Forget everything you thought you knew about Frankenstein's monster. After delving into werewolves and vampires in the Underworld franchise, writer/actor/comic-writer Kevin Grevioux has concocted a new angle on this long misunderstood monster with I, Frankenstein, based on his comic of the same name. Stuart Beattie co-writes and directs this fantasy/sci-fi thriller that stars Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein's monster. Cast out of human society, he's a soulless wretch who unwittingly becomes the focal point of a holy war between divine gargoyles and evil demons.
Our theatrical review will weigh in on whether or not this new release is worth your time, while this column will focus solely on the film's use of 3D. Considering seven separate categories, To 3D Or Not To 3D evaluates the full scope of the 3D viewing experience. Think of it as a consumer's guide for your movie-going, complete with a viewers poll where you can weigh in on how you plan to see I, Frankenstein.
As an action-packed adventure that boasts exploding demons and gargantuan gargoyles that hurl themselves from high perches into the fray of battle, I, Frankenstein seems a great basis for 3D. However, its main locations--a dingy, vaguely European city--doesn't offer much in the way of grandeur that would be greatly enhanced by the device.
Planning & Effort Score
I was actually shocked to learn I, Frankenstein is a post-converted 3D feature because the 3D doesn't feel like an afterthought. Principal photography began in February of 2012, wrapping after ten weeks. A release was set for February 2013, but later was bumped when Lionsgate announced plans to make it a 3D release. And clearly the two-year delay on its release was well-used. Thanks to much of the film being reliant on green screen effects and CGI monsters and battle sequences, it doesn't look like that barely-there post-converted 3D. Though not shot with 3D in mind, the cinematography doesn't fight the device. So overall, it's getting a high score here, despite not being eyed for 3D from the start.
Before the Window Score
This is 3D's flashiest aspect, the one where it appears elements of the movie are reaching right out into the theater. Post converts tend to struggle with this. But as I, Frankenstein has a lot of CGI, things like snow, flame, and debris break through with ease. Plus it seems sometimes even the scars and protruded brow of Frankenstein's monster poke out a bit. Nothing earth-shattering, but there's decent use of this element.
Beyond the Window Score
On the other hand, this aspect is the one that seems to extend the world of the film deep into the screen. There are some locations in the aforementioned city that allow for worthwhile depth, like the cathedral headquarters of the gargoyles, or the cavernous laboratories of an aspiring Dr. Frankenstein. The moments this 3D aspect works best though are in the battle scenes, where demons and gargoyles are engaged in fiery fights on various planes. However, a fair amount of this movie is shot in close-up, and in those moments there's little depth to be had.
3D glasses make movies look dimmer. It's up to studios to adjust their color correct accordingly, so we're not left squinting to make out the action. I was worried for I, Frankenstein on this count because so much of the movie takes place at night. But to Lionsgate's credit, the movie is dark without being lost in its own nighttime hues, a tricky feat to be sure.
Glasses Off Score
This is an easy test to see how much 3D a given shot is giving you. Glasses off, see how much blur is onscreen. The more you see, the more the device is being employed. I ran this test throughout I, Frankenstein. As hinted above, wide shots of battle or the monster at large in the looming city make great use of the devise, as do fight scenes. But basically anytime we're in close-up, which is often, there's just not much depth to be squeezed out of those frames.
Audience Health Score
Bad 3D can actually be more than detrimental to your patience and wallet; it can be detrimental to your health, causing nausea or headaches. I did leave I, Frankenstein with the slight buzz of a headache. But more troublesome was a bizarre thing that's never happened to me in the 3D movie before. For just a second, my left eye went totally black, as if someone had covered it. Instinctively I blinked, and then immediately wondered what had happened. It was just my left eye. Afterwards, I consulted with other audience members, and we had all experienced the same left-eye blackout, suggesting it was an issue with the movie's 3D. It was more jarring to some than others. But seemed worth noting, in case you--like me--immediately imagine the worse in such moments, like "I have a tumor."
3D SCORES RECAP
P & E
Before The Window
Beyond The Window
Glasses Off Test
Final Verdict: All in all, I, Frankenstein's 3D is decent. It definitely adds oomph to the fight sequences, throwing flames in your face while making the skies look like a vast battlefield of the supernatural. One noteworthy use comes in a pair of shots, one low angle of the monster walking along an alley, while high above the rooftops that tower over him are gargoyles in flight. Then there's the reverse, where we're above them, looking down on this lone man. These moments sing in 3D, but in non-action moments the 3D is pretty useless or at least ineffectual. I, Frankenstein's 3D is far better than a postconvert has any right to be, but it's by no means must-see 3D.
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Staff writer at CinemaBlend.
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