Posts Tagged ‘aaron eckhart’


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.


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.


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.



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?

How many ways can a film suck? Let’s do a quick checklist, shall we, in relation, to this, Hollywood’s latest megamillion-dollar (well, okay, $70 million dollar, to be precise) waste of time.

1. It can have boring characters.

Check. Battle : Los Angeles doesn’t even have actual characters per se, it’s just got dull, bog-standard stereotypes dressed up in uniform. There’s Aaron Eckhart, who pretty much always sucks and just gets cast because he’s got a square jaw, as the forced-back-into-action military veteran who’s got to lead a platoon (or whatever they’re called) into battle despite the fact that he just got some men killed under his watch in Iraq (or maybe it’s Afghanistan) and was on the way to file his retirement papers. then there’s Michelle Rodriguez playing the same part she always does — a bad-ass superheroine-type who’s tough as nail but also supposedly sexy (even though she isn’t and never has been). Then we’ve got the guy about to get married, the African dude who joined the army to get his US citizenship so he could go to med school when his tour of duty was completed, etc. You’ll forget their names and their faces by the time they (mostly) get killed, and you won’t care when they die.

2. It can have an uninteresting story.

Battle : Los Angeles scores again on that front. After being given the most cursory “introduction” to the characters possible, we learn that the world is being invaded by giant fucking flying saucers with battle-ready robots spewing forth from them and by the time we learn what they’re doing here — evidently they want to rip off all our water — we no longer care (if we’re sane).

3. It can be poorly directed.

Another hit! Battle : Los Angeles is directed by grade-A hack Jonathan Liebesman who can’t decide if he wants to make Saving Private Ryan or Cloverfield and seems to get stuck somewhere in the middle. It’s trying to put us in the “middle of the action” at all times, but since we don’t give a single, solitary, flying fuck about any of the “action,” the middle of it is nowhere you’ll want to be. You just want everyone to get killed and the whole thing to end. Except it drags out for a brutal, interminable 116 minutes. Stay home and watch your toenails grow instead, it’ll be a more productive — and involving — use of your time.

4. It can have bad acting.

Bingo again! Battle : Los Angeles features atrocious, cardboard-cut-out acting from all involved. Nobody does anything above and beyond showing up to earn their paycheck.

5. It can have laughable dialogue.

Bull’s-eye! Battle : Los Angeles features some of the most ham-fisted dialogue to come out of Hollywood in recent memory, and that’s really saying something. No one has anything to say beyond brave-sounding bullshit and useless military jargon. this stuff makes John Wayne look positively fucking subtle by comparison.

6. It can have a stupid, intelligence-insulting premise.

On this score, Battle : Los Angeles is even more guilty than on the others. At its core this overstuffed pig is nothing more than a high-tech military recruitment film, designed to portray all our men and women in uniform (and form all cultures and all parts of the world — today’s army will take ’em all, aren’t they wonderful?) as noble, purposeful people of the highest integrity and unflinching virtue. PTSD , horrible injuries, even death — it all just goes with the territory when you’re fighting for all that’s right and good, doesn’t it? A small price to pay for defending — uhhhmmm — “freedom.” The hard, cold reality — that our government and, more specifically, its corporate bosses, view these guys and gals as nothing more than hamburger for their always-churning meat grinder is conveniently glossed over. Have fun dying for Halliburton and GE, suckers. Hollywood will always be around to spend millions portraying you as noble warriors for truth and justice rather than poorly-paid hired thugs for the corporate class. Might have something to do with who owns the studios, I’m willing to bet. Sure, there’s danger — but danger is cool!  Sure, you might end up on a morgue slab — but you’ll get there the “honorable” way. Your life — and death — will have meaning and purpose, unlike it does now (since most of that meaning and purpose has been robbed from you right from the outset by the same greedy bastards who will then tell you how “heroic” it is to put yourself on the line protecting their ever-increasing profit margins).

Ya know, I think I’m gonna stop right there. Sure, the list could go on and on, but the fact is that there are only so many ways for me to implore you to not see this film under any circumstances whatsoever. Honestly, it makes the Transformers flicks looks like complex, intricate woks of cinematic art. I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords — if it means that no more movies like this will ever be made.