).

Unlike most previous renderings, the true-to-the-book monster is both sage and brutal, a superhuman force soured by the hatred with which he’s met. Abandoned by Frankenstein, he flees to the countryside, where observing a simple family makes him long for companionship.

Returning to his creator (or “father,” as he calls him), the creature asks for a mate, pledging to disappear once that wish is granted. Yet after he begins to fulfill his promise, Frankenstein reneges, prompting the embittered monster to exact brutal vengeance.

With his stringy mop of hair and gangly physique, rocker-turned-actor Goss more than anything resembles Ric Ocasek of the Cars, but it’s an effective performance, full of anger and pathos. Newman is solid as the obsessed Victor, who, having lost so many close to him, seeks to turn the tables from hunted to hunter. “Death pursues you like the devil,” his father tells him.

No doubt having Julie Delpy, William Hurt and Sutherland in extended cameos will help boost foreign sales, but the narrative focus fixates on the creature; Frankenstein; and the latter’s ill-fated betrothed, Elizabeth (Nicole Lewis). Moreover, the first half plods along too slowly for modern audiences waiting for the creature to behave like a monster — say, growl at fire and snap a few peasant necks.

Those raised on flashier images of Frankenstein may have a hard time acclimating to this more stately and romantic approach, which even feels a bit understated compared to the disappointing 1994 film starring Kenneth Branagh and Robert De Niro that went so far as to give Shelley title billing.

Yet this latest “Frankenstein” stands on its own, as does an updated USA Network version that premieres Sunday. As for the odds of two disparate productions leveraging such a well-known title both being worth the time investment: Sometimes, apparently, lightning really can strike twice.

Frankenstein

Hallmark Channel, Tue.-Wed. Oct. 5-6, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Slovakia and Norway by Silverstar Ltd. Prods. in association with Larry Levinson Prods. and presented by Hallmark Entertainment. Executive producers, Robert Halmi Jr., Levinson; co-executive producers, Nick Lombardo, Stephen McLaughlin, Therese Ryan; producer, Jim Wilberger; co-producer, Roger La Page; director, Kevin Connor; writer, Mark Kruger, based on the novel by Mary Shelle.

Crew: Camera, Alan Caso; editor, Jennifer Jean Cavas; music, Roger Bellon; production designer, Jonathan Carlson; special makeup effects, Robert Hall/Almost Human; casting, Gillian Hawser, Matthew Lessall. 4 HOURS.

Cast: The Creature - Luke Goss Victor Frankenstein - Alec Newman Caroline - Julie Delpy Professor Waldman - William Hurt Captain Walton - Donald Sutherland Old Blind Man - Jean Rochefort Professor Krempke - Ian McNeice Henry - Dan Stevens Elizabeth Frankenstein - Nicole Lewis

More TV

  • Mr. Peanut to Appear in His

    Mr. Peanut to Appear in His First Super Bowl Commercial

    The monocle-wearing Mr. Peanut is about to offer snack fans an entirely new lens on Super Bowl advertising. Planters, which has featured the anthropomorphic legume for more than a century as its spokes-character, will place him in a 30-second ad slated to appear in the second quarter of CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl LIII on [...]

  • DRG Boards Sales on Scandi Sci-Fi

    DRG Boards Sales on Scandi Sci-Fi Mystery Series ‘The White Wall’

    Scandinavian sci-fi series “The White Wall” is coming to the international market, starting at NATPE, after DRG picked up international rights to the upcoming project. Finland’s Fire Monkey and Nice Drama, part of the Nordic Entertainment Group, are making “The White Wall” for Swedish pubcaster SVT and its Finnish counterpart, YLE. It will feature a [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • R. KellyR. Kelly in concert at

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Producers on the Lifetime Doc's Ripple Effect

    The ripple effect of “Surviving R. Kelly” continues to widen more than a week after the documentary aired on Lifetime, renewing public interest — and outrage — over the litany of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B artist. Lady Gaga and Phoenix have apologized for working with him. Chance the Rapper and other artists are said to [...]

  • Yellowstone

    Viacom Lays Off Paramount Network Staffers Amid Reorganization (EXCLUSIVE)

    Viacom has laid off a number of staffers in its entertainment group, with the majority of the affected employees hailing from Paramount Network, Variety has learned exclusively. A Viacom spokesperson declined to comment. But a source with knowledge of the situation that the number of affected employees was fewer than 20, or less than 2% of [...]

  • The Last OG

    TV News Roundup: 'Last O.G.' Sets Season 2 Premiere Date on TBS

    In today’s TV News Roundup, “The Last O.G.” announces its Season 2 return date and Variety has the exclusive first look at Fox’s new legal drama “Proven Innocent.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has announced its new limited series “Black Earth Rising” will launch on Jan. 25. The contemporary thriller series stars Michaela Coel as Kate Ashby, a Rwandan girl [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content