Wednesday, March 5, 2014

That Old Time Religion

You call that a Monster?

Angels, demons, awesome fight sequences and dark, brooding, solitary characters.  Oh yeah, I groove on all that.  I didn’t mean to watch two movies that centered on these kinds of themes, but when I saw I, Frankenstein and Winter’s Tale back-to-back, that’s exactly what I accomplished.  It wasn’t the most perfect day ever, but as far as finding watchable and intriguing movies, this was a winning ticket.

I, Frankenstein features Aaron Eckhart as the Monster.  Despite an impressive scars, attempts to dehumanize him (other characters constantly call him “It”), and at least three scenes reflecting that people are shocked and horrified by his appearance, there’s very little monstrous about Eckhart.  It’s not like when De Niro donned the make-up twenty years ago, or even when Clancy Brown did it thirty years ago.

No, no.  This is an updated, last action hero-type version of the Monster.  The film starts where Mary
Now THIS is a monster!
Shelley’s book ends (sorta).  Dr. Frankenstein is dead, succumbed to the cold of the North Pole while tracking Adam.  Adam carries the body of his creator back to his family burial plot, only to be attacked by . . . wait for it . . . demons!  He manages to hold his own, but these are, after all, demons.  That’s when awesomeness happens.  Gargoyles save him.  Brought into being by the archangel Michael to fight against the demon hordes (666 legions, to be exact), these gargoyles do exactly what their non-sentient, stone-statue brethren were meant to accomplish: fight off evil.

The only thing that could have made the movie better was the inclusions of ninjas.

"Who is this man?  What sort of Devil is he?"
Fresh from that eye-candy, I dove into Winter’s Tale, which asks you to believe that an infant in Manhattan will grow up with his parents’ Irish accent, even though he was orphaned at birth.  Starting in 1916 Manhattan, I didn’t mind at all this conceit that let us hear Collin Farrell’s native voice as the talented thief/mechanic Peter Lake.  Nor did I mind seeing Russell Crowe in period costume as the evil demon Pearly, who runs a gang of the most organized crime syndicate ever conceived.  There were a couple of times I thought Crowe might break into song about being a French policeman, but alas, I mistaken.  Lake, wants to leave the gang, and Pearly decides he has to kill Lake for this (yeah, weak, but it’s the plot so work with me).  On the run from Pearly and his black-suited thugs, Lake manages an escape when he comes across a beautiful but mysterious white horse, which will be known as The Horse for the rest of the film.  He finds himself in the home of Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame), who is suffering from consumption (tuberculosis) and practically on death’s door, but tragically beautiful.  So, of course, they fall in love.

Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!
There are all kinds of problems and anomalies with the film, but the characters themselves are reasonably believable, the demons are suitably evil, and Will Smith makes a wonderful appearance as “the Judge”, or, in case you can’t guess Lucifer himself.  My wife pointed out that we now have Morgan Freeman as God and Will Smith as Satan, and what an awesome movie that would make.  So if you’re listening, Hollywood, I’ll pay to see it!

Apparently, I’m almost alone in my enjoyment of these two films.  This doesn’t surprise me.  For some reason, I have a real bias toward angel/demon themed films.  I’m one of the few people who has actually heard of, let alone seen, Gabriel.  I got a huge kick out of The Prophecy.  Angel Heart, Fallen even Constantine with its unfortunate inclusion of Keanu was more than watchable for me.

But that’s the warning to you.  As for me, I’m going to queue up Legion.

No comments:

Post a Comment