I, Frankenstein (2014): A Patchwork Super Hero

Aaron Eckhart as Adam in I, Frankenstein
Quite an odd film I, Frankenstein, with its selling of the monster as a patchwork super hero, via this 2014 offering from Australia and the USA that feels like an amalgamation of the 2003 film Underworld. The presence of Bill Nighy along with Kevin Grevioux helps to reinforce this feeling. The fact that the theme is about a centuries long war between two powerful factions also makes the movie feel very similar to the Kate Beckinsale vehicle.

Starring Aaron Eckhart (Battle Los Angeles, The Dark Knight), Nighy, Miranda Ott (War of the Worlds, What Lies Beneath), Jai Courtney (Divergent, A Good Day to Die Hard), Grevioux, and a brilliant cameo by Mad Max alumni Bruce Spence, I, Frankenstein is directed and co-written by Stuart Beattie (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and begins with Frankenstein’s monster recounting his beginnings via voice-over by Eckhart.

As he relates the tale and brings the audience up to date, as it were, the presence of angels, sort of, and demons, are brought to light. The demons, headed up by Bill Nighy’s big bad, Naberius want to capture “Adam” as he is dubbed by the “gargoyle” clan of angels, and make more just like him.

The plan is to make these soul-less creatures vessels for a multitude of demons to occupy and then take over the earth. Miranda Ott’s gargoyle goodies, with bad-boy Gideon (Courtney) try to help Adam but he is having none of it and strikes out on his own.

Quite a long time passes before Adam comes back to civilization and when he does return life has moved on and gotten very sophisticated. Naberius aka Wessex has hired a couple of scientists to reanimate the dead, just like Victor Frankenstein, and he wants either Adam or the journal of his maker to help Terra Wade to be completely successful in her experiment.

Adam takes quite a fancy to Terra and fights not just the demons but the gargoyles as well. In the process he gains a soul, a little like a patchwork monstrous version of Pinocchio, and becomes a real big boy.

The film, with its Underworld feel, is entertaining and one of those popcorn munching treats that do not require much in the way of interpretation or message. Nighy’s demon is a variation of his Marcus the vampire leader just more villainous and without the massive wings. Grevioux still has the deepest voice of any actor in existence and sadly, he does not get to “Hulk out” till the end.

Eckhart is the draw here. He of the ruggedly macho, yet intelligent, voice kills the voice over and the actor manages to make his Frankenstein monster a perfect blend of abandoned rage and vulnerability. Jai Courtney does what he does best; which is act pretty snotty and pick on the hero, think Divergent here, and unlike his Jack McClane, son of John, has no chance for redemption.

It was nice to see Kiwi actor Bruce Spence, although one did expect him to break out his flying machine somewhere along the way.

This CG heavy film entertains despite the idea that by the end of I, Frankenstein that Adam is some sort of superhero watching out for all the mortals and fighting evil. There are enough action sequences and epic battles between demons, Adam and the gargoyles to keep things moving along and overall this is a fun film that takes an old classic tale and puts a spin on it.

Streaming on Netflix at the moment, I, Frankenstein is a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars and would have gotten 4 if there had been more Nighy.

Underworld: Awakening (2012) 3D RED Style

My daughter and I watched the latest instalment in the Underworld series/franchise last night. While the film itself is not going to win any awards for sticking to the ‘verse’ initially created by Wiseman and co, it does have the distinction of being the first 3D film shot entirely on the Sony Red Epic digital camera.

And as best as I could tell from watching the movie, it definitely did not suffer from being shot digitally. Having said that, we did only watch the 2D version as our telly isn’t 3D and we don’t have any of the special glasses either.

Underworld: Awakening is now among the growing number of films that are being shot digitally instead of ‘traditionally.’ If you Google the phrase RED you will find a plethora of references and websites all pertaining to the ‘new’ digital camera that is becoming a favourite among mainstream film makers.

If you look on Wikipedia, there is a long list of films that are due to be released this year and next that have used the Red camera to film them. It does appear that Sony is leading the list of ‘most used’ but, Cannon and a few other brands are creeping in there. *Link here – List of Films Shot on in Digital*

In most cases, it seems that the Red is being used in areas that are traditionally difficult to film with ‘traditional’ cameras and not the entire film. Until recently the only folks adventurous enough to use the Red for the entire process were the Independents.

Underworld: Awakening has proved that you can not only shot your entire project digitally, but it can also be used for the 3D process as well. A little ground breaking for sure.

Unfortunately that is the only thing that is ground breaking about Awakening. Directed by Måns MårlindBjörn Stein and with a screenplay written by Len Wiseman (with an addtional 7 credits listed on IMDb for writing, it seems to prove that too many cooks can spoil a broth) the only thing the film really has going for it is the return of Kate Beckinsale as lead character Selene.

The film strays quite far from the verse that Wiseman created over ten years ago with the original film. The story in a nutshell is that people have discovered the existence of the Vampires and Lycans and have set out to ‘cleanse’ them from the face of the earth. So far so good. But…

Michael and Selene get separated and when they reunite in an ambush both get captured and  put on ice (literally) for observation and experimentation. Once Selene escapes, (aided, she thinks, by Michael) the rest of the film deals with her trying to discover where Michael is and in the interim finding out that she has a daughter Eve (India Eisley).

India Eisley as Eve *Google Images*

Despite the ‘new technology’ used to shoot the film and added 3D, this film is never going to be a stand out from the other instalments. For one thing, it has been ten years since Kate Beckinsale got all corseted up as Selene the death dealer and it looks it.

I don’t mean in the face department, in that area Kate looks like she’s not aged a day. No, where the ten year gap shows is in the wire work and pistol shooting department. In the first two Underworld films, Kate did the wire work like a pro, smooth seamless and almost effortless. She also was one of the few folks in Hollywood who could squeeze off a multitude of blank rounds and never blink.

That has changed. Kate still doesn’t blink a whole lot, but, now she does blink and the wire work looked awkward and clumsy. Almost as clumsy as the patch-work plot.

It was a little sad to note that the only ‘older’ English actor they could seem to find to play a coven ‘elder’ was Charles Dance. I can only assume that the other older English cadre of Hollywood favourites were otherwise engaged or they thought that Bill Nighy‘s act was too hard to follow. I know that Derek Jacobi found the shadow cast by Nighy was difficult to overcome.

The film is worth a watch though, after all my moaning, just for Beckinsale and the young actress Eisley (the offspring of Olivia Hussey) who performs very well in her second feature film role. The other chap to watch for is Theo James as David. This man exuded buckets full of charisma, confidence and believability all in equal measure. An honourable mention also has to  be given to Michael Ealy as Detective Sebastian.

Michael Ealy as Detective Sebastian

If you don’t expect a film that is 100% faithful to the Underworld verse or don’t mind that things are introduced into the verse that are never explained, you won’t be too disappointed in the movie.

I feel that the directors and the crew got a bit too enamoured of the Red cameras and the 3D process to care about things that did not make sense. Sorry guys, but as nice as it was to see Kate Beckinsale as Selene again, that combined with your 3D did not make up for the films shortcomings.

A nice watch and definitely no more than a ‘one bagger.’