HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: I, Frankenstein 3D
HTS Overall Score:80
I am going to start out this review by saying that “I, Frankenstein” is just a plain AWFUL movie. We’re talking “Van Helsing” level of bad, here. The problem is that it’s a movie that I ended up having an INSANELY fun time with, like 4.5/5 level of fun. It’s one of those movies where my buddies and I saw it in the theaters, were laughing the ENTIRE time at the writing, the acting, etc, but was also laughing hysterically at all the cheesy fun we were having. As a result, it gets a hybrid rating. I had to blend the 1.5/5 rating on the actual FILM, and the 4.5/5 rating in the entertainment factor. There’s several types of bad films. We have the tongue-in-cheek variety that are in NO WAY meant to be taken seriously, a la “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”. You know, the types of movies that are just so ludicrously over the top that you would need to visit a psych ward if you honestly believed that they were trying to be serious, and as a result you get an awesome cheesy mess. The other type of bad movie tries to take itself seriously and just fails MISERABLY. These films are usually the ones we truly consider “stinkers”. The funny thing is that we have a hybrid film right here. Just like “Van Helsing”, the acting, the scriptwriting, even the CGI, is bad, and the actors are completely dead serious in the delivery of their lines, but for some crazy reason the movie is brimming with fun.
It seems that Victor Frankenstein DID create his monster several centuries ago. However, in a fit of righteous rage for his treatment, the monster (Aaron Ekhart) kills Victor’s wife and escapes into the wilds. Filled with vengeance, Frankenstein sets out after the monster, but ends up dying of natural causes in the wilderness. The monster is not the only baddy in this universe, though. After burying Victor Frankenstein, our hero is set upon by a pair of demons only to be saved by a pair of gargoyles (yes, I said it, gargoyles), who take the monster back to their fortress. Now it seems there’s a war going on. Demons have been plaguing mankind ever since the Fall in Eden and the only protector of us puny humans is the Gargoyle Order, commissioned by God to be protectorates of Earth. Realizing the pure strength of Frankenstein’s monster, the Gargoyle queen, Leonore (Miranda Otto), begs the monster (dubbed Adam) to join the fight for good. She describes the plight of the humans and the shrinking ranks of the Gargoyle Order, and even trains Adam to fight better in order to “descend” demons to hell using weapons blessed with the gargoyle stamp of approval (not joking). Rejecting both sides, Adam takes a pair of 50 pound "blessed" escrima sticks and limps off into the wild so as not to be bothered by either side.
No matter how long someone hides, if a demon wants to find you, they will. After 200 years in the wilds the demon lord who commissioned the capture of Adam in the first place has found him once more. Flushing Adam back into civilized society, this demon lord Naberious (Billy Nighy), must protect the coven yet again…..errrrrrrrrrr, sorry wrong movie. Naberious is intent on getting to Adam, for Naberious wants the long sought after Journal of Victor Frankenstein. With that journal, he can create soulless monsters of his own that he can possess with descended demons and replenish his ranks in an effort to wipe out the Gargoyle Order. While Naberious may seem like the baddy here, the Gargoyle Order doesn’t trust Adam as far as they can throw him, and are willing to barter him away, or even destroy him, in order to protect the human race. With the help of an insanely, and improbably, gorgeous scientist in the form of Yvonne Strahovski, Adam has to find his purpose in life, survive the gargoyle/demon war and take down those who are hunting him.
You’re right, this sounds absolutely ridiculous, and it really is. The acting is cheesy, and you can tell they were trying to replicate the dark, serious feel of “Underworld”, even down to the black leather and brooding heroes. The problem is, the storyline is BEYOND ridiculous, and you even have Aaron Ekhart breaking the 4th wall with his insanely cheesy final speech at the end. The saving grace of the movie is expectations, and the wildly fun and humorous action sequences. While the acting is subpar, the CGI is only ok, and the characters are rehash of “Underworld” (I mean it feels like an “Underworld” cast reunion where I counted not less than 5 or 6 “Underworld” actors in the film, plus the screenplay was written by Kevin Grevioux, the giant werewolf dude from "Underworld" and the giant demon here), but the action sequences are a blast. I mean, who DOESN’T want to see Frankenstein’s monster use a couple of iron rods to beat demons senseless? We’re not talking a couple of sticks, we’re talking Iron rods about 2.5 feet long that probably weight 40 or 50 lbs each and are blessed by God. Throw in giant gargoyles with axes, spears, ninja weapons and the ability to fly. I mean, they didn't even bleed blood here! There was actual cheddar and monterey Jack cheese flowing from the wounds! Couple that with the fact that Bill Nighy just HAMS it up as Naberious and you have a winning combination. I love Bill Nighy; he’s one of my absolute favorite British actors working today and he makes anything better just by being in the movie, and it's no different here. He plays a character reminiscent of Victor from “Underworld” and just oozes over the top velveeta in his line deliveries and appears to be having an absolute blast with the role. Yvonne, is always a weak link acting wise, but then again, just like Kate was in “Underwold” and “Van Helsing” she isn't meant to. She’s the veritable eye candy.
