Director: Stuart Beattie
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney
Written by: Stuart Beattie, (also story and Darkstorm Studios Graphic Novel) Kevin Grevioux and (based on characters created by) Mary Shelley
Running Time: 92 mins
Release date: 29th January 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, may I present to you, for your viewing pleasure, this year’s first official, total stinker! Yes, just as the month of January is coming to an end and we’ve had some pretty close calls, we finally get our first big time turkey. A walloping mess of a film that lacks just that one thing to make it an ultimate turkey…a sense of humour!
Victor Frankenstein is dead after trying to kill his creation. While burying the man who made him, the creature is attacked by demons and saved by gargoyles, who discover Victor’s scientific notes and become the protectors of the book. Move 200 years or so to the future and the continuing battle between demons, led by Prince Naberius and the gargoyles, with their leader, Leonore with the creature stuck in the middle. It soon becomes apparent the reason for the demons interest in the monster: Naberius wants to build an army of re-animated creatures. With the help of a beautiful scientist, Terra, the existence of Victor’s original notes becomes all-important for his plan to rule the world.
I am sure, because I haven’t read it, that the original source material, Kevin Grevioux’s Darkstorm Studio’s graphic novel, is an interesting and exciting read. The fact of the matter is that the film is neither interesting or exciting. It has all the bangs and whistles for a dumb blockbuster but absolutely no pizzazz! Just a stream of poorly constructed special effects to try to give the messy fight sequences some colour in a world of darkness.
It proudly boasts, “From The Producers of Underworld” and you can definitely see the connection. This is basically Underworld but without the vampires and werewolves and without Kate Beckinsdale in tight black latex! Another confused war between demons (passable) and Gargoyles? Yes, those concrete monsters on the top of churches come alive, take human forms, clothed like rejects from 300, and who fly around with clumping weapons to strike the devils, turning them into balls of fire. How anyone never noticed these expensive fireworks going off, we shall never know.
So the story lumbers around, going from one battle to another, in the deserpate hope of looking for some form of sense but they never find. This could have been a real blast. A tongue rammed into the cheek, a camp moment here or there, even a quip or a sharp one-liner would have helped but writer/director Stuart Beattie has removed any sense of fun that could have been, turning the whole thing into one long, po-faced bore. Everybody, and I mean everybody, is so damn serious! The lines, as clunky and clichéd as they are, are delivered like a Shakespearean sonnet! In your head, you are thinking “these guys think this is real!”
The effects are pretty low grade too. While it’s fine to cover the creatures with fire balls and shafts of light when they are disposed of, when the light show isn’t on, you get to see how terrible these creatures are. The demons look like masks left over from a Halloween party while the Gargoyles come off worse. Let’s just say the Gargoyles from Disney’s Hunchback Of Notre Dame were more realistic. Add to that a “brooding” score that plays constantly throughout the film and the annoyance level starts to rise. There isn’t a single scene where there isn’t the sound of some instrument playing morosely in the background.
The film possesses two outstanding actors who are literally wasted. Aaron Eckhart is a fine actor who has made some pretty impressive films in his career yet here, all beefed up, six-pack and all, as the creature, is dire. With a gruff voice that comes from his boots, he’s all frowns and squinting eyes and a monotone in his delivery that would make Judge Dredd proud.
Then there’s Bill Nighy. Nighy is the king of film stealing, even though he basically doesn’t often change his looks or, indeed, his delivery. Here he looks utterly bored and you get the impression that he’s there for the money as the evil Prince Naberius. He could have been all pantomime and over the top. Yet it’s a disappointment and the first time in which he hasn’t stolen the movie.
In a season of award-hunters and serious films, it would have been nice to have a pile of nonsense that could wash over you. Instead we get a pile of drivel that lacks anything close to originality and becomes tedious very quickly. If it had had a slight inject of humour, it would still have been bad but fun too. This is just plain bad! I, Frankenstein…do hear by say you are 2014’s first big turkey. You may kiss the bride!