Gods and Monsters explores the last days of James Whale, the director that brought to film such movies as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and so forth. He is homosexual and makes a game of it, seducing young men to take their clothes off for a variety of reason. But his eyes fall on his new gardener, Boone, played by Brendan Fraser. Fraser, known for such goofy films as George of the Jungle and The Mummy takes a turn to the dramatic side for this role. He still maintains his charm and charismatic features, but also shows that he can really act when a good script is presented to him. Ian McKellen got an Academy nomination for his portrayal of James Whale, and is well deserving. He plays perfectly a rigid old man with a quest, even if his character is disturbing. The best performance, however, is that of Lynne Redgrave, who also received a nomination as Hannah, Whale's sarcastic and overly cautious maid. She is hilarious, and a good addition to the film.
The movie itself is strangely directed. Bill Condon mixes in scenes from Frankenstein and some of the other Whale films, and sometimes puts McKellen and Fraser in the old black and white movies for effect. The result is a weird and twisted but visually stunning film. The short glimpses as the Great War show that Condon can do anything from a battle to a Los Angeles backyard.
There are some slow parts here and there but overall, Gods and Monsters is an excellent film. Not everyone will like it due to its content, but visually, intellectually, and physical, it is deserving of recognition.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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