Even though I didn't care much for their take on Blackbeard, I'm a huge fan of Frankenstein and wanted to see how Hallmark handled it. Pretty well, it turns out.
It's not flawless, but it is the most faithful adaptation of the book I've ever seen. I'm a huge fan of Kenneth Branagh and his movies but I'm still miffed at him for making something called Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that has the nerve to include a scene of Frankenstein's making a second creature out of Elizabeth's corpse. Hallmark's version was faithful enough that when it was on TV, it ran a disclaimer at the beginning saying that teachers could record it and use it in their classrooms.
Even the monster looked more or less the way Shelley describes him, and that's a big deal to me because my definitive look of the monster will always be the way Bernie Wrightson drew him based on Shelley's description. That was another big disappointment of Branagh's film: DeNiro's bald creature.
Hallmark's version of the monster isn't perfect though. He's actually not monstrous enough. Some more work on the make-up to make him look dead was needed and they should have distorted the actor's voice to make it deeper and more gravelly. As it was, he looked and sounded like a nice young man with a skin condition. He certainly didn't come across as the kind of person who would cause people to go mad with fear; running in terror or driving him from their homes with beatings and curses. It made the first half of the film hard to buy. Why was Dr. Frankenstein (played by the guy who played Paul Atreides in the SciFi Channel's version of Dune) so repulsed? Why did the blind man's father chase the monster away, even after an explanation that it was the monster who'd been chopping all the family's firewood for the last few days? You need a really nasty-looking monster to pull that off.
Once you get into the second half of the movie though, and the creature's relationship with the world is just part of the backstory, the cat-and-mouse game he plays with Frankenstein is exciting and compelling. Frankenstein, as in the novel, has proven himself to be such a jerk that you're actually rooting for the monster at this point. You hate what he does to Elizabeth, but you actually kind of understand his point of view. He's wrong and you wish he wouldn't do it, but you don't hate him a tenth as much as he hates himself. And you're just as frustrated as he is with Frankenstein who just. won't. give him. what he. wants! For God's sake, man, just make the other creature and let it be over!
Same feeling I got from the book.
I'm buying this one. I wish that the monster could've looked and sounded more horrifying, but other than that (and a bad German accent by William Hurt when everyone else is content to use their own), it's an excellent adaptation of the greatest monster story ever told.