Late To The Party : “I, Frankenstein”

Posted: January 5, 2015 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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Let’s kick off a new semi-regular (meaning whenever I get around to it) feature around here, shall we? “Late To The Party” will be my catch-all title for reviews  either of flicks that have played theatrically sometime within — just to be random — the last year or so, but that I didn’t catch on the big screen, or movies that are still playing but that I don’t get around to seeing (or reviewing) for a few weeks, a month, whatever. This will come in handy since America’s best second-run theater, Minneapolis’ historic Riverview, is literally just up the street from our house and I go there occasionally but pretty much never review what I’ve seen there because I feel like I’m — well, late to the party. So now I have no excuse for being lazy and not doing write-ups of stuff I catch up there.

Still, for all that WTMI, I’m kicking this new sub-header off not with something I just got back from seeing at the Riverview, but with something I watched last night on Netflix — veteran screenwriter/first-time director Stuart Beattie’s 2014 low-rent CGI spectacle I, Frankenstein, based on a comic that totally escaped my notice by Keven Grevioux (maybe I did see it at the comic shop but it had a hard time standing out because there were also books out at roughly the same time called I, Vampire and iZombie, I dunno). In any case, I really did mean to see this thing back when it was playing in cinemas, but it came and went before I had time, and for whatever reason I didn’t rush to rent it when it came out on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate some six or so months back. Still, when it turns up on Netflix for free, what the hell? This time I’m in for sure.

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To the surprise of no one who’s already seen it, I’m sure — and probably even those of you who haven’t — “free” turns out to be exactly the price of admission I, Frankenstein is worth, but don’t be hasty and assume that means I didn’t like it. Truth be told, I kinda did, I’m just honest enough to admit that a lot of what I like is pure crap. The refreshing thing about Beattie’s modern monster movie, though, is that it’s also honest enough to admit that crap is all that it is, and so it serves it up by the bucket-load and gives lovers of low-grade celluloid fare more or less exactly what we want.

As evidence I offer up the following plot points : Frankenstein’s monster (sometimes called Adam, sometimes called Frankenstein, and played by the walking series of bad career moves that is Aaron Eckhart) is still alive some 200 years after his creation. He killed his maker’s bride and then led the not-so-good doctor himself on a chase into the frozen north, where he would have killed him, too, but ol’ Vic froze to death first. Then an army of demons tried to do him in, which is easier said than done since he’s apparently immortal, and he was rescued by an army of living gargoyles. Both the gargoyles and demons can disguise themselves as humans easily enough, and the gargoyles are actually angelic beings led by a matriarch named Leonore (Miranda Otto), while the demons are led by a prince of Hell named Naberius (Bill Nighy), who in modern times — which Beattie eventually drags us to about 30 minutes in — has taken to ensconcing himself in a world where any hell-spawn would feel right at home : high finance.

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Naberius’ latest scheme is to re-animate the corpses of dead humans with the spirits of his fallen demonic brethren, who will then rise up and claim Earth for themselves, but he’s having trouble — even with all the resources at his disposal, including a brilliant young scientist named Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) that Frankenstein is sweet on — using electricity to jump-start the deceased, which is where our, in his own words, “dozen parts stitched together from eights different corpses” comes in.

A war between demons and gargoyles with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance and Frankenstein caught in the middle? Yeah, this does sound like something I’d pay to see in the theater.

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If lots of senseless supernatural action sequences, characterization done in the broadest strokes possible to imagine,  beyond wooden acting, and gaping plot holes —all  played out almost entirely in front of a blue screen so as to add in a mind-numbing succession of less-than-entirely-convincing CGI later — is your cup of tea, then you’ll probably have just as much fun with I, Frankenstein as I did. The film’s poster proudly proclaims it to come “from the producers of Underworld,” and if you dig those flicks then this one will be right up your alley, as well.

No, it’s not good — not in any conventional, or even unconventional,  sense of the word. But since when does a movie have to be good in order for you to like it?

Comments
  1. whorerfan says:

    Haha, I just watched this a few nights ago with a friend. We were looking for a new, bad sci-fi movie. I appreciated the gargoyles. But the first thing I said is “Why is his face so long? He looks more like a vampire than a Frankenstein monster.” I like your last line. Excellent point.

    • trashfilmguru (Ryan C.) says:

      Thanks, I agree Eckhart doesn’t look particular Frankenstein-ish, he’s got — what? Maybe two scars, total, on his face?

  2. An army of living gargoyles? I’m in.

  3. Also just caught this on Netflix last week. And yes to everything. I think this is as good as the worst of the Underworld trilogy but not as fun since it doesnt create much of a “world” (she laments, pushing her nerdy glasses higher on her nose). I mean the gargoyle thing is Sooo thin. But it was fun. Just what I was looking for when I hit “play”

  4. Victor De Leon says:

    Saw this. Might be a guilty pleasure flick for me down the line but you are right. The movie does not have to be good for us to dig it. Good point man.

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