Monday, January 27, 2014
I saw Frankenstein...
I saw Frankenstein..."I, Frankenstein," I dare say; based on the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name (which alas, I've not had the opportunity to read). The film version is directed (and co-authored) by genre favorite, Stuart Beattie ("Pirates of the Carribean", "G.I. Joe", "Thirty Days of Night"). In that the Frankenstein Monster is my most beloved among classic literary and cinematic creatures, and that this particular story revolves around monster interactions, I felt obliged to offer a few words on it.
Aaron Eckhart, who gained considerably fame among imagi-movie buffs as Harvey Dent/Two Face in the Batman epic, "The Dark Knight", plays the Frankenstein Monster. Like Two Face, this particular Frankenstein has one side of his face predominately marred, but not to the drastic extent of Dent. In fact, his meandering scars are basically subtle and have evidently grown steadily inconspicuous over time. On this basis, even with what scarring remains, one gets the impression that women wouldn't be adverse to him, whether Elsa Lanchester's Bride or othewise. (He actually does have a lady friend in the movie, for what it's worth, compassionately portrayed by "Dexter'"s Yvonne Strahovski, but thankfully their relationship never plunges into unnecessary mush to bog down the story.)
This Frankenstein also goes by the first name, Adam, and why not? It was appropriate enough for Robert Rodan's Frankenstein-inspired monster on "Dark Shadows". Now that I think about it, Rodan's Adam was not that severely scarred either and did, in fact, have quite a female following among television viewers.
At any rate, Adam essentially keeps his distance from others (whether mortal or supernatural) early on in the plot. However, he eventually finds himself caught between two shape-shifting factions, the Christian-linked gargoyles and the selfish, hell-bent demons: both sides of which hold a keen interest in Adam's unique physiological constitution, hoping that through such, they may gain leverage in an age-old war. Though Adam initially reacts to the grand conflict apathetically, he learns a few important lessons about right and wrong along his arduous journey and ultimately embraces the gargoyles' holy pledge to hold humankind safe and secure.
Bill Nighy plays the demonic villain here and is damn good as such, but in truth with any role he's dealt (as we've surely witnessed with his Davey Jones portrayal in "Pirates..." and of course, as the ruthless "Underworld" vampire elder). Nonetheless, he plays off Eckhart's Frankenstein most effectively, and their exchanges are appropriately edgy (if not unfortunately too brief and few).
Actually, "I, Frankenstein" is admirably graced by many such fine performances, including those of action-film staples Miranda Otto ("Lord of the Rings", "War of the Worlds") and Jai Courtney ("Spartacus", "Die Hard V", "Jack Reacher"). The film's look and feel is distinctly reminiscent of the "Underworld" series: foreboding, moody and sleek.
I don't know if "I, Frankenstein" will spawn a cinematic franchise. (The snobs' gleeful assessment of the film's lackluster opening weekend seems to indicate it won't.) It really doesn't matter, though. "I, Frankenstein" might just as well stand as a solo, experimental essay on good-vs-evil, and as with any Frankenstein movie, it will be assuredly revised as the years pass, living long after many high-brow critics' flavors-of-the-month have dipped deservedly into obscurity.