'Lisa Frankenstein' review: Liza Soberano deserves Hollywood

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
'Lisa Frankenstein' review: Liza Soberano deserves Hollywood
Liza Soberano and Kathryn Newton in "Lisa Frankenstein"
Universal Pictures

MANILA, Philippines — Zelda Williams, the half-Filipino daughter of Robin Williams, teams up with Oscar winner Diablo Cody for her feature directorial debut "Lisa Frankenstein" that attempts to hark back to iconic themes of '80s films with a gory, campy twist.

Kathryn Newton portrays Lisa, the new kid in school who feels out of place for reasons beyond her quirky fascinations: that being the gruesome murder of her mother by a psycho with an axe.

Fed up with the torment of her stepmother Janet (Carla Gugino) and high school embarassments that pile up in one night, Lisa wishes to spend her days with the deceased Victorian era man whose grave she's taken a liking to.

What she meant was she wanted to be dead too, but when the corpse (Cole Sprouse) suddenly comes to life thinking she has romantic interests, Lisa discovers an even more shocking way to enjoy life.

There are lot of expectations seeing the combination of Zelda and Diablo, after all, what could go wrong when you have the offspring of a comedic genius and the visionary writer of "Juno"?

Such eagerness should be curtailed because Zelda's inexperience behind the camera shows as the film can't seem to find the right tone that can deliver a winning punch.

The attempts are clear with Diablo's help, who clearly feels a kinship to another movie she wrote "Jennifer's Body" but can't seem to replicate here, and the homages to both classic and '80s horror can only do so much.

Granted its an interesting take on the "Frankenstein" story with a sex positivity outlook bested by the must-see "Poor Things," but a cluttered direction puts the film off-course.

Related: Next Attraction: Movies, series showing in February 2024

There are still bright spots though, like Kathryn who is difficult to dislike in any performance and Cole who gives off a sort of Johnny Depp charm the way he did in "Edward Scissorhands" — one of the evident inspirations alongside "Beetlejuice," "Carrie," and mesh of John Hughes classics.

Another amusing inclusion is Liza Soberano in her first Hollywood project as Lisa's step-sister Taffy, who at first comes off as the typical "mean cheerleader" character but in actuality means well but doesn't show it correctly (which makes her character all the more enjoyable).

Should Liza continue a path in Hollywood, there is a risk she may be typecast into Taffy-like characters. But Filipinos know all too well the actress has much to offer, grains of which sprinkle through the film.

In many scenes, Liza's Taffy is the most engaging element. In fact for a supporting role, she has a healthy amount of screentime — only topped by Kathryn and Cole — that she even trounces that of Carla's who is arguably the most experienced actor in the cast.

The singular scene Taffy directly shares with Cole's character is quite the riot that will make or break the film for most viewers, and what Liza shows in the aftermath proves that she is very capable of rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's brightest.

"Lisa Frankenstein" could have used more dashes of Tim Burton or Hughes, that or try not to force the '80s nature of loud pastels and radio ballads.

Diablo has been a bit scattered since her Oscar win, but there is still definite optimism for the careers of Zelda and Liza should they play their cards right, and not end up rotting in forgotten graves.

RELATED: Liza Soberano saw 'instant connection' with 'Lisa Frankenstein' character

vuukle comment







  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with