Gods and Monsters


Gods and Monsters (1998)


Critic Consensus: Gods and Monsters is a spellbinding, confusing piece of semi-fiction, featuring fine performances; McKellen leads the way, but Redgrave and Fraser don't lag far behind.


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Movie Info

Hollywood history comes to life in this tale of the last days of Frankenstein director James Whale, played by Sir Ian McKellen. Long forgotten by the studios, Whale has retired to pursue painting and a life of leisure. Gods and Monsters explores his final fascination with a handsome gardener, Clayton Boone.

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Ian McKellen
as James Whale
Brendan Fraser
as Clayton Boone
David Dukes
as David Lewis
Mark Kiely
as Dwight
Jack Plotnick
as Edmond Kay
Rosalind Ayres
as Elsa Lanchester
Jack Betts
as Elder Karloff
Matt McKenzie
as Colin Clive
Todd Babcock
as Leonard Barnett
Cornelia Hayes O'Herlihy
as Princess Margaret
Brandon Kleyla
as Young Whale
Pamela Salem
as Sarah Whale
Michael O'Hagan
as William Whale
David Millbern
as Dr. Payne
John Gatins
as Kid Saylor
Amir Aboulela
as Young Karloff
James Lecesne
as Jack Pierce
Martin Ferrero
as George Cukor
Jesse H. Long
as Assistant Director
Owen Masterson
as Camera Assistant
Lisa Vastine
as Librarian
Kent George
as Whale at 25
David Fabrizio
as Photographer
Jesse James
as Michael Boone
Lisa Darr
as Dana Boone
Judson Mills
as Young Man
Arthur Dignam
as Ernest Thesinger
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Critic Reviews for Gods and Monsters

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (14)

An engrossing, unusual, imaginatively executed bit of psychological gamesmanship ...

Dec 1, 2008
Top Critic

Not a complicated film, but warm and clever.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

An example of a reasonably challenging film that doesn't really accomplish what it sets out to do, but is nevertheless thoughtfully-conceived and contains a couple of highly enjoyable performances that keep it afloat.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
Top Critic

McKellen, nevertheless, provides plenty of electricity -- even if the monster never quite gets off the table and walks.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

In short, it's a moment, and a film, about compassion.

Oct 3, 2017 | Full Review…

While Condon may not quite have captured an accurate Whale, he and his cast have brought a memorable creation to life.

Jun 18, 2012 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Gods and Monsters

I think there is an interesting film in here, but it is severely hampered by a poor script and a dreadful performance by Brandon Fraser. I know what you are thinking. How could the "Monkeybone" veteran give a less than stellar performance? Well I don't know how, but he does. While I understand that in many ways Fraser's character is supposed to mirror the Frankenstein monster, donning a flattop and not pausing much for thought, Fraser gives off the impression that he is too dim to actually even pull off acting dim. In fact, he acts a lot like I'm sure most of America believes he does when the cameras aren't rolling. I actually gave in to mild bursts of laughter just watching him "act". While I would have liked to see the story of James Whales, I was too busy trying to make sense of how Fraser got this role.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

First of all, to the reviewer who said you felt molested watching this movie. You're homophoic and should see someone about that. I thought it was really great. A nice telling of a Hollywood legend (not unlike Hollywoodland - but better!) I love Sir Ian McKellen and was doubtful on Fraser, but he really held his own. He wasn't fantastic, but he wasn't Keanu Reeves. I also really liked the subtle, sparse and dry humor interjected every little while. Something I wasn't quite expecting but it was nice. Most of it done by Ms. Redgrave. Overall a nice movie, not spectacular but definitely worth watching!

Jennifer D
Jennifer D

Super Reviewer


A very touching and sometimes ammusing look at the life of film Director James Whale. It is also a very telling look at the sad results of Hollywood's version of "Don't Ask Don't Tell", which (for the most part) is still in effect today. . Ian McKellen is brilliant in the role of Mr. Whale as is Lynn Redgrave as his faithfull (no pun intended) housekeeper. Brendan Fraser does very well, but comes across as a bit out of his league having to share the screen with those two.

Robert C
Robert C

Super Reviewer

A trio of excellent performances adorn "Gods and Monsters", Bill Condon's film about the elderly James Whale, one-time Hollywood director. Reclusive, waspish and cantankerous, Whale is looked after by his maid Hanna, a deeply religious lady who despairs of his gay sexuality but dotes on him nevertheless. Into the mix comes a slightly dim-witted young gardener Clayton Boone who catches Whale's eye and agrees to sit for the old director while he sketches him. Boone, initially unaware of Whale's gayness and then repelled by it, eventually comes to respect and love the old man. They are like two lost souls, polar opposites who nevertheless connect and come to depend on each other, much in the manner of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster in the movie that made Whale's name. Ian McKellen must have been the only choice to portray Whale, and he clearly relishes the opportunity. A biting wit masks his inner despair as he looks back on a life of childhood deprivation (much of it emotional), wartime loss, and fleeting happiness found in the gay subculture of Tinseltown. The accumulation of these experiences seems etched on McKellen's face so that there is not one moment when he is not inhabiting the role. Lynn Redgrave is simply wonderful in support as Hanna; her scenes with McKellen have a real fizz and convey a true sense of fondness between the two characters. Brendan Fraser, meanwhile, is very good as Boone. It may seem that playing nice but dim would come easily to Fraser, but there's a little more to him than that and he adeptly renders the subtle awakening in self-understanding triggered by Boone's contact with Whale. A character-driven chamber piece, "Gods and Monsters" feels more like theatre than cinema, despite its Hollywood theme. Great acting alone can't quite carry it, however, and after a sparklingly witty opening the pacing drags somewhat. On a conveniently dark and stormy night, the film descends into melodrama for its final act. A pity, because there's so much to admire here. Just as in his recent film "Kinsey", Condon shows himself to be a highly literate and sensitive film-maker, and a great director of actors. He's certainly not afraid to tackle subject matter that may not sit too comfortably in the multiplexes of middle-America. Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, however, I'm not sure he's yet managed to animate one of his creations with the sort of kinetic charge that truly brings a movie to life.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

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