Thursday, July 10, 2014
A few days ago I finally watched--via DVD from Netflix--the recent film I, Frankenstein, which bombed so badly at the box office (and with critics) that Mary Shelley probably whirled in her tomb in Bournemouth. (Link to YouTube trailer.) (She would have whirled more if she'd seen the film!) IMDB says it took $65 million to make--and grossed only about $19 million. That ain't good. The Times called it a "solemn, ho-hum film" (24 Jan 2014).
I've seen many (most?) movies about Frankenstein and his creature--from the earliest silent film (1910--here's a link to the entire film, 12 min+, on YouTube) to the classic James Whale film (1931), to many of the many later versions--like Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966) and Frankenhooker (1990) and on and on and on. (I own many of them on VHS: That was a good investment.)
The first problem I had with I, Frankenstein (based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux--a publication that's not available right now--must have one!), is casting Aaron Eckhart as the creature (who acquires a name--Adam (duh)--in the film). Eckhart is one of those impossibly handsome men, and trying to make him look ugly (and large--the creature was eight feet tall in Mary Shelley's novel) was something the filmmakers couldn't quite handle. (And why did he do this film?!?!) It's a bit like casting, oh, Brad Pitt as Quasimodo.
Eckhart is a hot creature--six-pack glistening in some scenes (see below). An action hero, whirling around like a Ninja at times. (True, Mary Shelley's creature was agile and quick--unlike in most film portrayals--but an action hero? Who looks as if he's been spending major gym time the past two centuries?) Eckhart did do some significant training--as this interview reveals.
And then there was the script. At the outset, we get a glimpse of the original ending of Shelley's story (in the Arctic) but none of the ambivalence the creature feels in the novel for his creator; in the film, Adam hates Victor. In the two hundred years that have passed, Adam/Eckhart (who must have found the Fountain of Youth--maybe after reading "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment"?) now has a nice haircut, contemporary clothes (scars but no bolts-in-the-neck), but gets drawn into an apocalyptic war between the gargoyles (that fly from a massive cathedral to do battle) and the demons, who can be sent back to hell when struck with a weapon that's been blessed. Adam gets weapons, uses them with aplomb to dispatch lots of demons.
Demon #1 (no, not Satan) wants to capture Adam so he can make a bunch of other creatures (and have demons possess them); also in play--the original journal of Victor Frankenstein, which describes his experiments and creation in detail. So ... there are lots of winged gargoyles flying around, demons that hiss and sneer, a sexy woman scientist initially working for the Bad Guys, and the ever present questions: Does Adam have a soul? Will he join the Good Guys? Will the Bad Guys get his journal--and/or Adam himself? Will a bunch of bio-engineered Bad Guyd emerge to dominate the earth? Will Adam and the Sexy Scientist ... you know?
It's a horror film without any horror, really. Nothing scary--just battles and special effects and cgi and preposterousness. (Example: The gargoyles claim they hide on the church because they don't want ordinary people to know what's going on. But ... there are astonishing battles in the skies and the streets, and no one ever notices. Not one fire truck or cop car arrives to see what in the hell (!) is going on.)
That's because not much is going on in this awful film.