I, Frankenstein in 3D Review
Ay yi yi.
January is a fascinating month when it comes to movie releases. This is when all the films that were not really good enough to go head to head with the Xmas releases timidly stick their heads out of their hole in an attempt to sneak a little bit of leftover scraps still on the table only to get caught and eviscerated by the household cat (that would be me in this particular case). What is really interesting to me is that there is even enough money in Hollywood for movies they apparently know are going to suck but still managed to green light.
The studios are rarely wrong in the area of timing and that brings up another question: how can the studio be dumb enough to give the production of a stinker like the Legend of Hercules a $70,000,000 budget based on the script equivalent of the crayon drawings of a slightly above average chimpanzee yet turn into the Stephen Hawking of scheduling when it comes time to release their sewage onto the market? It seems like whoever they have deciding that this film just isn’t strong enough to swim in the adult pool should have been consulted a couple months before production started. Oh, well.
Not that I, Frankenstein is horrifically bad. Based on what I have seen so far (this and Hercules) it is literally the best release of 2014. It is a weird study in contrasts. The quality of the movie bounces back and forth like the needle on a Richter Scale during a 7.2 earthquake. The story is Ass from the Planet Ass in the Asstastic Nebula but for some bizarre reason they cast some exceptional actors and the acting is far superior to the actual dialog. The CGI seems pretty awesome at times and then all of a sudden it looks like you are watching the flying monkeys from the original Wizard of Oz. There are some really awesome action scenes and the world they have created is somewhat intriguing, but they literally overexplain every detail to death and then you realize that the werewolves and vampires (I’m sorry, gargoyles and demons) have been dredged up from the deepest literary pit and have no relationship to anything that makes sense. The plot moves in fits and starts but at least it moves, only to have every smidgen of good will you have garnered ruined in the last two minutes by one of the dopiest hero monologs since the ending of Cave Dwellers. I am a fan of Aaron Eckhart but he would have to absorb the acting talent of every actor in the history of the universe to make his oath to defend humanity against demons sound anything other than laughably annoying.
I would like to bring up another issue that got on my jock in this film. It would be fair to say that if I had a flatter head, some scars, and bolts coming out of my neck I would not need much more to look like the classic Frankenstein (Franky image courtesy of the Horror Movie t shirt category). Where do they get off casting a guy with the body of Adonis and a face that women seem to drool over? Sorry but when they keep calling a guy who looks like an ex Calvin Klein model a “monster” just because he has some scars it is an insult to those of us with average (or challenging) looks. Also, realistically what function is served by this? Do they really think they are going to pull in women to their Frankenstein action movie with him? I see this film as a real failing in forward planning. The main guy is too old to bring in the teeny bopper Twilight fans, too good looking to be believable to the guys who like action films, and the film is too action oriented to appeal to the women who might like to see Aaron Eckhart shirtless. Fail deluxe.
The story. Adam (Aaron Eckhart-Thank You for Smoking, Battle Los Angeles, Olympus has Fallen) starts off telling the story of his creation by Dr. Frankenstein and how he murdered Mrs. Frankenstein and let his creator freeze to death. While burying the good doctor he is attacked by demons who talk about bringing him back alive to Prince Naberius. Suddenly the demons are attacked by three living gargoyles; Gideon (Jai Courtney-A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher, Spartacus), Ophir (Mahesh Jadu-Taj, the Three Stages of Sasha, Singularity), and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey-All Cheerleaders Die, Evidence, Please Like Me). They pick up Adam and haul him in front of their queen Leonore (Miranda Otto-The Lord of the Rings, What Lies Beneath, War of the Worlds).
They turn out to be the Earthly manifestation of something that may or may not be angels sent to Earth to fight against demons. The demons want Adam for something and Gideon wants to kill him to keep them from him, but Leonore (after explaining every detail of the whole gargoyle/demon thing) opts to let him go after giving him some magic weapons. Adam wants nothing to do with their war but decides to dedicate his life to hunting down and killing demons (how is that from joining the gargoyles in their war exactly?) for some ill defined reason.
Flash forward 200 years and Adam is still running around the world looking for demons to kill. Meanwhile Naberius (Bill Nighy-Hott Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, About Time) is a very rich something and is experimenting with reanimating the dead. To do this he hires the hottest scientist ever Terra (Killer Elite, Chuck (yes, the blond), The Canyon) who for some reason doesn’t have alarm bells go off when a very evil looking and sounding dude tells her he wants to be able to reanimate corpses for humanitarian reasons.
(As another aside, sorry but this girl does not pull off the nerdy scientist very well. I know, I’m a big sexist jerk but honestly she looks and acts like the evil demons head of Marketing, not R&D. I’ll buy a woman scientist in a heartbeat but when they clearly look like the just got dressed from their Maxim photo shoot I can feel my suspension of disbelief gasping for oxygen.)
