Here we go again! Got another Duet for you guys! This one tackles a couple of recent DVD releases. Correction: one is recent and the other I thought was recent, yet I discovered it was released in May. Haha. But it works out because both of these movies address classic monsters, though one does a better job than the other. You can probably guess which without even reading this, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from continuing. 😉
Synopsis: “Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- The effects. There is no denying that this is a visually fun film. One scene in particular—a battle between warring demons and gargoyles—is pretty darn cool.
- Bill Nighy is in this! I’s forgotten he was in this, but his presence is always welcome. And he plays a villainous sort, which tends to be a good fit for him.
- Aaron Eckhart manages to be handsome even as Frankenstein’s monster. Does that count?
The Low Notes:
- It takes itself so seriously that it’s silly. All these dramatic voiceovers and characters who never crack a smile and intense fights…like, c’mon. This is a movie about Frankenstein’s monster and gargoyles and demons. The concept is completely ridiculous, and the fact that writer/director Stuart Beattie never acknowledges that is one of I, Frankenstein’s biggest downfalls.
- Nobody is very likable—not even the main character. We’re supposed to pity Frankenstein’s monster, but we never like or even know him well enough to pity him. We meet him as a brutal murderer, and he never truly redeems himself because he never seems to regret his actions. Plus, he has no personality. We’re supposed to automatically like this boring, scarred murderer because he’s a badass with a demon-killing weapon. Lazy writing to the max. It’s a shame because he could be an interesting character if some effort were put into it. But “effort” is not a word I’d apply to any aspect of this film outside the effects department.
- Literally nothing in this movie makes sense. I wish I were exaggerating. While I was watching, I wrote so many question marks that I felt like the damn Riddler.
The Staccato Version: Did you sense my struggle to write anything positive or remotely enthusiastic about this film? Because I think I strained a brain muscle trying to do that. Guys, this movie is dumb. I’m ashamed of myself for having it in my 20 Films of 2014. Try not to hold it against me—I was young and naïve! But hey, who knows? Maybe if you shut off an entire hemisphere of your brain and go in expecting something awful, you might manage to have a bit of fun with this. Because the effects are cool and Aaron Eckhart is pretty and Bill Nighy is Bill Nighy. But my advice would be to stay away.
My Grade: D-
Only Lovers Left Alive
Synopsis: “A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance—which has already endured several centuries—is disrupted by the arrival of an uncontrollable younger sister.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as vampire lovers Adam and Eve. Their chemistry is fantastic, and I love the contrast between the two characters. While Adam is depressed and angsty and unenthusiastic about much of anything, Eve is generally happy and passionate about almost everything. Even what they wear speaks volumes—Adam in dark colors and Eve in light. Great performances from both actors.
- All the nice touches. The way the vampires react to blood the way junkies react to drugs. How the vampires refer to humans as “zombies.” All of the art, literary, scientific, and historical references. The strong trio of supporting actors (John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, and Jeffrey Wright). There are lots of little things that give this film a very cool vibe.
- The somewhat unsettling yet pretty perfect ending. I wish I could talk about it without spoilers!
The Low Notes:
- Though Hiddleston does a great job in the role, Adam is so very melancholy that it’s sometimes kind of annoying. Pretty much all he does is mope, frown, sigh, and roll his eyes. There are occasional flickers of happiness when he’s with Eve, but those moments are few and far between.
- Eve’s little sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), is a pretty flat character. She is surprisingly, even ludicrously immature for a centuries-old vampire. Plus, she is so obviously the source of tension in this film that she might as well have “trouble” tattooed on her forehead.
- This film is very plot-lite. Seriously, hardly anything happens. Adam and Eve go on walks, mope, play instruments, drink blood, and drive around. For the first hour of the film, this is pretty much all that happens. Things get more interesting later, but even so, you might find yourself a little bored.
The Staccato Version: This is a very artsy film, and I think it’s great that writer/director Jim Jarmusch decided to try something like this with vampires. Hiddleston and Swinton give mesmerizing performances, and the supporting cast is solid, too. So there’s a lot in Only Lovers Left Alive to appreciate. That said, I found it more interesting than enjoyable. Does that make me sound super lowbrow? Probably. Fact is, I’m just not the artsy/intellectual film type, so I didn’t love it. But I’d rather watch this again than endure another round of I, Frankenstein, so at least I have that going for me. Hahaha.
My Grade: B