9 is computer animated children's movie, perhaps a little darker and scarier than many children's movies but otherwise not especially memorable. The visual design is interesting but the plot is mostly runaround and the character development is

Raggedy Andy: the Hunger Games years.

negligible. It does deal with some Frankensteinian themes (artificial intelligences, technology run amuck) but so do many sci-fi movies these days. What makes it interesting to me is a blink-and-you-miss it detail that moves the film from vaguely Frankensteinian to absolutely Frankensteinian.

9 (Elijah Wood) is a little humanoid robot, shaped like a rag doll. Immediately after his creation, his creator dies, leaving him in a little flat. 9 leaves the flat into a devastated world. There is no life anywhere to be seen, just destroyed buildings and the occasional corpse. In this world, he finds 2 (Martin Landau), another rag-doll creature, who has been searching for others of his kind. 2 is fascinated by a talisman hidden in 9's body. However, 2 is captured by a sort of robot monster and taken away to a sinister factory.

A kid's movie, folks

Nine finds his way to 2's home – a where more dolls live, ruled by the imperious and dogmatic 1 (Christopher Plummer). 1 forbids 9 from rescuing 2, but 9 convinces 5 (John C. Reilly) to come with him, and goes to the rescue. At the factory, they are joined by 7 (Jennifer Connelly), a warrior-woman ragdoll. 2 is briefly rescued, but 9 finds the place that the talisman fits, accidentally reawakening B.R.A.I.N., the AI that controls the factory. The dolls escape, but not before 2 is killed and his soul absorbed by B.R.A.I.N. ...continue reading "9 (Movie) (2009)"

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Let me start by saying that this wasn't completely awful. Maybe all the terrible reviews I read had the effect of managing my expectations, but bottom line is I didn't hate this movie. I assumed -- rightly -- that it would be a pretty standard action runnaround through CG effects, like so many big budget movies nowadays. In fact, there were a couple of genuinely creepy horror moments, which I honestly didn't expect. The decision to have the Mummy discovered in Iraq rather than Egypt makes not a lick of sense in terms of realism, but thematically 'America goes to Iraq, unleashes horror' is surprisingly close to the original Mummy idea of 'Britain goes to Egypt, unleashes horror.'

Honestly, if this was a one off Mummy movie, I'd say it was adequate, if not especially memorable. Yes, the ending is awful for a whole lot of reasons. Yes, the gender politics are even worse than most horror movies. Yes, if I were ranking movies I'd seen titled 'The Mummy' it would probably come in forth. Even so, if this is the worst movie I see this year, I'll consider myself lucky. ...continue reading "The Mummy (2017) Review"

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Last time we had a sort of general look at Metropolis, as it relates to early  Frankenstein cinema. It's a big subject, and honestly I'm not going to cover all of it even with a supplementary essay, but I did want a closer look at two things. Firstly, religious symbolism and secondly the role of women in Fritz Lang's Metropolis and James Whale's Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.

Can I get an amen?

The novel Frankenstein is fascinating in that it is full of conscious religious imagery, but contains little sign of God's actual presence. The Monster is compared frequently to both Adam and Satan. Both are creations that rebel against their creator, with the difference being that neither of them is a match for God. The Monster is a match for Frankenstein. This is why the various attempts to make Frankenstein into a Christian parable tend to be perfunctory. A story in which a being, angry at its creator is able to stand eye to eye with that creator is simply unprecedented in the Bible. Imagine if Job could just get tired of arguing with God and kick him in the shins. Completely different story.

This, ultimately, is the point of not only Frankenstein, but a huge chunk of the whole science fiction genre: how do we deal with the themes and ideas invoked by religion without invoking God? ...continue reading "Metropolis – 1927 (Part 2)"

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I usually like to give a fairly thorough synopsis of movies I review, but let's face it: this one is just too damned long. So short version: Joh Fredersen (Alfred Abel) is the leader and architect of a seemingly utopian art deco city. His son, Freder (Gustav Froehlich), is a feckless gadabout who does nothing but hang out in the pleasure gardens. When a woman named Maria (Brigette Helm) brings a group of grimy children into the garden, Freder learns for the first time that poverty exists.

That's very interesting, Professor, but I really wanted to talk to you about getting an extension for my assignment.

He goes in pursuit of Maria, and finds himself in the underground factories that drive the Metropolis. There he views an industrial accident, and has a vision of the vast machines as a temple to the demon Moloch, and the workers as sacrifices. Horrified, he confronts his father, who turns out to be perfectly aware of the appalling work conditions and content to keep things that way. He's more worried about mysterious plans turning up in his workers' clothes. ...continue reading "Metropolis – 1927"

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What did you say about my hair?

