Frankenstein is Back, this time with a hoody
After more than 200 years, Frankenstein’s monster is back. And he is wearing a hoody. And is name Adam.
This should stop you, the reader, right there. Months of online speculation and premature outrage have been fully realized, and it is wasted on yet another attempt for a film studio to resurrect a once beloved fictional character, add some flashy effects, slap a 3D conversion and pray for the best.
Spoiler Alert! Do not see this movie or you will spoil 92 minutes of your time.
We pick up the story at the conclusion of Mary Shelley’s gothic 1818 novel. The monster has escaped the attempted destruction at the hands of his creator, only to return and murder his master’s new bride. Pursuing his creation across the winter highlands, the mad scientist freezes to death and his body is buried in the Frankenstein family plot by his soulless monster.
At that moment, Mary Shelley’s classic novel is tossed into the fire, forever burned by this monstrosity of 21st century revisionism some may call a “movie,” but what I will refer to “neo-gothic dribble.”
Four film studios combined all their best brain power, spent months, possibly years, developing the story, hiring the writer, director, cast and crew and then proceeded to straight to the their collective accountants and exclaimed, “we have found this year’s tax write-off, and it is I, Frankenstein.” This is the only possible reason to produce a poorly conceptual piece of visual trash. It’s as if everybody involved in this project channeled their best Gene Wilder (as Victor Von Fronk-en-steen) and exclaimed “It…Might…work!”
Well, it didn’t work. It didn’t work when demons from hell descended on the monster in a graveyard. It didn’t work when a couple of gargoyles came to defend the monster against his demonic attackers. It didn’t work when the queen gargoyle named the monster Adam, he with the frosted hair in early 19th century Europe. It didn’t work when all the demons dressed in their best Armani suits can’t defend their secret hidden base.
For those keeping score:
Adam Frankenstein=Oooh, Smash, Good!
And when hell is breaking loose in this sizable, unnamed European city, with Demons fighting gargoyles in the skies above, middle age cathedrals and buildings collapsing all around, not one human comes out to investigate. OK, most of the action takes place between midnight and sunrise, so most of the urban locals are probably fast asleep and are used to a bit of noise. But this is in Dolby Surround Sound! Not even a distant werewolf howl.
The “cast” is led by Aaron Eckhart as the 200 year old monster, Adam (not deserving the name Frankenstein) and head Armani-suit Demon salesman Bill Nighy, as the Prince Bad Guy looking to create an army of soulless corpses to rule the world. You know, that old chestnut. Prince Demon-Bad Guy has been developing his mad plan we assume for thousands of years, yet he hires a beautiful young blond human scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) to fully realize his vision, because Demons were never that good in high school science, let alone electro-neurology.
Queen Gargoyle Leonore (Miranda Otto) is a pathetic leader, consistently manipulated by the long dormant, Internet-starved Adam. How she got to lead this dysfunctional group of stoned church decorations is anyone’s guess. Jai Courtney is Gideon, the Queens right-hand man (he is actually on her right most of the time, probably to show her best side as stipulated in her contract). This dude is just that; a dude consistently questioning the Queens’s plans throughout the entire flick. If she said “off with his head” after one of his whiney outbursts, it might have raised this monster mayhem up a notch.
The Frankenstein legend is referenced to the scientist, who dismisses it one minute, then does an abrupt 180 when Dr. Frankenstein’s original well-preserved one volume is produced, slightly smaller than the Mel Brooks prop. Yet, she remained skeptical of the biblical stories after witnessing the fiery death of a demon, yet oddly attracted to the well-built, handsome scarred undead being. If this was made at the time of the Boris Karloff classic, Clark Gable could of played the monster.
It probably will not matter, but I won’t spoil the ending. But a-not-so-sublime hint at a sequel was mentioned in the form of a companion for Adam. Too bad J.J. Abrams is busy, or some useless parallel moments can be conjured up for a return to the abysmal world. Not to worry, a sequel is probably not in the cards.
One disclaimer: I was raised on the Universal monster classics from the 1930’s, shown in constant reruns on TV in the 70’s & 80’s. To view the black & white masterpieces today, one has to rent a DVD from Netflix or the local library. Because of this, there is no frame of reference for the much desired 17-32 year old movie-ticket buying audiences This happened to the recent failed reboots of “The Lone Ranger” and “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” and will surely happen here. One can only hope the “Godzilla” reboot out later this year fares better.
If studios are clamoring for a decent Frankenstein franchise, may I suggest updating “Abbott & Costello Meets Frankenstein,” a clever combination of horror and comedy that inspired generations of filmmakers. Only this time, maybe update it for the 21st Century and call it “The Stoners Meet Frankenstein,’ starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. I can see it now. The film opens up in a Colorado Pot Dispensary located near an ornately large ski cabin owned by Victor Frankenstein’s great-great-great grandniece, played by Dame Judi Dench. Maybe bring in Jonah Hill to play Igor and Alec Baldwin as the monster. I see endless possibilities for this idea….