I, ay, ay
Ludicrous I, Frankenstein is part of cultural death-spiral
Adam, the protagonist of I, Frankenstein, is “made of a dozen used parts from eight different corpses” and has no soul. I’m certain that countless critics the world over are using those facts to craft analogies poking fun at this highly derivative, shockingly bad movie. For that is what we do.
Normally, I’d do the same. I’d say something about it being a soulless, CGI monstrosity stitched together from should-be-dead movies like High-lander, Blade and The Matrix, and I’d hope you’d laugh, and I’d hope you’d like me.
The thought, though, of coming up with my own mocking metaphors is making me sleepy and weak. Because, really, my reaction to I, Frankenstein is simply sadness and fear. I’m sad and scared because an entire demographic of young people is growing up with absolute cultural garbage. They started, as adolescents, with “young adult” fantasy books, and everything seemed fine. Their parents were just happy that they were reading. But they didn’t transition. It turns out that those really big young-adult novels didn’t lead to increasingly sophisticated engagement with art. Instead, it was simply the gateway literature to a lifetime of “emotionally young-adult” crap about warlocks, vampires and goddamned gargoyles. Gargoyles? Really?
Maybe I’m just old, pretentious, grumpy. Maybe I’m just like my uncle, for whom rap was just a bunch of dumb talking and noise—while I was connecting with it in a way I knew he couldn’t understand. Maybe it’s all subjective; maybe it’s a generational thing; maybe I just don’t get it.
Yet, if I’m wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Let me give you, dear reader, a brief synopsis of what this movie is about.
It goes like this: As humans go about their usual business, there is, in fact, an invisible, centuries-old battle taking place between demons—toothy, flying, shape-shifting Star Trek-character-looking baddies led by the demon lord Naberius (played by the lord of overacting, Bill Nighy)—and the Gargoyle Order, a winged boy band of sexy, multiethnic crusaders for The Lord, led by the imperious high queen, Leonore. The warring parties parkour around a Gothic-looking city, mean-mugging each other and pelting one another cruelly with sticks.
Enter Adam (Aaron Eckhart), the sewn-together son of Dr. Frankenstein, who is “not human, nor demon, nor gargoyle.” Though his creator assembled him from eight corpses, he apparently took great care that the source carcasses were equally proportioned, hairless and hunky. Even his nipples match.
Adam “cares not for the world of men.” But will a growing attraction to “the world’s foremost electro-physiologist,” who is working on reanimating a mouse and who also happens to be a blond hottie, be enough to earn him a soul? And will Adam be able to stop Naberius, who plans on reanimating the thousands of dead bodies (each one outfitted—thankfully for the purposes of the final scene’s dramatic tension—with a digital display on his chest showing what percentage “reanimated” he is) he’s been stowing away in his underground lair?
Careful, parents, if your teen wants the answers to those questions, it might already be too late. This stuff is more dangerous than “the pot,” and more insidious, because it’s culturally accepted.