In medieval Prague, the learned Rabbi Löw (Albert Steinrück) predicts that the Jewish Ghetto will be threatened by the Emperor, who wants to drive out or kill the Jews. Sure enough, the Emperor (Otto Gebühr) gives just such a decree to his douchiest knight, Florian (Lothar Müthel). Florian takes the message to the Ghetto, falling in (requited) love with the Rabbi's daughter, Miriam (Lyda Salmonova).

Rabbi Löw builds a man out of clay. With the help of his assistant Famulus (Ernst Deutsch), he summons the dark spirit Astaroth, and force it to give them the magic word to animate the clay man. This word is placed in an amulet which is put around the neck of the clay man and it comes to life as the Golem (Paul Wegener). The Golem is clearly not happy at being ordered around and knocks Famulus over, but Löw discovers that he can deactivate the monster by removing its amulet. ...continue reading "The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920)"

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It this was Halloween makeup, I'd say it was good. As movie makeup... eh.
It this was Halloween makeup, I'd say it was good. As movie makeup... eh.

I'll just race through the synopsis of Frankenstein: Day of the Beast. quickly. This is because, while there's lots of running and screaming in this movie, not a lot actually happens. What does happen is pretty icky. Just thought I should warn you. On the other hand, it does give a nice jumping-on point to talk about the character of Elizabeth Lavenza.

Frankenstein is tracking the Monster through the snow with some soldiers. He is seen by the daughter of the old blind man. We have a little look into their family dramas, then the Monster kills them all, the daughter last of all. We see the dying daughter being stitched back together in a darkened room. ...continue reading "Frankenstein: Day of the Beast – 2011"

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This is a film that pitches Jackie Chan into a battle to the death with John Cusack.

I thought I'd put that out there to start with. Just so you don't get the idea that this movie isn't stupid. I mean, it's not impossible to imagine a Jackie Chan/John Cusack vehicle – some sort of cross cultural comedy, like Rush Hour, only funny. Chan and Cusack both got their start in eighties movies, maybe you could do a riff on that, only with the silliness of Chan's '80s HK action movie logic impeding on the silliness of Cusack's '80s US teen romance genre. Might be fun.

But no. Dragon Blade is not a fun movie. ...continue reading "Dragon Blade – Review"

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.A while back, I had a look at the Munsters in general. This time, I'm going to look at the Munster's only cinematic release, Munsters Go Home.

Death Race 200 it ain't.
Death Race 2000 it ain't.

The Munsters learn that Herman (Fred Gwynne) has inherited a valuable estate and a noble title from his adopted family in England. Lily (Yvonne de Carlo) later explains that Herman was adopted by the Munster family after leaving Dr Frankenstein's lab. They take passage on a steamer to England. Herman gets seasick the instant they leave port, Marilyn has a shipboard romance with a rich guy with an indeterminate accent (Robert Pine) and Grandpa accidentally turns himself into a wolf. ...continue reading "Munsters Go Home – 1966"

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I have to admit I'm not Harry Potter's biggest fan. I read the first few books of the series before losing interest somewhere about the fourth one. I've seen most of the movies, I think, but not on first release or even in order.

By the same token, I don't dislike the series as such. It's fun if you don't take it too seriously, and it's that element that element of fun that I enjoyed so much in Fantastic Beasts. It's an amusing story about crazy things happening just below the surface of our world. It makes a great deal less sense than the Potter films, in that all this takes place in New York rather than the English countryside where something odd might pass without notice, but just ignore that. Go in and expect some lush visuals and an enjoyably silly mix of whimsical Englishness and stilted old-timey New York and it's a decent film. ...continue reading "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Review"

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Frankenstein Island… Okay… Uh…

Yeah, what's up with that?
Yeah, what's up with that?

Synopsis! Yeah, maybe start with a synopsis. Ok, the balloonists from Mysterious Island land on the Island of Dr Moreau where they're met by Tarzan and the Leopard Women. Then they meet Sheila Frankenstein and her husband Dr van Helsing, who was the assistant of Dr Frankenstein, because WHAT?

This plastic Halloween devil pitchfork is actually supposed to be a high tech superweapon. No, really.
This plastic Halloween devil pitchfork is actually supposed to be a high tech superweapon. No, really.

...continue reading "Frankenstein Island – 1981"

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