Thursday, January 30, 2014

I, Frankenstein (2014)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Aden Young) creates a monster (Aaron Eckhart) in the 1700’s. Eventually, Dr. Frankenstein rejects his creation, and he tries to destroy the abomination, but the monster survives. The monster returns to Dr. Frankenstein’s home to murder his wife, Elizabeth (Virginie Le Brun). Dr. Frankenstein pursues his creation, but Frankenstein freezes to death in a snowstorm during his quest for vengeance.

Out of respect, the creature tries to bury Dr. Frankenstein, but the creature is forced to fight off an attack from an invading group of demons. The demons try to capture the creature for the demon prince, Naberius, because Naberius is obsessed with the creature and Dr. Frankenstein’s journal. But two gargoyle warriors named Keziah (Caitlin Stasey) and Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) rescue the creature.

Keziah and Ophir force the creature into a meeting with the gargoyle queen, Leonore (Miranda Otto), and the commander of the gargoyle army, Gideon (Jai Courtney). Leonore explains the detailed history of the hidden war between gargoyles and demons. Gargoyles are the protectors of earth, and Leonore offers the creature a spot in the gargoyle army to help in the fight against Naberius and his minions. He refuses the offer, but Leonore humanizes the creature with a name: Adam. Adam takes a set of gargoyle weapons for protection from demons during his journey for desolate land, and Adam wanders the earth for centuries, fighting off Naberius‘ forces to develop his skills as a warrior.

In the modern world, Adam is still a loner, who dedicates his life to fighting and eliminating demons. Naberius disguises himself as Charles Wessex (Bill Nighy), a wealthy businessman, who’s obsessed with reanimating corpses. Wessex uses his top scientist, Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) to follow in Dr. Frankenstein’s footsteps, but Naberius needs Adam and Dr. Frankenstein’s journal for the final steps in his master plan.

Adam and Dr. Frankenstein’s journal are the blueprints for Naberius’ plans of world domination, and Adam needs to fix his broken relationship with Leonore and the gargoyle order to fight off Naberius’ forces, including Zuriel (Socratis Otto) and Dekar (Kevin Grevioux). But Adam’s obsession with Dr. Frankenstein’s journal forces Leonore to make a tough decision…….

What happened to Aaron Eckhart’s promising career? This one question constantly pops up across the internet year after year, and it’s almost impossible to ignore the outcries for Eckhart’s mediocre run over the past couple of years. Why? For some strange reason, a lot of people believed in the possibility of a future full of Oscars and major leading roles for Eckhart.

Of course, Eckhart’s role as Two-Face/Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight sparked all the hoopla for Eckhart’s future. At best, Eckhart is a decent supporting player. He was lucky enough to land a role in one of the most praised and celebrated superhero films of the past twenty years, and that’s it. Eckhart was the leading man in Battle Los Angeles, and I enjoyed the movie, but Eckhart doesn’t deserve too much credit for his work in the leading role, because Battle LA was a spectacle of flashy and intense battle scenes.

Need more proof? Eckhart is not a draw, because I, Frankenstein flopped with a debut at #6 in the top ten box office standings. AND on top of that, you won’t see the best performance from Eckhart here. In the acting department, Miranda Otto and Bill Nighy carry this film (especially Otto) on their backs, and Yvonne Strahovski upstages Eckhart, especially during their scenes together. Eckhart’s performance is limited to tough guy stares, snarls, and a slow, raspy style of speech.

Eckhart is not on a fast track to stardom, so his supporters need to put a lid on all the “Hollywood is dropping the ball, because Eckhart is destined for greatness!” talk. Can’t think of too many reasons for individual recognition for the rest of the cast. Courtney and others all fall into the category of one-dimensional enforcer drones, with stilted lines of dialogue.

So Naberius needs Adam and Frankenstein’s journal. Why? Well, in order for Naberius to complete his plans for world domination, he needs vessels for trapped demon souls in hell. Long story short, after their deaths, demon souls descend into hell. On the flip side, gargoyle souls ascend into heaven. Anyway, for years, Naberius (as Wessex) used all of his money, time, resources, and Terra to perfect the reanimation process, but Naberius needs a firsthand “How to do” manual from the only man in history, who succeeded.

With Frankenstein’s journal or Adam’s body (Naberius doesn’t need both), Naberius plans to use reanimated corpses stored in an underground lair as vessels for returning demon souls. With a larger army of demons, Naberius can kill off the vast majority of the human race, and enslave the remaining human population.

Of course, Adam rejoins Leonore for the big battle against Naberius at the end. Adam overcomes the seemingly insurmountable odds to defeat Naberius, and Leonore orders her gargoyle clan to destroy all the corpses in Naberius’ lair. Leonore (in her gargoyle form) rescues Adam and Terra from Naberius’ crumbling building, and to close out the movie, Adam finally accepts his role as a warrior in the fight against the demons.

Eh, okay. A few problems here. First, the “big showdown” between Naberius and Adam is underwhelming. Second, why is Adam helping Leonore again? Before the invasion at the demon headquarters, Leonore ordered a hit on Adam. Gideon was supposed to kill Adam and collect Frankenstein’s journal. Adam is obsessed with the journal, because it’s the blueprint for his life, and the journal could give him the answers he’s looking for, so he refuses a direct order to hand over the journal to Leonore. But Adam turns the tables on Gideon during their fight, and Adam kills Gideon.

Also, what happened to the love story between Terra and Adam? Adam risked his life to save Terra after Naberius’ goons kidnapped her, and I, Frankenstein leads us in the direction of a developing love story between the two, because Terra could be Adam’s only companion on earth. But after Leonore saves Adam and Terra, I, Frankenstein completely abandons the love story without a follow up explanation? Ugh.

Looks play an important part in believability. Eckhart’s look doesn’t scream intimidating lethal bad ass, who can destroy anything in his path. In reality, Eckhart looks like a dirty bum. Seriously, who had the bright idea to dress Frankenstein’s monster in a trench coat, fitted jeans, and a hoodie? And the scars across Adam’s body don’t help the problem.

I, Frankenstein is trying to mimic the Underworld films? It’s almost impossible to ignore the similarities. The rogue outsider (Selene), who’s caught in the middle of a deadly blood feud between two races (the vampires and the werewolves), who hate each other? Yep. You’ll see a few familiar faces from the Underworld franchise with Bill Nighy and Kevin Grevioux, and you have Underworld producers Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi returning  for producer credits in I, Frankenstein. Yeah, if they were trying to create a gargoyles VS demons alternative to Underworld, they failed miserably, and there‘s no way to sugar-coat it.

It’s a shame, because I, Frankenstein had a nice story to build on for future films, but it’s a misfire on so many levels. The list of problems include poor execution, too much unintentional hilarity, terrible CGI, an overall mediocre cast, and an anticlimactic final battle. And if you’re looking for a decent amount of guilty pleasure fun, you should find another movie, because I, Frankenstein will disappoint you. I’ll give I, Frankenstein some credit for cool 3D effects, and the fight between Gideon and Adam is fun to watch, but that’s it.

Without the snazzy 3D effects, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with a lower score. Unfortunately, I Frankenstein is not the one film that can breathe life into or provide a refreshing take on Frankenstein’s story. I, Frankenstein is not worth the price of a theater ticket. Just wait for the DVD and Blu-Ray releases for a rental, or you can wait for I, Frankenstein’s inevitable two or four pack (a pairing with Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing sounds like an ideal release for the two pack)  DVD releases. Or you can wait for the non stop marathons on FX or TNT next year, but don’t waste a trip to the theater on I, Frankenstein.

Rating: 2/10

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