This one is coming a lot later than it’s release date, but judging from the Box Office none of you have seen it. I suppose that counts for something? Every bit of word of mouth review I have heard for this film said it was god awful. I even heard it hit 0% on Rotten Tomatoes for a bit; though I can’t verify that as I don’t check other reviews before writing my own. I will stand by that til the day I die (not that death is really something I consider a limitation). Honestly due to the word of mouth alone going into this I expected the worst. The trailers didn’t do it much justice, despite the fact this is from the producers of Underworld; a film series which I rather enjoy for all it does bring.
Lets talk about the writer, Kevin Grevioux (Underworld) and the concepts he wanted to bring to screen. I discussed earlier the fact that Robocop also wanted to address the element of What does it mean to be a man? Where Robocop plodded along and refused to get to the point on that concept like some petulant child, I Frankenstein goes the other way. The movie has more exposition than anything I’ve seen recently, what keeps it from being painful is the fact that between the exposition is light tension and some relatively beautiful fight sequences. The entire concept of the film seems to revolve around the concept of the soul and does a man like Frankensteins Monster have one? What is it that makes him what he is? Is he a man, he is certainly not human, nor infernal, nor divine. Each scene of exposition seems to tie back to this basic concept; as do most of the relevant plot points. In this the movie succeeds heads above Robocop. Its also somewhat clumsy at times with it and a nasty habit of too much dialogue when they bother with it and dialogue said without a soul behind it.
Sadly that falls on the director and additional screenplay credit Stuart Beattie. It saddens me how hollow this one is when you compare it to other works he has done, such as “Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl” and a movie few of you have seen but all of you should, “Tomorrow, when the War Began”. TWWB is Red Dawn told better. It is shot beautifully, the characters are endearing and cover the gamut of what youd expect, but it does so much right and has actual heart to it. That is what saddens me about I,F. It has no heart, no soul of its own, which is ironic in a movie about a mans quest for a soul. It comes across too paint by numbers and a slight variation on Underworld; enough so that they could be in the same universe.
How you ask?
This is the story of a centuries old secret war between two diametrically opposed forces. Both sides become curious about a single individual with the intention on capturing and controlling him to give their side the advantage in the war. Be that advantage as a basis for a psuedo science experiment to create an ubermensch or just a weapon that can defeat the enemy. The “choosen one” wants to decide his own destiny and after resisting finally joins the war but on his own terms and his own side.
Which film did I describe? You can’t tell and thats a problem. A saving grace of the I,F story is the fact that they don’t deal with the Jesus metaphor in the central character that was ripe for the picking.
The acting is all over the place in the movie, which doesn’t help enhance the story. You have cases for overacting, underacting and people who are just phoning it in. Aaron Eckhardt as the Monster, decides to go for the underacting and apparently wants to show he could have played Batman as well. He is quiet, brooding and barely says a word focusing instead on long glares through his eyebrows. Jai Courtney (the abomination called the 5th Die Hard film) also went to the underacting school; though in his case I don’t know if its underacting or that he may infact be an animate mannequin. Bill Nighy showed up for the paycheck and decided to do what he does best and be the most awesome thing on screen. I really want to see a film with him and Gary Oldman, that would be fun to watch. Miranda Otto (Eowyn from Lord of the Rings) has not aged well the past few years, but tries her best and at least does well when she’s working with Eckhardt and showing the others how it’s done. Then there is Yvonne Starhovski (Chuck for some of you, Miranda from Mass Effect 2/3 for others) as Terra. I swear this girl cannot help taking roles where she’s reanimating the dead. She, like Otto, tries her best to play the role and pulls off a believable scientist. The movie thankfully only teases a bit of romantic or sexual tension between Terra and the Monster, and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude. It would have worked, but also would have been entirely unnessecary.
As far as the effects go, the transformation from Gargoyle/Angel to Human is one of the more beautiful effects I have seen and works in every situation. Conversely, the human to demon transition does not work nearly as well. The look of the Gargoyles themselves are mediocre at best. The Weapons and other technical effects are loaded with the traditional Underworld pretty but not practical factor. I also am left with questions on the housing market in Eastern Europe after watching it as nearly every building looks as if it should be condemned.
TL;DR time? I suppose.
I, Frankenstein is actually watchable if you enjoyed the Underworld series. Its light, its fluffy and makes for great background noise if you watch it on DVD or Netflix – which is its most likely venue for most people.
I cant say you need to see this film in good concience. but its certainly not the worst thing this year. It currently is floating on the top of the flotsam and jetsam of rubbish we have been delivered by Hollywood thus far. Wait for Redbox or Netflix folks.
I am hoping, though it is likely in vain, that 300 Rise of an Empire (I’d have preferred Battle of Artemisia its original title) coming in March will be the first film I can recommend with my soul ( stop laughing) intact.