I, FRANKENSTEIN (October 9th)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
Occasionally I watch a movie that is almost universally disliked and I come away thinking 'that wasn't actually too bad'. Part of it is down to lowered expectations I guess. It can work the other way too when you are told that a movie is fantastic, over and over again. The hype can damage it – even if it's perfectly decent. One of the 'bad' movies that I've never had the (dis)pleasure of watching is Stuart Beattie's 'I, Frankenstein'. I remember holding off seeing it at the cinema as the trailer looked a bit generic and decided against seeing it on the big screen when the reviews started flooding in. Thing is, on paper, it has the ingredients to be a success. I like Aaron Eckhart and I love Yvonne Strahovsky. Director Stuart Beattie wrote 'Collateral', so he'll always have a special place in my heart – and also, it's a film about Frankenstein having punch ups with demons and stuff! Surely it can't be THAT bad!?
Well, it is. I knew about 30 seconds in that this wasn't going to be good. When you watch a film that's been made by a competent film-maker, you know you are in safe hands within the first few minutes usually. The opposite is true also. Choppy editing, wooden dialogue, super rushed expositionary narrative and zero connection with the characters or their situation. It's a really confused and rushed opening few minutes that leaves you a bit bemused. It almost felt as if this was the third episode of a mini-series and you were expected to know who's who and what is going on. Well, I didn't. This feeling of not really knowing what exactly what was going on was soon replaced by boredom and apathy.
Half the cast look as if they are bored too. Aaron Eckhart, who is a pretty decent actor, just looks rather disinterested for the entire movie. I don't blame him. When you are working from a script that gives you zero back story or depth or anything decent in the way of dialogue, you tend to go through the motions. Strahovsky does her best but again, the same applies. Bill Nighy is basically the same character he is in the Underworld franchise. As for Jai Courtney and Miranda Otto, I don't imagine they bother putting this on their resumes.
You'd be able to overlook some of this if the action was in any way enjoyable or gripping. But when you don't care about the characters and have no real sense of what the story is really about, it's just a load of noise. It doesn't even look particularly good either. With a budget of over $60m, you'd expect a bit better in terms of special effects. Also, that thing where demons get killed and they just turn into a load of fire – it looks cool the first time you see it, but once it's happened 800 times it begins to look like a computer game. The whole thing just feels lifeless and a bit of a drag. I also had no real sense of when or where it is set as all the action takes place in about three locations and we never really seen any humans apart from Strahovsky's scientist character and her colleague. Where is everyone else and why don't they seem to notice or care about their city being smashed up on a constant basis by gargoyles and demons? I think Strahovsky and Eckhart's characters are supposed to have some kind of chemistry or love interest but that's never really obvious – or important. The man who wrote the screenplay for this movie also wrote Collateral. I know I've mentioned that before but it's worth making the point again. It's like following up a Mozart symphony with a gorilla banging a tambourine.
If the film didn't take itself so seriously, you might be able to laugh along with some of it but there is nothing (intentionally) funny about I, Frankenstein. And when you compare it to some of the other Frankenstein inspired features out there, this sits right at the bottom of the pile. Mary Shelley would be spinning in her grave if she knew this thing existed.