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The first thing you need to know about this particular "Frankenstein" is that it the pilot for an aborted USA Network series based on concepts and characters by Dean Koontz. However, Koontz and USA apparently came to a parting of the waysd with two significant results: Koontz's name disappeared from the USA project and the author wrote a series of novels with Kevin J. Anderson, the first of which, "Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, Book One: Prodigal Son," appears to cover a lot of the same ground (but I have not read it and therefore can not speak to specific differences). This may well be enough information to forestall Koontz's fans from watching this pilot movie and proceeding directly to the novels. But I like pilots and tend to watch as many as I can because I find them intrinsically interesting.

The premise of this "Frankenstein" is basically that Mary Shelley got most of the story right and changed some names. In the novel Frankenstein brings his creation to life and then abandons him, with the latter being his greater sin for which he and his family must pay. In this pilot the doctor is now named Victor Helios (Thomas Krestchmann), the filthy rich owner of a biotech company in New Orleans. Helios has found ways of keeping himself alive for several centuries and has been continuing his experiments with an eye towards replacing flawed humanity with his master race spawned in his company's vats. Helios even gets to program his creations as he desires and has just come up with a new version of his wife, Erika (Ivana Milicevic). A good question here is whether "Frankenstein" still applied to the doctor, as in the novel, or to his creation, as in pop culture, but it does not matter because both are here.

The first creation is now called Deucalion (Vincent Perez), and while the name comes from classical mythology it is not, as you might suspect, one associated with Prometheus. As you will recall, Prometheus created the first humans in Greek mythology and the subtitle of Shelley's novel was "The Modern Prometheus." Decaulion, on the other hand, is the Greek counterpart to Noah, who survives the great flood with his wife Pyrrha and repopulates the world. However, to the extent that he is the first human to have a name in mythology, Decaulion has that in common with Adam as well. Since Helios (the name of the god of the sun, son of Hyperion) is the villain, that allows Decaulion to be the heroic figure. This is necessary because there are a whole bunch of Helios creations running around and one of them appears to be a serial killer.

Working on the case are Detective Carson O'Conner (Parker Posey) and her partner Detective Michael Sloane (Adam Goldberg), and once Carson and Decaulion start running into each other on a regular basis you are going to have to make a point of reminding yourself this is "Frankenstein" and not "Beauty and the Beast" (the Vincent and Catharine one on television and not the Disney musical one that was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar). This is key because that gives you a better sense of the dynamic of this would-be series than having watched all of the Universal films regarding Frankenstein. Also involved in the case and its developments is Detective Harker, and since he is played by Michael Madsen you know this is not a good sign. There is more to the serial killer than meets the eyes, and we find out some interesting things about these creations that would have implications for the series that this pilot never got off the ground.

As much as I like Posey as an actress with strong Independent credibility and Goldberg as comic relief in just about everything he does, they really seem too young to be detectives. I also have some questions as to how Helios can create enough of his creatures to keep up with the birth rate in New Orleans let along the state of Louisiana, the former states of the Confederacy, the United States, North American, the Western Hemisphere and eventually the entire world, because I tried doing the math and I do not see it working out that way. The script by John Shiban, who worked as both a writer and a producer on "The X-Files," certainly sets up sufficient premises for an on-going series, but I do not know if it is a good thing when I find myself more interested in the relationship between Helios and Erika than the one between Decaulion and Catherine, er, I mean Carson.

