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Movie bad! “I, Frankenstein”

January 28, 2014

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Probably the best way to watch I, Frankenstein  is after huffing a zeppelin-worth of spray paint. It won’t make the movie any better, or the dialogue sound like it was written by professionals and not, say ADD-afflicted spider monkeys, but you’ll care about it less.

Oh, this is dire. I mean, it’s just…look, halfway during this film—I think it was the part when Bill Nighy proclaims, “I am a demon prince! I heard the rational part of my brain—the part that keeps me from losing my keys and forgetting my name and stuff—and actually shout at the rest of my brain, “Wait, is this happening? This is a joke, right? No, seriously, this has gotta be joke.”

 I, Frankenstein, begins with the titular monster—played by Aaron Eckhart, because, I assume, he lost a bet—giving a quick recap of that story. “So, this scientist built me, but I’m all grody and he tries to kill me, so I kill his wife—because, hey, monster—and then he chases me to the Arctic, but he freezes to death and I don’t—again, monster—and here I am interning his body at the family crypt, and…hey, what’s the deal with all those demons?”

The is just how Mary Shelley envisioned a sequel would be...

The is just how Mary Shelley envisioned a sequel would be…

Yes, this is a movie about a war between demons and gargoyles.  Did you feel brain cells just die? I assure you, they did.

Yeah, so essentially, demons are around doing…demon stuff, I guess. But holding them in check are gargoyles, which aalternate between looking like badly-rendered CGI monsters and a bunch of 300 cosplayers. Leading the gargoyles is Lenore (Miranda Otto, having, I assume, lost the same bet as Aaron Eckhart), who wishes to recruit the monster—who she dubs Adam—into their army for no clear reason. Opposing this decision is her angry lieutenant, Gideon (Jai Courtney, the human/lemur hybrid last seen screwing up A Good Day to Die Hard), because Gideon is toolbag.

Jai Courtney or a ring-tailed lemur? You decide.

He looks like he should curled up in a tree  in Madagascar.

Meanwhile, the demons are led by demon-prince Naberies (the aforementioned Bill Nighy, who I think is just screwing with us now), who wants to get his hands…claws, paws, whetever…on Adam and/or Victor Frankenstein’s journals so his hawt scientist Terra (Yvonne Strahovsky) can figure out how to reanimate the dead and bolster his army.

And then they fight. And that’s more or less it.

Mary Shelley wrote extensively about the monster's chiseled abs.

Mary Shelley wrote extensively about the monster’s chiseled abs.

This is really less of a movie and more a collection of scenes that seem to have been cut from Constatine and, especially, the Underworld movies. Except that the Underworld movies at least built a world around their story—granted it was a retarded world, but at least they understood they needed to, like, do stuff besides have monsters fight. It should be damning enough just to say that those movies look like the Godfather trilogy compared to this. I mean, that’s like being a bad knockoff of a Yugo. I guess even when you scrape bottom there’s always the chance you’ll find the Mariana Trench.

"Have we ripped off the Matrix yet? No? Best get on that."

“Have we ripped off the Matrix yet? No? Best get on that.”

I mean, why are these beasties at war? Because shut up and eat your popcorn, that’s why. Why should we care about this when neither set of monsters interacts or show any interest in normal human beings? Because shut and watch the CGI fights, that’s why. Where the hell does this movie even take place, what with its massive population of gargoyles? Somewhere else, that’s where. See how lazy this movie is?

IF

They pretty much swiped the whole screenplay from the doodles on the back of a 13 year-old’s notebook.

The story of Frankenstein is one of the most prescient in Western culture, because it so perfectly got at the terror inherent in science—the divide between knowledge and wisdom. It’s a story that has seeped into the very fabric of our civilization. Using it as a setup for a silly monster mash is a bit like using Atticus Finch as the hero of a new detective show and giving him a sass-talking toucan as a partner. It doesn’t simply disrespect the source material; it treats it the way Genghis Khan treated any given peasant village.

On top of that, the effects are simply atrocious. It’s dead heat which looks worse: the cartoonish-looking demons or the demons, which are just latex masks that look they were slapped together during one of the earlier challenges on Face/Off.

Behold! The culmination of 120 years of special effects evolution...

Behold! The culmination of 120 years of special effects evolution…

Aw c’mon, Hollywood! Look, I realize that it is presently January, and that according to whatever pact you made with Cthulu, or the Council of the Lizard People, or whatever, you must dump your industry’s direst offerings until spring (because all of stuck here in the horse latitudes of the post-holiday weeks with nothing to look forward to except seeing if it can be even more oppressively cold and grey and depressing next week than it was this week certainly don’t want to, say, escape our dismal lives or anything like that). But that does not give you license to just crap out any old dreck and  slap it up on an IMAX screen. There have to be standards. You have to at least go through the motions and pretend like you’re making a real movie.

So, Hollywood, if you’re listening, next time just punch me in junk. It’ll be a lot faster, and I’ll feel marginally more dignified afterward.

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