Movie Review: I, Frankenstein

It’s been far too long, guys. Far too long.

I’ve neglected my blog for the past few weeks with things continuing to draw my attention away from WordsofWisTIM and I’m sorry. I’m more than three weeks behind on blog reading and there are so many films I’ve seen this year and not written about.

To try to make up for that, I’m going to challenge myself. I’m going to post each day for the next two weeks to the best of my abilities. Movie reviews, sports reports, sports features and a Movies in 2014 feature coming your way. I’m dusting off the pen and going mad crazy on the ink. I’m so excited to get back and I’ll try my hardest to never drift off again.

To begin my two week marathon, I’m starting with a film made in 2014 and I think I was one of maybe five people who wanted to see it: I, Frankenstein.

The trailer didn’t bore me. Dare I say I kinda wanted to see this in theaters, but I couldn’t. How could I? It looked like garbage and Jai Courtney, too and Aaron Eckhart? “Hopefully it’ll come out on Netflix,” I said. Well it did, so thanks Netflix.

I, Frankenstein’s 3% on Rotten Tomatoes is simply amazing. Sometimes I question how films make it look so easy. How do a bunch of people get together for a project and manage to fail so badly? That’s one of the questions that Hollywood still puzzles me with. Might have to blog about that sometime, maybe make a new series focusing on the questions Hollywood puzzles me with? I don’t know.

So the film opens with a Lionsgate logo. So far so good, I’ve enjoyed lots of their films.

Lakeshore Entertainment. The logo looks familiar. It’s a kid jumping off a dock into a lake.

SKE Films? Did someone just make that up?

Hopscotch. Hopscotch Features. Wow. Don’t even know how to respond to that. How can I take you seriously when you name yourself Hopscotch? When you read a production company name like that, you slowly close your eyes and sigh. Crap.

I knew it was going to be crap. I knew it before I started it, yet I still watched the darn thing anyway. What’s the matter with me? A few years ago, I’d just shut it off, but I’ve developed a need to finish what I start and now every cursed film that finds its way into my hands has been watched from beginning to end.

Five minutes in? Time for some exposition. The whole universe is laid out like a blueprint for a bystander who just wants to watch the construction process. Do I need to know all this? Do I really?

There’s a war between gargoyles and demons and blah, blah, blah. This was produced by the same guys who did the Underworld series so I should have expected it but I still cringe. Has anyone watched those films? There is so much exposition that there is no substantial time to develop character because we’re too busy learning about this fantasy universe.

It’s a plague that infects so many science fiction and fantasy worlds today. Simplify, simplify, simplify, that’s really all you need to do. For this film, they didn’t even have to do that. Director/writer Stuart Beattie cast Bill Nighy, the same guy who played the villain in Underworld and in every movie ever. Has Bill Nighy ever played a good guy? If I cared enough, I’d research that but I feel I can safely assume he hasn’t. I think he may have had a good guy role in the 2012 Total Recall remake, but it was more of a cameo than anything. He’s got the villainous voice and in no way am I saying he’s not a good actor but if you cast Bill Nighy in a movie, the audience can safely assume he’s a bad guy and that he’s trying to take over/destroy the world. Guess what? That’s what he’s doing in I, Frankenstein.

I never watched this and I knew that was where it was going. Anyone who has watched three of Nighy’s movies knew where this was going.

If Stuart Beattie, who wrote Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, wants to be lazy and toss the cast a scarce script, fine, but cut out all this set-up garbage. No one cares. We all know the weapons have to be anointed or something to kill demons/bad guys. We’ve seen enough vampire movies, demon movies and Underworld movies. We’re not dumb.

We all know that Frankenstein is supposed to be overly strong in this film. Frankenstein can’t be an action hero without inserting that clause. Don’t need reminded of that for five minutes.

Don’t need to know about the gargoyle/demon war. It’s evident there is one. They’re killing each other. That meets the requirements of the Oxford definition. I already know why because again, Bill Nighy is here, figure it out people. I know the when (forever…Nighy), the how (Nighy) and the where (everywhere…Nighy). This is all Nighy’s baggage. I got it, okay?! Geez. Move on.

Maybe I’m being unfair, saying Nighy asserts himself that much in a movie like this, but that’s how I felt and thought about this introduction. Just a total waste.

A film should never start with substantial exposition five minutes into the film. Ever. That’s a terrible way to start a film. Aside from being lethargic and unbearably uninviting, opening with exposition is akin to giving the audience the first draft of the script, unedited and unfiltered product scraped together and molded into a block of words on paper. Discolors the art of screenwriting, doesn’t it? A mind-blowing intro is an unfair expectation for almost any film, but expecting a plot extrapolation before reaching the double-digit minute mark is like being a fan of the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Cubs and Edmonton Oilers, the three teams that have the longest playoff/World Series droughts in their respective sports leagues. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Why does a crew willingly subject themselves to that? What purpose does it serve? If they’re trying to set up signs that say, “Turn back now. If you don’t, you’re about to go dumpster diving,” they’re doing a great job, but if they’re trying to make a theatrical presentation that makes millions and entertains audiences, they’re really off track.

Extended opening exposition is one of the cardinal sins in film-making, at least for me, and I, Frankenstein suffered greatly for continually throwing blueprints in my face.

Aaron Eckhardt isn’t a bad actor, only a bad decision-maker. The Dark Knight had some of the best acting of the decade and Eckhardt as Harvey Dent was part of that Christopher Nolan epic. He has the tools if he’s coached the right way and given the right part, but his reliance on substandard films such as this is a continual grievance for his fans. The focal point of the movie, Eckhardt commanded my attention at least but not my mind.

Eckhardt was asked to build a palace out of sand in an hour and a half and was given but three grains to start with. An unattainable goal only worsened by a lack of co-worker participation, Eckhardt’s voice grows graver and deeper as the film goes on, something I found ironic since everyone wants to bury him.

For a character that’s enshrined in the gothic world of fictional characters, Frankenstein is poorly written here. He’s a monster and he wants to be left alone. Surely there’s some complexity? Not I, Frankenstein. Every chance at proficiency is skipped over and standards were lowered as the film progressed. Some basic themes can be colored in, like loneliness and self-identity most of all, but the space is left blank. Frankenstein would have a self-identity problem. He can give hardcore death stares all he wants but he hates himself. Anyone in the same predicament would, no matter how confident they were in themselves and their own abilities before. You don’t wake up each day covered in scars, knowing you were created and hated by your creator and say, “Aw, it’s a glorious day. Time for me to get some Jimmy Dean breakfast!”

There are far more lessons and values that could have been covered but any drama or takeaways you might have expected from this are not arriving to the presentation. CGI and action sequences overshadow them. The character Frankenstein constitutes respect and I, Frankenstein does him no such thing.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an Empire)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for I, Frankenstein: 47.

A thoughtless venture, which I suppose is ironic considering the subject matter, I, Frankenstein is bad but not degenerative. The action starves and the plot is moot, but I still got a little fun out of this, bumping it from the low 40’s.

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2 thoughts on “Movie Review: I, Frankenstein

  1. Nostra says:

    Because this got so many negative reviews I decided not to watch it (plus I’m not big on vampire type movies). Nice breakdown of the film, it’s ok then that I didn’t watch it 🙂

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