In the course of a permanent head-to-head competition between Good and Evil, I expect to see some indication of crucial difference in thought, word and action between the two opposing forces. The fundamental ethical differences between demons and gargoyles is, in this film, fairly muddled. That muddled opposition leaves no clearly-recognizable razor’s edge for the title character to tread heroically upon.
Bill Nighy plays an eminently-evil prince of darkness quite brilliantly. Miranda Otto performs her part with equal skill, despite having a lot less screen time, and the burden of delivering preposterous lines of exposition with such persuasive aplomb that the junk she’s stuck with explaining seems remarkably plausible.
The film doesn’t work in spite of the excellent acting talent, the impresive practical make up for the demons and the surprisingly-believable digital effects that let gargoyles fly. The film doesn’t work because the story is fundamentally flawed in ways that prevent “Adam” Frankenstein from showing us the evolution of an outcast, downtrodden, feral monster into an heroic creature with oversized soul. And the success of the film depends upon that demonstration.
It’s an ambitious undertaking that Van Helsing, in my opinion, negotiated extremely well. I, Frankenstein, on the other hand missed, whiffed and fucked up an exquisite opportunity to transform a bunch of really-great ideas into a transnarrative masterpiece. It’s not about the people portrayed in the film, no matter how hard the actors worked to strike the appropriate tones. I, Frankenstein panders to an audience that recognizes nonsense and avoids it like plague.
Adam and Viktor are like Isaac and Abraham in reversed roles, with no divine reprieve for the Creator — but that’s only the first of a vast number of interesting places that film might have gone instead of the complicated muddle that follows the previously-on voice-over narration from the team that brought us the Underworld franchise I’ve studiously avoided (like plague).
I don’t know, maybe this era is the twilight of cinema. Outlander is compelling television, and Words and Pictures kicked my butt. They have in common liberal sprinklings of adult repartee, adult sex and adult humor, attributes completely missing from I, Frankenstein and everything I’ve seen that relates however remotely to Christopher Nolan.