[img]http://www.covertr.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=47169&thumb=1&d=1395411592[/img]Releasing/Participating Studio(s): Lionsgate Films
Disc/Transfer Information: Region A; 50GB Blu-ray Disc 1080p High Definition 2.40:1 (Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1)
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Stuart Beattie
Starring Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux
You don’t need to zoom in on the Blu-ray cover accompanying Stuart Beattie’s I, Frankenstein and read the fine print to know this was made by the producers of Underworld – here’s a real visual CGI fest which hits you over the head and doesn’t let go for most of its running time, fusing elements of Van Helsing, Underworld and perhaps Twilight for a final product that was far better than the last film I reviewed, Tim Story’s Ride Along. Indeed, I, Frankenstein was a surprisingly fun ride, shocking me with outrageously choreographed fight sequences – better than anything The Amazing Spider-Man 2 conjured up actually – wildly graphic displays of quasi-expert CGI usage and a somewhat rousing performance from the lead in Aaron Eckhart…who I never otherwise would have pictured in a role like this. And the underlying notion in the narrative here – that is, what if centuries had passed and the creature known as the son of Doctor Frankenstein found his way to modern day society and merely blended in – actually worked and was effective; that was after I learned that the plot actually took place, mostly, in current day time frames.
Stuart Beattie takes the nearly ancient folk tale of “Frankenstein’s monster” and reinvents it for a modern day audience – though in this instance it worked where this tactic would usually fall flat on its fat face – throwing in for good measure a dollop of Thor and Clash of the Titans-like cheesiness, Van Helsing-like setpieces and story and over-the-top CGI work that depicts a war of gargoyles against demons. In this way, I, Frankenstein also smacked of Constantine, but without some of that film’s overtly heavy-handed and implausible graphic novel orientation. The story kicks off with Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Aden Young) of course concocting his pieced-together creation that becomes the stuff legends are made of, to the backdrop of Aaron Eckhart’s narration about the fate soon to befall all involved. It seems, according to this telling (and Eckhart’s narration), Dr. Frankenstein was appalled by his grotesque creation so he threw him out a window to drown, but the creature didn’t die and instead comes back to exact revenge in the form of killing Dr. Frankenstein’s new bride while she slept. In the midst of this, the gargoyle horde, led by their queen, Leonore (War of the Worlds’ Miranda Otto), pretend to be statues hanging off cathedrals but are actually warriors that fly around eventually coming into human form, entrenched deep in a battle for power with a demon legion lead by Naberius (Bill Nighy). The gargoyles take Frankenstein’s creature into their fold, seemingly to protect it and give it an identity – the queen names him “Adam” – but, as seen in films like Van Helsing, the creature’s destiny seems to be to live its own fulfilling “life” somehow.
What I, Frankenstein does quite haphazardly at times, though, is – though the filmmakers were working from the Darkstorm Studios graphic novel – borrow heavily from projects such as Van Helsing in that the story becomes about this demon prince Naberius attempting to “reanimate” dead demons through empty corpses that will somehow be brought back to life courtesy of Dr. Frankenstein’s formula…and all this takes place in modern day America. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit…
You see, because these legendary creatures are, of course, immortal across the board, it would only make sense that eventually they would be living in our world, in our time. And so, some 200 years pass and “Adam” finds himself, after escaping the confines of the gargoyles’ lair inside a cathedral, walking amongst us, the scarred facial marks the only clue that this isn’t an ordinary human being (though he just happens to find some stylish, trendy jeans and a hoodie sweatshirt to put on; funny to think this is “Frankenstein’s monster”…but as I said earlier, for whatever reason this just worked). We eventually meet the lovely blonde Terra (Yvonne Strahovski), a scientist working for Naberius but who doesn’t know of his true identity as a demon prince on reanimation technology – the ability to bring a deceased living thing back to life. If this sounds awfully familiar to what Dr. Frankenstein was always working on in all these legendary tales, you’d win a gold star – the difference here is that this Naberius has been waiting 200 years to obtain the journal of Dr. Frankenstein, which Adam holds on his person, so he can tap into the formula needed to reanimate some corpses that his dead demons can possess. In the interim, he uses the talents of Terra to conduct experiments on deceased rodents and the like as they attempt to perfect reanimation.
