Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I, Frankenstein (2014) Review:

Frankenstein's monster, also referred to as Frankenstein, is not a common name. He's been represented in media in a number of different ways. His most famous incarnation was the self titled Frankenstein (1931). Now imagine taking the classic tale and putting it on its head. Is it something that anyone asked for? No not really. It's like the difference between Lincoln (2012) and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012). This is only one of a few reasons why this movie just didn't work for a lot of viewers. Another reason is based on marketing. Its release was in January, which’s already a gamble. The starring actor was Aaron Eckhart, someone better known for playing supporting roles as of late. And lastly was the title - were they trying to get peoples' attention by making it read like Alex Proyas' I, Robot (2004) from a decade before? So just from this, it already seems clear to why this filmed failed to impress without even being viewed. But looking closer at it, it does provide some entertainment. Though it by no means is spectacular either.

The book of Dr. Victor Frankestein
Based off Underworld (2003) creator Kevin Grevioux's Darkstorm graphic novel of the same name, Aaron Eckhart plays Dr. Victor Frankenstein's creation, or Adam as he's later addressed. After taking it upon himself to live his own life, he learns there's a holy war being waged between Heaven and Hell for centuries over the human world. The factions are the Gargoyles, lead by Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) and the Demons lead by Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy). What Adam doesn't understand is that although he doesn't care which side wins, his creation is more significant than he thinks when determining the winner. Much of this is attained through self-discovery but also exposition. Along the way he also befriends a scientist named Terra (Yvonne Strahovski). Writing as a whole is solid in structure for its main characters, but not ground breaking anywhere else. Although he's not normally cast as a lead, Aaron Eckhart does give an enjoyable performance as Frankenstein's monster. More often than not, he's always frowning, but there is a reason for it so that's acceptable. Besides, he does develop in some respects anyway.

Watching Bill Nighy as Prince Naberius was satisfying. Although his presence is not as menacing as his portrayal of Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, he at least tries to be just as eccentric. Yvonne Strahovski as the scientist may not be very special, but she's not made into a cliched love interest either. Other than that, every other actor is forgettable. It's not to say their performance was bad, it's just that their character wasn't very crucial to the story line. For plot, the concept of an eternal war fighting for the control of the human world isn't unique at all. There are several films like this that rely on such a familiar rendition. With that are also a number of noticeable plot holes (some involving Adam) that don't entirely quite add up. For example, how is that this holy war has been going on and no human knows about it? Plus, the viewer isn't given a sense of setting to where this takes place. If a viewer is paying close attention it won't make much sense. Strikingly enough, the plot points that lead up to these plot holes are alluring in its mythology.

That grimace
When it came to action and special effects, it did entertain. It certainly felt like this film had a modest budget considering how flashy its effects were. Sadly, as much as the action entertained, it didn't feel as frequent as viewers might hope. Aaron Eckhart can sure fight - his best action scene was between him and one of Naberius' henchmen. That was intense. The infrequent action was more than likely due to director Stuart Beattie handling the project. Beattie is also a contributor behind the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Cinematography by Ross Emery was okay in some places, but majority of the picture remains in the same lighting. I'm not even sure there was one daylight scene longer than a minute. The music by duo composer group Reinhold Heil & Johnny Klimek sounded like they're improving. It’s confusing to why they didn't create a main theme for such a timeless character. They did however lighten up on screeching strings. This time, the string instruments used, tread on their notes to create tension, which is effective. Inside these action cues were vocals, strong brass and a bit of piano. Together, gave the story a tragic sound. This is respectable considering the story of Adam is tragic in its own way. It isn't the greatest adventure film, but it does have a fun factor.

Just by its title and look, it does seem like a waste. When in fact, that's not entirely true. Its writing isn't perfect or even close to being decent, but it does maintain a level of liveliness that should make it watchable. The action, music, special effects and Aaron Eckhart as the lead show the required effort that this picture deserves to be a slightly above average viewing.

Points Earned --> 6:10

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