The reason I ended up rounding up on this one in the end is because I liked the look of the film, not just in terms of Leslie Keel's art direction, but also the efforts of director Marcus Nispel. His updated version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" creeped me out, which is a pretty good accomplishment given more of the jetsam and flotsam out there in the world of contemporary horror films. Take into account that he is doing this for television (albeit cable) and not a theatrical film and the results are pretty impressive. There is a great look to the film and Nispel is again working with cinematographer Daniel Pearl to come up with some interesting shots, so if you do not think that style over substance is an inherently bad thing that would be another reason to give this "Frankenstein" a try (and if you really want the substance the Koontz-Anderson novels are out there waiting for you).
22 comments| 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
First suggestion: read the book which Dean Koontz and Kevin Anderson wrote after they parted ways with the USA Network. Then this failed tv pilot will have a little more credence. It's unusual translation of the much used plot is unique in its conception, and I hope that someone might take it upon themselves to continue, as the book series is quite entertaining thus far. Parker Posey is good as Detective Carson O'Connor, but Adam Goldberg is miscast as her wisecracking sidekick. Thomas Krestchmann (so good in a small but pivotal role in THE PIANIST) doesn't quite have the megalomaniac frenzy that's in the novels, but he does an admirable job. Michael Madsen is more subdued than usual in his role as Detective Jonathan Harker (irony with a name taken from fellow gothic thriller DRACULA). Vincent Perez makes an interesting Deucalion, but he's not used in the movie very much so far. The lighting and direction are sharp, and the music appropriate. I don't know if we'll see anymore in this adaptation, so don't be surprised at the open ending.
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on July 16, 2016
This is like the story of the books from Dean Koontz series of Frankenstein with the creature who is at the end that gets away. They don't show what the creature looks like but I am willing to bet it's Joxer in one of Dean Koontz's books.
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on March 7, 2013
Yes, the character names are the same and the plot line is similar enough to drive you mad, but the acting and everything else is atrocious. The Deucalion characterization makes no sense at all. Save your money and flee just like Koontz did. Or better yet, read the book which is brilliant.
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on February 28, 2014
Dr Frankenstein as we know him is still alive after 200 years even the monster he made expect his first creation has become more human.The Dr is trying to make the perfect human by cloning.Which leads to strange events and A very odd movie and scenes. His first creation discovers what he's up to is trying to stop with some help from A cop. This is the odds Frankenstein movie ever but it is great Imean the monster and the man who made him are still alive and set in New Orleans there's lots of action and mystery.
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on November 9, 2005
This one is a mixed bag; it was intended to be a television pilot -- something we didn't know when we rented it, but figured out pretty quickly. The writing is pretty good, but the cast is what really makes this one: Vincent Perez as the original monster, Thomas Krestchmann as the deranged scientist, Ivana Milicevic as his resurrected wife; and a crew of law enforcement including Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, and Michael Madsen.

Think the old TV show "Beauty and the Beast" more than "Van Helsing." This was directed by the guy who did The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and produced by Martin Scorsese, so you know it's got style for miles. But when I learned that this was loosely based on a book by Dean Koontz, Frankenstein lost a little of its charm -- which isn't fair, I know. I loved ol' Dean when I was a teenager, but I haven't been able to take his books for years. Maybe I owe him another visit, I don't know.

For all its flaws (pacing, mostly -- and a tendency to fixate on the wrong details), I really enjoyed this aborted TV show and regretted the fact that it never found a home. But then I found out that it would have aired on the USA network, and I don't have cable anyway.
Ah, well.
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on January 5, 2008
Ok, First the movie stares Parkery Posey! (LOVE HER) and second it is shot in New Orleans (LOVE IT!) So how could it be too bad? It's not! Based on Dean Koontz characters this is an entertaining film. My advice is buy the books so you will really understand what is going on. I, for one, will be glad when the sequal is released so I can complete my collection.
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on September 4, 2015
Shot originally as the pilot for a never-to-be television series, Marcus Nispel's "Frankenstein" is a gritty neo-noir set in (pre-Katrina) New Orleans. Dr. Frankenstein's (He's called "Helios," in this version) quest for the perfect superior creature takes him, and the story, into seemingly supernatural territory, but it's all served with more than a liberal dash of irony. Parker Posey (in a Farrah Fawcett hairdo!) and Adam Goldberg trade off-hand jibes in classic mismatched, cop-partner partner style, Vincent Perez is a moody New-Age Creature of long, long, life, and Michael Madsen ("Reservoir Dogs") shines as a particularly tormented soul. We're in Dean Koontz territory here, but in this case that's OK.
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on November 4, 2014
I'm giving the movie 5 stars because Dean Koontz who is the auther of the series of Frankenstein books deserves 5 stars. The movie was realy good, but incomplete. Dean Koontz is such a fantastic writer. Each of his books have very intricate stories and numerous well developed characters that to make a decent movie out of one of his books much less a series is almost impossible. I realy loved this movie because I had already read the book series and could fill in the blanks. This would be great as a pilot for a series as would the Odd Thomas movie. I recommend that people read the books first to get the most out of this movie. It will be time well spent
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on January 21, 2013
Poorly done.
This first book by Dean Koontz was awesome!
The movie, not so much.

In the book Deucalion is a very large very scary and grotesque man with a very derformed face.
In the movie he is a good looking man with a scar on his face. ??REALLY??

Just crap.
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