The gargoyles, meanwhile, urge their queen to continue considering killing Frankenstein’s monster because he’s not of human origin, notably Leonore’s second-in-command Gideon (Live Free or Die Hard’s Jai Courtney). “Adam” eventually makes his way to Naberius’ laboratory where Terra and her assistant scientist are working on coming to grips with their boss telling them the “Frankenstein” legend is actually true, with Adam eventually sneaking up behind Terra after she walks home from her train station once Naberius sends her home mysteriously. Adam forms a bond with the scientist, letting her in on the fact that her boss is actually a 200 year-old demon leader, what he has planned for the reanimated corpses and exactly how Naberius could use Dr. Frankenstein’s “technology” to pull it off…and yes, that would mean the end of mankind because demons would pretty much take over the world. The plot here gets a bit hokey and dips even further into silly Constantine territory, but the downright awesome fight sequences that follow and highlight the film more than make up for it.
Adam takes a stand with the gargoyles in a fierce battle against the demon hordes, the gargoyle creatures using their talons and claws to kill the unearthly demons while Frankenstein’s creation expertly wields some energy-infused pipes, or sticks, to quasi-electrify the demonic creatures. The fight sequences are taut, full of energy and will have you looking past the implausibility that a legendary creature has survived 200 years and is now fighting for the lives of mankind. Eckhart really worked here, even though you’d think he wouldn’t, though he wouldn’t have been my first choice to play a “modern day” Frankenstein’s monster; the CGI work, while sometimes rudimentary in application, was seamless in all the right places, making us believe something like this could be taking place above the skies of Earth. The way in which Eckhart’s “Adam” stands atop a roof at the very end, weapon sticks in hand, reminded me very much of the conclusion of Daredevil, especially with the character narrating his intentions to continue protecting humans…could this be the beginning of a franchise?
[img]http://www.gossipcop.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Screen-Shot-2013-10-05-at-9.33.03-AM-300x258.png[/img]VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?
Lionsgate presents I, Frankenstein in a remarkably clear 2.40:1 high def encode, let down only by some moments of inherent softness and annoying bits of noisy film grain-like elements in the background of certain scenes. For the most part, this is a brooding, dark film dealing with brooding, dark subject matter so the 1080p encode doesn’t really get a chance to open up and strut its stuff like if the material was bathed in sunlight and outdoor setpieces; however, detail was solid with lush, deep and inky blacks, accurate if sometimes cold skin tones, gritty and grimy realism and effectively/purposefully muted colors. The facial close-ups of characters showed the most detail, as did shots of wet cobblestone city streets which pulsated and glowed with realistic glitter – but there was an overhanging sense of softness and video noise injection in many of the sequences and this really brought the rating of the video quality down.
Still, this is no way really detracted from the I, Frankenstein experience – if you get engaged enough in the film, these elements will probably become part of the overall visual landscape to your brain.
Please note: I reviewed and sampled the 2D version of the film, not the 3D variant.
[img]http://media.salon.com/2014/01/Screen-Shot-2014-01-31-at-3.34.55-PM.png[/img]AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?
In my opinion, Lionsgate’s English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track accompanying the Blu-ray presentation of I, Frankenstein fared better than the video. This track delivered wallops of wall-shaking LFE, starting dynamics and an overall “mysterious” design that complemented the film perfectly. What do I mean by “mysterious design”? From time to time, the soundstage of this film would go quiet in many of the channels only to be suddenly cut through by sonic punches that really punctuated the soundfield – this provided and yielded a remarkable sense of depth in the auditory structure, injecting a somewhat “genuinely high resolution” characteristic difficult to put into words. But the overall heft of this mix, from his foreboding LFE signal always throbbing away in the background to its sometimes hyper-aggressive surround activity, was memorable…especially since most of the Master Audio tracks I’ve been sampling on more current Blu-ray releases have been somewhat disappointing.
Explosions blasted off with solid, rumbling thuds of LFE…gargoyle and demon attacks rushed aggressively into the surrounds to create an encompassing soundfield…dialogue was clearly and solidly locked in the center channel position. This was a first-rate audio experience that went beyond my expectations for the title given its kind of quick-out-of-the-theaters-and-into-the-home stature.
[img] http://timeinc.brightcove.com.edgesuite.net/rtmp_uds/463898949/201401/1322/463898949_3037267955001_11307-ftr-16296-still.jpg?pubId=463898949[/img]FINAL THOUGHTS:
From the production team that brought us the drop-dead-gorgeous Kate Beckinsale and Underworld, this was a pretty rousing, action-packed modern day take on the Frankenstein monster material. What would have made it better would have been a Halloween release; I can totally see sitting down with this during the scary film watching season, along with some other under-the-radar titles like Priest, Trick R Treat and Season of the Witch for a change of pace from the usual suspects like Poltergeist, The Amityville Horror, Friday the 13th, Van Helsing, Nightmare on Elm Street…while I don’t think this was quite purchase material, it made for a very fun rental and I can recommend it as such.