In a bold move that will likely cost me my Extra Special “You’re A Real Critic” Card, I am going to start this review by stating, for the record, that I enjoyed the Underworld movies. I enjoyed all four of them, and watched them all twice. I also enjoyed Van Helsing, and have seen it at least three times.
Were any of these films masterpieces? Nope. Nor did they present themselves as such. They were irreverent, dark action/fantasy films with a cool style, some sweet shots, good action, and some loveable characters (not that any of this prevented them from being drenched in the bile of most critics).
So, when a new Kevin Grevioux story came out in a similar style to those films, I was excited, to say the least. Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein’s monster seemed like fairly inspired casting, I was stoked to hear that Bill Nighy would be involved, and hell, it even has Miranda from Mass Effect. I mean, um, Yvonne something.
However, I’m gonna come right out, right now, and say that I, Frankenstein was, uh, not particularly good. Not even by my (clearly low) standards.
Normally I’d be content to let something suck in peace, but after skimming a few other reviews of this dull, meandering, childishly simple heap of pieced-together scraps, I noted that they primarily missed the things about this film that made it fun. I mean, stupid, but still fun.
I’ll try to list the most ridiculous things, in chronological order, for your amusement. Assume that when one of these things is not occurring, the film is being otherwise bleak, boring, and faceless, with a few nice (but wholly repetitive) action scenes.
First we’ll start off with the dialogue, which is probably the worst part and is technically the first thing to happen, while also being the last. This entire film is impregnated with dialogue that sounds like it was written by a fifteen-year-old boy who wanted all the characters to sound “totally badass,” which they don’t, instead primarily sounding like idiot fifteen-year-old boys. Expect a lot of that.
The premise is about gargoyles (which are totally just angels and could have just as easily been angels; probably would have been cheaper) vs. demons (proving that they could have been angels). The mistress goody-goody of the gargoyle team, in the span of about eight seconds, decides that Frankenstein’s monster needs and wants a name, comes to the conclusion that she deserves to be the person to give him one, and proceeds to start calling him by it. Literally, all of this happens at the same time. “Looks like you don’t have a name buddy, I’ll call you Adam, how’s that sound Adam?”
Leading to “Adam”s actually appearance. It’s stated explicitly in the film that the monster is formed from twelve pieces taken from eight separate people. Yet, aside from some random stitching across his face and body, he has absolutely no deformities and is perfectly symmetrical in every way. If only I had known that slapping together a pile of randomly-fresh corpses would come out looking exactly like Aaron Eckhart I probably would have taken up grave-digging long ago. Onward!
The very best part is Adam’s Escrima Sticks. When he’s taken to an armory of blessed weapons that can kill demons, he forgoes all of the swords, axes, spears, etc., and instead picks up a pair of cool Escrima Sticks. Ignoring the fact that Escrima is a weird-as-hell pick for someone not at all trained in any sort of martial art, he slips the sticks into his… jacket. Not into like, a loop or anything, or a pouch. Just… into his jacket. They vanish and don’t appear to have any amount of visible weight or bulk ever again.
He then spends the next two-hundred-and-some years training with them, without any sort of trainer or mentor, and no prior experience in their use. But apparently time trumps logic as he manages to become an Escrima master in this amount of time. When the main story begins, he shows that his ability to pull these rods into and out of reality quite frequently – he’ll fight with them, put them back into Hammerspace, claim he doesn’t have any weapons, use something else at random, lose that, pull the sticks back out, lose one, later have both again, etc. Schrödinger’s Escrima Sticks are probably the most entertaining and mysterious parts of this whole film, as they are utterly unexplained.
I should make mention of the special effects in this too. Some CGI effects, like the demons’ fiery deaths or the gargoyles’ blue nimbus of “ascension,” were actually pretty cool, and made otherwise adequate action scenes relatively fun to watch. However, the CGI used on the gargoyles themselves was hilariously bad, and even this was trumped by the makeup used on the demons, which was only slightly less realistic than the prosthetics used in Legend and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
A random demonic minion meets up with Adam and declares AN ESCRIMA BATTLE! Yes, unbeknownst to everyone, he too was an Escrima master, and the two of them have a completely random, totally unexplained Escrima fight scene that, while I laughed all the way through it, was actually adequately choreographed.
But seriously, an Escrima battle.
The entire finale is predicated on a previously mentioned comment that came to fruition with no development or warning. Bill Nighy only did the “-UH” thing once (nowhere near enough), there are only like three settings, the little unborn monster army have actual re-animation meters on them (what the hell?) and… um… what else….
Oh! And Yvonne Strahovski‘s butt is nowhere near as big as it was in Mass Effect. That was just really underwhelming.