I went to see this movie having no expectations of grandeur. I am a science fiction fan, a movie fan, and a martial artist (of no particular caliber). Given all of this, it was a movie to see on a dreary, cold Saturday. For reasons that will be seen, I will do this review in reverse order over my typical movie reviews.
The plot is an average attempt to string together several unrelated themes. There are no great lines or speeches, and no insight, moral, morale, or otherwise. It is an action flick and nothing more. The acting is over-the-top, all across the board. But given the script, it was called for. No ill is intended toward the actors. The direction is much like the script. It does the job. It deserves high marks only because the director did what was expected and broke no rules. That said, he did not break any new ground. The same can be said for the editing, visual effects, and soundtrack.
I will add that there is a bit part of a bad guy crony geek that was cast purely as a nod to Boris Karloff. It was a fun little bit.
Cutting to the chase, I say it is worth the ticket, and the glasses, if you go with the same intent as I went – for a mindless moment of action entertainment.
Now to the heart of a few matters. First, what the script left out.
The plot is drawn from a Darkhorse graphic novel of the same name. Frankenstein’s monster lives. Like the Underworld franchise (it is from the same producers), there is a hidden war between Demons from Hell and Gargoyles, Heaven’s Guardians, that has been raging for centuries unseen by humanity. The Frankenstein monster, who takes the name Adam, becomes a key battle point.
I will not elaborate on the plot. I’ve said enough. The movie sends feeble, glancing blows on some points that could have made for great intellectual debate. If humans reanimate a being, especially one cobbled together from eight different bodies, does it have a soul? Are life and soul one in the same? Would the Christian god turn its back on a living being that does not have a soul? That seems antithetical to Christianity as I’ve come to understand it. If Demons are real, can they only inhabit soulless vessels, and if so, how did the first possession take place, especially if life and soul are one in the same? Hours and hours of turn and turnabout could have been had, if the script writer had dug deeper.
Now for the action. One of the reasons I went to see this was because I had been aware that Si-Fu Ron Balicki had worked with the majors, Aaron Eckhart and Socratis Otto, and others for the fight sequences. I wanted to see if any of the things I have seen from Si-Fu Balicki came shining through. I should have taken some sunglasses.
While the trailers featured Eckhart with large, full hand blades, he used these only briefly. Near the start of the film Adam is taken to some weapons room where he can pick as he will from a host of swords and battle axes. His choice? Two silver-clad batons, and a small palm knife. Batons you ask? Okay, Kali sticks of the one and one-half inch diameter variety. For the first real use of them, he stands on a cliff silhouetted by the rising sun and cuts a perfect Heaven Six followed by some fancy wrist limbering twirls. Okay folks, I worked for a long time to get Heaven Six down. I don’t care that you are 200-year-old monster-creation, you do not pick up two sticks and the next day throw the Six like that. But hey, that’s what movies are about.
You will see a host of other familiar Kali moves throughout the movie. Adam and the key Demon, Zuriel, exchange a nice double stick fight. These are not light sticks, but thick, heavy sticks, metal clad for Adam, all metal for Zuriel. There is little twirling finesse here. These are well orchestrated, heavy blows, including a classic double overhead Krabi Krabong. I was glad to see Kali executed in this strong strike manner. It was a different energy from what you normally experience during training. It is nice to see stuff I have trained up on the screen.
To close I will say again it is worth the view. Just do not expect any great takeaway.