I, Frankenstein 3D Blu-ray Review
There are just so many things wrong with I, Frankenstein that it’s difficult to know where to start.Right from the outset the story seems more than prepared to lose droves of audience members with its ridiculous construction. “Story?” you ask, but this Underworld-inspired ret-con/reimagining of the classic Frankenstein tale goes out of its way to make what could have been a really simple story into something really, really contrived.
After loosely summarising the events of the book in its prologue, we find Frankenstein’s monster attacked by Vampires (demons) and saved by Gargoyles (angels) and asked to join their eternal quest to protect humanity from these demons. He’s in a bit of a mood so he says no. But he takes a couple of sacramental sticks with which he can practise the Filipino martial art of Kali (undoubtedly learned from watching old Seagal movies) and wanders off into the hills.
TWO HUNDRED YEARS LATER he changes his mind, and decides to become a demon hunter after all. So he relocates to Paris and gets a hair-cut. This film was much better when it was called Underworld and featured a PVC-clad Kate Beckinsale. Aaron Eckhart, teetering on the brink of Seagal territory with his feet dangling in DTV movies of late, takes himself far too seriously, and the likes of Miranda Otto and Jai Courtney must too wonder why they got involved with this monstrosity. Bill Nighy, of course, just assumed he was doing another Underworld movie. Unfortunately, something which could have been a silly, unpretentious romp through modern days, with two old immortal clans battling it out to save humanity (i.e. any Underworld movie), gets rendered inert by a hugely unnecessary backstory and far too much dialogue and exposition.
By the time demon hordes start erupting onto the screen you’re well and truly bored, and the CG-dominated flourishes of supposedly epic battle certainly don’t help keep your attention; the whole thing soon becoming some twisted, incoherent endurance test where you really don’t care what happens or who it happens to.
I, Frankenstein 3D Blu-ray Picture QualityThe muddied production of I, Frankenstein saw it pushed back over a year for release for a late-stage 3D conversion but that shouldn’t scare viewers too much, as decent – even very good – conversions are no longer the exceptions to the rule (Pacific Rim). Indeed, whilst far from a top-tier 3D demo disc, the movie looks remarkably good in 3D, and arguably – at times – it even enhances the admittedly shallow experience, at least from a purely visual standpoint.
The UK Region Free disc offers up the option of either watching the film in 2D or 3D, packed onto the same disc (there is no 2D-only alternative for this film), with the 2D getting a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation and the 3D variation sporting the now-standard 1080p/MVC encode.
3D might be something of a dying gimmick, but this films still somehow gets the usage right.
The 2D variation looks generally superb. Detail is unsurprisingly excellent, with close observation of facial textures, clothing weaves and background touches. There's absolutely no sign of any digital defects, excess DNR application or overt edge enhancement, although there are, strangely a couple of focal oddities that I would have assumed came from the 3D photography were it not for the fact that the film wasn't actually shot in 3D. Instead it appears these are just anomalies but, thankfully, after a couple of first act instances, I noticed no more problems over the entire duration.
The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, offering up a wealth of vivid, striking tones despite the rampant shadows and predominantly night-set sequences. Colours are rendered accurately and black levels are strong and rich, allowing for excellent shadow detail. With only those strange focal softness instances to note, this is a damn gone presentation that easily remains demo quality.
The 3D counterpart maintains these standards, albeit with that added dimension, and manages to provide a surprisingly competent 3D rendering in spite of the fact that the film is so steeped in shadows and darkness. Whilst textures and objects aren't given that wonderful full-roundedness that some of the best of the best 3D offerings have - particularly the natively-shot ones - they are far from the floating cardboard-cutout elements that they could have been. Images are framed well to allow plenty of depth into the picture and, obviously, the pure CG-rendered creatures benefit the most. 3D might be something of a dying gimmick, but this films still somehow gets the usage right.
I, Frankenstein 3D Blu-ray Sound QualityOn the aural front the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers an expectedly boisterous, bombastic offering replete with effects-driven slo-mo bonanzas set to unnecessarily invasive score elements. Still, at a technical level, the track is hard to levy criticism against. It may be a punchy, noisy affair but it generally delivers an undeniable amount of precision to marry up to its sheer volume, creating a tangibly immersive soundscape which seldom lets up for the duration.
Atmospheric action abounds in this technically proficient aural accompaniment.
Dialogue - and there's a surprising amount of it considering the relative flimsiness of the script - takes precedence, where necessary, across the fronts and centre channels. Effects are just capable of slinking in subtly from the surrounds or rears as they are of plunging down from the sky and pounding at you from above, with the incendiary demise of both angels and demons given a suitably distinctive rendering. The LFE chomps at the bit to get involved throughout and the results are frequently splendid, despite the fact that this simply is not enough to save the fallen flick.
I, Frankenstein 3D Blu-ray ExtrasHaven't had enough of the world of I, Frankenstein yet? Want more? Well here we get not one but two Audio Commentaries revelling in the production. The first has the co-writer/director talking mostly about the filming, whilst providing some on-set anecdotes. The second has a quartet of participants including creator/writer (and cameo actor) Kevin Grevioux, who adds a little interesting background about his ideas. Both sets of commentators, however, appear blinkered as to the difference between the movie that they wanted to make, and the end result that we get.
Two further quarter-hour Featurettes flesh out the production even more, one dedicated entirely to the CG effects and monstrous creations. The disc is rounded off by a number of Preview Trailers accessible only on start-up.
Is I, Frankenstein 3D Blu-ray Worth BuyingI, Frankenstein is an incoherent mess which foolishly goes for ‘contrived’ over ‘simple’, and takes itself far too seriously, making it hard to enjoy, even with so much unintentional hilarity going on throughout the piece. Really, you would probably enjoy this better by skipping the first 20 minutes of needless exposition and just watching the fighting but, even then, the CG-dominated PG-13 action is uninvolving and stops far too often to allow for yet further unnecessary dialogue and plotting.
I guess we should be grateful that the box office failure of this film means we won't be getting the Underworld crossover they were threatening.
Very good video - both 3D and 2D - as well as audio, along with a nice selection of extra features, leave this an easy purchase for fans of the film. Those who are merely fans of its ilk - i.e. Underworld - should be more wary. This is more Van Helsing standard, only without the fun. I, warned you.
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