Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: I, Frankenstein (Film)

If you saw the trailers for I, Frankenstein you might have shook your head and laughed. Frankenstein’s monster fighting a bunch of gargoyles? The hell? Plus it resembles Underworld or Blade in terms of look, which is not at all a compliment. It’s that World of Darkness RPG feel that would have been very interesting in the late 90s through mid-2000s but seems somewhat out of place in 2014. Apparently this movie is based on a graphic novel. Okay, I’ll buy that though I had never heard of it prior to me seeing this first trailer of this movie.

So yeah, this flick looks like garbage from the trailers and the commercials. Can we all agree on that? So let’s review it and see if it’s as god awful as it looks.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains some spoilers]


Rugged good looks and sculpted abs?
No wonder he was shunned and rejected by all mankind!
In 1795, following the death of his creator, the nameless “monster” (Aaron Eckhart) brings the body to bury it in the Frankenstein family cemetery. As he performs the grim task he is attacked by a group of demons only to be saved by another group; the Gargoyle Order. Named “Adam” by their queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) the monster is informed that there is a war being fought between Heaven and Hell on Earth by the demons and the gargoyles and that he is now involved. However Adam rejects this and abandons the gargoyles despite still being pursued by the demons. Two hundred (or so) years later Adam returns from hiding and is now sought after by both sides of the conflict.

It’s important to note that I, Frankenstein is not the weirdest movie version of the classic monster. We have decades of terrible B movies to thank for that. In fact to be fair the movie is actually not a bad adaption from the original novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. I mean, it’s far from perfect but it picks up after the novel and includes his murder of Frankenstein’s wife. Hell, the fact that he’s intelligent and knows how to talk automatically makes him possibly the most accurate movie version of the character ever made (in the book the monster was intelligent and could speak very eloquently). Of course Aaron Eckhart doesn’t match the grotesque appearance of the creature from the book at all but this is a Hollywood action film and you can only expect so much.

Speaking of Eckhart he and Bill Nighy are the highlight of this film. Both being very good actors it’s not surprising that they take what little they had to work with and turned it into something watchable. Of course it does sort of ask the question as to what the hell either of them are doing here (Answer: a paycheck). But hey, I think I liked Nighy here better than in the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks so there’s that (but not more than in Hot Fuzz, even though he was only in it for like fie minutes. I love that movie). The mythology and lore behind the film’s plot is pretty cool. The idea that demons have been fighting gargoyles in a secret war for centuries is at least attention grabbing. And I appreciate that there are no vampires involved at all. Because, you know, the 6,838 movies with vampires fighting someone in a secret war we already have is plenty.

Oh yeah, Yvonne Strahovski plays a scientist or something...
The actual story and script, however, is a total bust. Considering that the concept of this film is so bananas you’d think everything would be subject to outside-the-box thinking. Nope; nothing here is anything we haven’t see a hundred times before. The plot is frustratingly dull and there’s not a whole lot of surprise. The characters are especially annoying. For example I never really got what the deal with Adam was. What I mean is that his motivation seems to be most nonexistent. He seems like he just wants to be in control of his life but he’s action are pretty inconsistent with that. At some point he wants to know more about his creation then he seems to suggest he wants someone to make him a girlfriend (as Frankenstein promised him in the novel but never fulfilled) and I don’t know how any of that translated into “I’m going to protect all of mankind” but it surely did nonetheless. I think a better movie would have depicted Adam as True Neutral and had both the gargoyles as well as the demons be depicted as villains rather than the “One side is good, one side is evil”. I certainly don’t understand why [SPOILER ALERT] Adam suddenly gains a soul during the climax when he explicitly is said to not to have one as recently as a half hour before that.

The other characters are pretty shallow as well though insanely the movie stumbled upon a particularly interesting plot point that is literally thrown out of the window three seconds after it was introduced; there are these two gargoyles Ophir and Keziah who don’t really do much when they’re introduced aside from reciting some exposition but then suddenly [SPOILER ALERT] they’re revealed to be in love with each other which is apparently forbidden in the Gargoyle Order. Well that’s a pretty intriguing development and I would like to see where that goes-oops, that’s only actually mentioned immediately after both characters are killed not even halfway through the movie BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS F**KING TERRIBLE!!! Seriously, that would have been a really cool subplot; the two gargoyles who secretly are lovers and are ostracized by their own kind as a result, but then the demons still want them dead so they can’t exactly switch sides. Maybe they’re forced to stay by Adam’s side since he’s the only person in the conflict who doesn’t want to kill them? And maybe their love starts influencing Adam to reconsider his own ideas about trust and intimacy? Thus providing some much needed character growth for pretty much everyone? See, that sounds like a movie I’d be really into but for some goddam reason what we had instead was a pointless throwaway line with zero follow-up! It’s really telling when a random line a side character says right before she explodes is more potentially interesting than the plot of the rest of the film.

There are a lot of action scenes in this film, and most of it is in slow motion which wore out its welcome pretty quickly. Most of it seems too mindless and overly flashy for my taste. I suppose people who prefer action and don’t care about plot may find this more interesting than I do. But from my point of view it looked like the film was trying to distract me from how bad it was by throwing a bunch of special effects in my face.

This just makes me want a movie based on the old Gargoyles cartoon
I, Frankenstein isn’t the worst movie out there but it’s shallow, doesn’t take a lot of chances, and above all else it’s really, really dumb. It could have been a really awesome movie as the mythology presented is potentially cool. However, as evident in the “Ophir and Keziah” thing, the filmmakers pretty much made every wrong move plot-wise they possibly could from the get-go and the result is a flick that just isn’t very good. Still, as I said, it’s watchable. It would probably make a pretty good candidate for a “Bad Movie Night” with your friends. 

I give I, Frankenstein 2 Adorable Pandas out of 5

 
Pros 

-An interesting mythology 

- Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy make it worth watching 

Cons 

-Weak story 

-Weak characters 

-Guilty of style over substance 


Also I couldn’t help but notice that Adam dresses pretty much exactly like me. I think I may dress like a two hundred year old hobo.

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