Film review: I FRANKENSTEIN, from Built For Speed

Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein introduced the notion of the modern Prometheus and of man attempting to play God by fashioning a living being from the remnants of the dead. It explored themes such as the power and danger of science posed when combined with man’s hubris. Some scholars have also theorised that Dr. Frankenstein’s unnamed monster represents the anonymous working class who have been forged and oppressed by the machine age.  None of these weighty themes are even sniffed at, however, in the laughably silly cinema adaptation of Kevin Grevioux’s graphic novel I Frankenstein.  Instead, Frankenstein’s monster (Aaron Eckhart) has become a dynamic action hero who engages in extravagant martial arts battles with supernatural beasties.

Having dispatched his creator Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the monster finds himself under attack from pointy-eared demons whose leader, Prince Naberius (Bill Nigh), wants to use the monster as a guinea pig in an evil plot to reanimate a corpse army… that old chestnut.  Determined to stop Naberius are a race of benevolent and of course, good looking gargoyles led by Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto). In the midst of this supernatural war, the monster (now named Adam), having clearly watched too many Wolverine films, becomes a tough, sullen, misanthropic loner who only sides with the gargoyles because they seem slightly less keen than the demons to enslave or destroy him.  Adam’s monstrous heart begins to melt, however, when he spies the smoking-hot blonde neurobiologist Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) who has been press-ganged into Naberius’ sinister re-animation plot.

This noisy, lumbering, brain-dead monstrosity of a film would have been bad enough if it were unconnected to any literary source other than Grevioux’s graphic novel but the fact that it dares to link itself to a literary classic like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is inexcusable.  This film does for Frankenstein what Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter did for Abraham Lincoln and Vampires and what Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters did for Grimm’s Fairy tales.  To be fair, I Frankenstein isn’t quite as awful as Witch Hunters as the cast, appallingly wooden as they are, seem to be moderately enthusiastic about the material, something that couldn’t be said for Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in Witch Hunters.  Still, it’s sad to see the normally magnetic Bill Nighy display zero screen charisma and veteran Eckhart spout clichéd tough guy drivel. 

Like a third-rate imitation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the film descends into series of kung fu smack-downs between Eckhart and the demons.  Annoyingly, the  demons suffer from an appalling case of inconsistent toughness as one minute they’re flinging Eckhart through the air like a rag doll the next Eckhart’s slapping the piss out of them.

This film offers unintentional comic treats for local audiences as it was shot in Melbourne and features landmarks that have been hilariously rebadged; did you know you could catch a train from the National Gallery of Victoria.  Aside from the dubious use of Melbourne locations, the film seems to have been mostly shot in front of a green screen with some hideously cartoonish cgi including gargoyle and demon effects that are as clunky and unconvincing as the flying horse from A Winter’s Tale.

This film is aimed at teenage action junkies and those who would like Twilight if it ditched all the romantic mush but even that audience, will probably turn their nose up at this one.

Nick’s rating: *1/2

Genre: Fantasy/ action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Stuart Beattie.

Release date: 20thMar 2014

Running time:  92 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. 

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