Studio: Lakeshore Entertainment
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Stuart Beattie
Review Rating: 8
Two hundred years after the story of his necromantic creation, Frankenstein’s Monster emerges from hiding to do battle with demons, aided by holy gargoyles!
There are two things to be warned about this film before you go see it. First, that it was made by the same people who did the Underworld series, and even stars mainstay Bill Nighy as a bad guy, so basically expect plot to be often sacrificed for astounding CGI fight scenes. And second, since the film was based on a graphic novel that was written by another UW mainstay, Kevin Grevioux (who of course has a role in this film too), expect it to be exactly that – a film adaptation of a comic book. Bearing these things in mind, off we go!
So, long, long ago, Victor Frankenstein risked it all in moments of madness and scientific genius, to bring life to a dead creature of amalgamated parts. But then it all went wrong, and when Victor refused to make a female companion for the Monster he created (Aaron Eckhart), the Monster retaliated by killing Victor’s wife Elizabeth and causing a final showdown with Frankenstein himself. Sort of.
Here, when the Monster is burying his creator along with his laboratory notes, these crazy shape-shifting demons appear and engage him in battle. He is saved by live gargoyles Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey). Wait … demons? Gargoyles? What? The Monster is taken before the gargoyle Queen Lenore (Miranda Otto), who names him Adam. She attempts to explain what’s going on and tries to get him to join her cause. The commander of the gargoyle soldiers, Gideon (Jai Courtney), has other ideas, though, so Adam decides to make his own way through the tangled situation.
In the ensuing decades, a demon prince known as Naberius (Bill Nighy) comes to Earth in the form of mad scientist Charles Wessex to discover the secrets of reanimating dead flesh. He’s got Big Plans and he needs Frankenstein’s laboratory notes to achieve them. Add a pretty scientist in Wessex’s employ, more demons and gargoyles, and some Hell Hounds into the mix, and things get really exciting!
The fight scenes are actually pretty good, if not CGI’d to Hell and back. One doesn’t generally consider Eckhart to be a fighting badass, but then again, consider the whole Dark Knight role, and the role of the likes of Benjamin Walker in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, and poof, we have a scarred star! We already knew Bill Nighy does just fine as a funny-looking villain, this time is no exception, though I wish the movie had him ranting a bit more.
Jai Courtney was already clearly established as an action star, with Spartacus, A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher, and soon to be Kyle Reese in the new Terminator movies, under his belt. However, seeing him flying about as a gargoyle, which I am a huge fan of, is super-duper awesome. And Strahovski already played the girlfriend of a monster in Dexter, so this role is right up her alley. Miranda Otto as the gargoyle Queen Lenore is amazing too, they saved a great deal of the best CGI (standing still anyway) just for her. Yes, there are plenty of story inconsistencies – how does no one in this nameless city realize that the cathedral at the center has live flying gargoyles protecting it, for example. But the fight scenes, the bad-assery, and even the very basic story (Frankenstein’s Monster and holy gargoyles vs. demons, how cool is that?!) make for an entirely unique take on an old Shelley classic.