I honestly doubted my sanity at the end of the movie, because every critical part of my being was screaming at the film, but I was still walking around with a big goofy grin and wondering where I can find some weapons with a gargoyle stamp on them. Director Stuart Beattie must have really enjoyed his work, for while he isn't a fantastic director, that sense of childish glee is present throughout. Beattie even steps in and plays the role of a demon in the film. On a side note, I have to admit that Aaron Ekhart got CUUUUUUUUUT for the role. For a man in his 40's he looked incredibly built. I certainly wouldn't want to go toe to toe with him in an alley, especially if he's wielding divine escrima stick.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=18418[/img]I like a pretty picture, and Lionsgate sure delivered the goods this time. The 2.40:1 AVC transfer is a beautiful transfer indeed, a transfer that only has one major flaw in it that keeps it from a perfect rating. The film is absolutely BATHED and saturated in deep shadows and utter blackness, much like the “Underworld” series. The film has a distinctly blue color grading, but nothing so over the top as the afore mentioned vampire films. Skin tones are nicely done, and contrasts look quite good. With so much darkness I was worried about the black levels a bit, but thankfully that fear was unfounded, as the blacks are just sickeningly deep and inky. Adam’s black trench coat absorbs light like a sponge and the bright orange flames of demons descending is offset nicely against all the shadows and blackness. You can see every stitch on his rotten corpse and every crease in his clothing. The only slight qualm I have with the film in regards to detail comes to the copious use of CGI. Within those scenes we lose a bit of detail due to the nature of the beast. Which finally brings me to the one major flaw in the picture quality that pulls it down from a 5/5 rating. Being shot digitally and with such copious black levels we fall pretty to one of the flaws of digital cinematography, Digital noise. While most of the film is clean and clear, there quite a few scenes that suffer from the effects of digital noise in the background, mainly the scenes that were in the dimly lit Gargoyle estate, but it does show up in the Nightclub scene and a few others as well. The minute the picture lightens up the digital noise vanishes so we can be pretty certain that it’s a fault of the cameras and the lighting rather than a compression issue.
As with "The Legend of Hercules", Lionsgate gives us a very nice, natural 3D image. There are no real cheesy pop out shots, but rather the film focuses on bringing the foreground, and a bit of the background to life. Shadows and smoke become three dimensional as well as characters pop offing the screen nicely. There's the occasional axe to the face shot that comes right out at you, but nothing that's going to scream "Look at me!!". As a result the film gives a nice sense of depth to it, that's only marred by some of the CGI scenes, where it's difficult to focus on the 3D aspect of the film.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=18426[/img]This is actually a surprise for me. Usually Lionsgate is the king of 7.1 tracks, I don’t think I’ve seen a major release in a VERY long time that didn’t come with a 7.1 DTS-HD MA track (even if the film wasn’t naturally recorded in 7.1). Instead we have the film’s original 5.1 track in DTS-HD MA. It’s not a knock on Lionsgate, as the film was originally a 5.1 track and had no original 7.1 mix, but rather just a surprise since they always seem to put out 7.1 tracks, no matter the source. The track for “I, Frankenstein” is just what you’d expect for a monster movie. Loud, aggressive, and a full 360 degree level of immersion. The track hits you like a ton of bricks and doesn’t stop pounding on you the whole hour and 32 minutes. The dialogue is nice and clean, well balanced with the rest of the tracks and the surrounds literally throb with power. “I, Frankenstein” is stunningly immersive as the surrounds are used in such large quantities that it’s not to feel at the center of a maelstrom. The sound of a demon descending to hell pulses from all directions, and even the simple sound of a nail scratching along the wall is beautifully replicated with pinpoint directionality. The LFE track is both good and mildly disappointing here. The good is due to the fact that it’s a very well done bass line. The track is well balanced and free from any bloat, there is a nice low end to the film that adds some serious weight and the sheer power of it flexes its muscles during the battle scenes. My only real complaint is more a personal one. With these monster movies, we’re used to overcooked bass that makes the walls tremble and a single foot step sound like a canon shot. Not so here, the track is conservative during the majority of the film and then pulls out the big guns when Frankenstein’s monster is pounding away at a demon horde, or a soul is descended. I know it’s kind of petty, but these films tend to get a certain “feel” from that overcooked bass, and the more accurate, restrained LFE channel sometimes felt a bit lacking when compared to what we’re used to.
• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Stuart Beattie
• Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, James McQuaid, and Kevin Grevioux
• "Creating a Monster" Featurette
• "Frankenstein's Creatures" Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
If you go in expecting a well-constructed action movie, or even a fun horror flick, prepare to be disappointed. If you like the over the top cheese of “Van Helsing” and looking for one of those ridiculous movies to MST3K the whole time, then you’ve got the right expectations. “I, Frankenstein” won’t be nominated for any awards, and is most definitely an awful movie on paper, but its loads of funs if you go in with the right expectations and are a fan of mindless action/sci-fi entertainment. The picture and audio are stunning and well worth the price of admission alone. Extras area bit sparse, but then again I don’t think many people are going to want to delve too deeply into this one, if you know what I mean. Definitely at least worth a watch for those of you who liked the previously mentioned films. I know I sure did.
Starring: Aaron Ekhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney
Directed by: Stuart Beattie
Written by: Stuart Beattie, Kevin Grevioux
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 93 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Buy I, Frankenstein 3D Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Give it a watch.
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