So Adam shows up in the City of Location Unknown (seriously, what city was this? It all started over 200 years ago and seemed to be somewhere in Europe but the few humans had British accents and the cop looked like a NYPD officer), where no one ever notices things like giant flying gargoyles and thousands of demons attacking a local Gothic building of unknown provenance and bursting into flame when the gargoyles attack them with medieval weapons. They pick him up and chain him to a chair for no apparent reason. The demons attack, and force Dr. Frankensteins notebook out of them in exchange for Leonore.
Honestly this plot is pretty predictable. Naberius wants to use either Adam or the notebook to build thousands more Frankensteins. Apparently if you are reanimated you have no soul and a demon can possess you. There are a lot of cool fight scenes and the movie ends with the stupidest monolog ever.
I can’t say the acting is exceptionally good but it far exceeded the boundaries set by the story and dialog. I think it’s just that they hired a bunch of really good actors. None of them did what I would consider a stellar performance when compared to any of their other work but overall the acting was actually kind of pleasant. One star. Most of the action scenes were pretty good, with some excellent transition from flying to ground combat. Looks like the fight choreographer really thought about what combat with flying statues would look like. One star. At the moments when the hamsters running the CGI wheel were well fed the CGI was really good. One star. While extremely derivative of Underworld (as in the clump of hair I just pulled out in frustration at another movie with a $65 million budget spending $114 and a case of Old English on the writing is derivative of my scalp) the world created was at least an interesting concept. One star. Bill Nighy was his usual awesome self. He plays possible the best villain out there. One star. The blond was at least easy on the eyes, although you see more of Aaron Eckharts body than hers. One star. At the end I didn’t feel like it was a total waste of 93 minutes of my life. One star. Total: seven stars.
The black holes.
The story was kind of dopey without any reason for the audience to connect to it. Who are these gargoyles and why should we care exactly? What is Adams motivation to do anything at all? This film also fell into the scope trap I talk about a lot. Destruction of the human race? Do they really think that I am going to believe that is how the film will end? If I can’t believe that the film producers would ever let the bad guys plan come to fruition how can I care about anything the good guys do? One black hole. If you are going to do a movie about the Frankenstein monster and call him a monster the whole time can you not at least make him look a little monstrous and not like an extra from a Gold’s Gym advert? One black hole. When the hamsters powering the CGI wheel ran out of food they died and stank up the screen with their bloated corpses, giving us creature movement that would have embarrassed the original Clash of the Titans. One black hole. The film sat right on the fence about being about the character of the Frankenstein monster, this hypothetical war between demons and gargoyles (can we just call them angels? For God’s sake commit to something and take a chance. Otherwise call them gargoyles and orcs, or insectoids, or Flying Spaghetti Monsters. It’s about the same), and just a dopey action film. One black hole. The PG-13 rating was a serious anchor on this film , with both demons and gargoyles dying in kid friendly evapo-explosions (kids should never see corpses or blood. That might damage their fragile little brains), only one female showing no skin below her knee, and all the other wet blanket aspects that a movie that should be going for an R rating but opts to try to make more money brings to the screen. One black hole. The whole plot is predictable and very by the numbers. It kind of just plods along like a horse pulling a plow and has about the same level of surprise and suspense. One black hole. Way too much dialog for an action movie. I normally applaud having things laid out but at a couple points I wanted to yell STFU to the screen. One black hole. While I suppose most of you could assume this will be my feeling in any 3D film but the 3D added nothing to the movie except an extra $3 for the ticket. One black hole. And finally the really insanely bad monolog at the end where Adam Frankenstein swears an oath to no one to defend humanity against the demons while posing on a church roof really made me want to burst my own eardrums with a knitting needle. One black hole. Total: nine black holes.
So two black holes, which puts it on the down side of mediocre. Better than the last film I did, making it my current contender for best film of 2014. I honestly don’t think it will hold that slot past this weekend. Worth seeing? I suppose if there literally isn’t anything else you want to see. There are good parts that you will enjoy but honestly other than occupying two hours of your life will add nothing else. Odds are you will have forgotten this film two weeks later. Date movie? Not really. The only thing that would appeal to your date would be Aaron Eckharts washboard abs and I don’t think you want to put yourself in that contest. Bathroom break? There is a scene where the hot blond is stitching up Adams shoulder that is 100% worthless filler. Go nuts.
Thanks for reading as always. Lots more to see this weekend. I need to get caught up and expect to have more funny reviews soon. Follow me on Twitter if you can @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments on this review or movie feel free to post them here. If you have off topic questions or suggestions email them to me at email@example.com. Thanks and have a great day.