Frankenstein (2015) **1/2
D: Bernard Rose
C: Xavier Samuel, Carrie-Anne Moss, Danny Huston, Tony Todd, Maya Erskine
Plot Synopsis: Set in present day Los Angeles and told entirely from the perspective of the Monster. After he is artificially created, then left for dead by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists, Adam is confronted with nothing but aggression and violence from the world around him. This perfect creation-turned disfigured monster must come to grips with the horrific nature of humanity.
Review: By now, we all know the story involving Frankenstein. A man (dubbed Adam) is created by a pair of scientists, but what they don't count on is that their creation, is a living, breathing person with genuine feelings and not just a scientific experiment, an experiment that goes awry when society reacts hostilely towards Adam.
In approaching this take on a classic novel, it would be easy to say that since it takes place in a modern day setting, in LA, that alone is what gives it relevancy, but it isn't. What gives Frankenstein power is that it's told from Adam's point of view.
We see how Adam was born innocent, yet is treated wrongly by the world that surrounds him. In affect, he becomes a monstrous creation not, because that's his disposition, but that's what society has shaped him to be. This version sees the tragedy in all of this, as it paints a picture that Adam isn't the monster we should be fearing, but that society is the monster itself. This makes for a riveting first half.
However, after establishing that society is the monster we should fear, we're stuck watching one repetitious scene after another of a world that mistreats Adam. They fail to develop the material beyond this. Eventually, they arrive at an arbitrary finale where Adam confronts his creators. The whole scenario is simplistic in that his creators want to put him down and that's about it (in terms of story). There's no real reason why this should've worked, but it does, because Xavier Samuel gives unexpected depth to the proceedings. He manages to take a few words and make it seem as though he's expressed a lifetime of thoughts.
Xavier Samuel is the glue that holds this together, even when the film runs out of momentum. Frankenstein has an idea and a train of thought, but it isn't nearly enough to sustain a feature length film. Watching and being able to feel Adam's moments of happiness, of learning, of anguish, of pain, of confusion, of companionship, of love, of horror are what gives this version a point of distinction and what you keeps you engaged even when the material begins to run thin. All of these emotions are tangibly brought to life by Xavier Samuel, who, in affect, is what gives this take, on the Frankenstein story, its life. [R] 89 mins.
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