Film Review: Frankenstein’s Monster

A steampunk light film showing a Space City Con

In preparation for Space City Con 2014, which will be from January 3-5, I would like to take a moment to review a film,  Frankenstein’s Monster, produced by First Step Cinematics. This film will be screened at Space City Con on January 5th at 330 PM.

I was lucky to get an advanced screening copy of this film prior to Space City Con, and I’m glad to tell you guys about how amazing it is.

Before I begin reviewing this film, let me show you the trailer:

A further note: this review might contain spoilers to the film. Ordinarily, I attempt to avoid using spoilers in film discussions, but as the story of Frankenstein is quite old, I’m not worried about ruining the ending.

Essentially, Frankenstein’s Monster is a retelling of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s 1818 classic novel, Frankenstein, set in a steam-punk world. Instead of electricity and lightning, Victor Frankenstein uses the power of steam to bring his creature to life. The film does an excellent job of remaining true to the story while incorporating the steampunk elements without being “too steampunky.”

The filmmakers describe the film as “Steampunk light.” What I see this to mean is that the film has just enough steampunk in it to let the viewer know they are in a steampunk film without overpowering the plot, characters, or scenery with steampunk images.  As a genre, steampunk can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. It is to the great benefit of the film that there are steampunk elements without utilizing too much imagery of the genre. Frankenstein has a steam apparatus instead of electrodes, people occasionally dress in steampunk attire. The Lab where Victor creates the Monster is steam-powered. The rest of the steampunk is left to the imagination of the viewer.

Frankenstein’s Monster was made with a small budget, less than the cost of a motorcycle. The smaller budget allowed the filmmakers to focus more on storytelling and less on the blood and gore aspects that typically overwhelm the story of Frankenstein. The focus of this film is, at the heart, the story, not the blood, gore, and tech. The film is beautifully done despite the low budget.

monster climb stairs
The monster climbs the stairs

The technical aspect of the film is quite breathtaking. From the beginning of writing until the completed product, the film was made in one year and one month, with principle filming taking place over.At Space City Con, I will be interviewing several people attached to the film, and in that blog I will talk more on the technical aspects, casting, and specifics of Frankenstein’s MOnster. For now, I want to focus on the things I found amazing about this short movie. The film has several masterful and gorgeous scenes and shots.

The film was shot entirely in the Houston/Galveston area, near the home of Moon Sedai and Anexandros. There are twelve different locations and 8 major local historical landmarks used in Frankenstein’s Monster. In many ways, the film is a tribute to Houston/Galveston history through these landmarks. The ship in the film is the tallship Elissa, which is moored at the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston, Texas. When Justine is hanged for the murder of William Frankenstein, the filmmakers used a tree that once was used to hang Texas criminals. Actual mortuary sheets were used in the production.

girl
Victor’s Dream Sequence, at the Church

What I really liked about the film was how actor Matt Risoldi portrayed the Monster. Instead of Electrodes, he had a steam apparatus attached to his neck, releasing steam in bursts as he talked and moved. Risoldi towers over the rest of the cast. He emotes well, and is quite believable as the Monster. The Monster is sympathetic, even to his creator for a moment. He screams, he rants, he rails, it is the Monster, not the Mad Scientist, who admits that he “IS ALIVE!!!!

The Monster confronts his Creator
The Monster confronts his Creator

Another aspect I really liked about the film is how creative the filmmakers had to be to get certain shots. For example:

william
Here Lies William Frankenstein

The boy William is killed by the monster as a fit of anger towards his creator. Instead of making a new stone, the filmmakers found one that worked for their purposes. All we see is “William” and a birth year. No date of death, no last name. Similar things happen in other scenes in the historical areas of Houston/Galveston. (The scenes filmed in the perpetually-docked Elissa come to mind here).

I have seen other low budget films that didn’t take this kind of precaution, where you are taken out of the film by accidentally seeing part of someone’s home, the street, or something that doesn’t quite mesh with the film world on the corner of the camera. This film takes great care to make sure that does not happen.

Bravo, Filmmakers! Beautiful cinematography! 

If you like the story of Frankenstein, steampunk, or even want to see pieces of some good Texas history, definitely check this film out.

If you are not going to Space City Con, you can still watch the film. First Step Cinematics website has a listing of Events and Showings.

Keep an eye out next weekend for my interview with First Step Cinematics about this film.

Film Review: Frankenstein’s Monster Reviewed by on .
4.5

Steampunk Frankenstein?

How great is it?
The Monster is sympathetic, even to his creator for a moment. He screams, he rants, he rails, it is the Monster, not the Mad Scientist, who admits that he “IS ALIVE!!!! The film works to stay true to the original text.

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