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Tag: Frankenstein

Morgan (2016)

We Have To Talk About Morgan

Morgan has the lofty ambition to mix the Frankenstein myth, corporate evil and love against all odds and therefore fails at all three. It takes some specific talent, one guesses, to fail at the third, but to be fair, the context of genetically engineered pedo-lesbian maternity contest has its hurdles. Poor Morgan (Anna Taylor-Jones, from The Witch, here given nothing much to do but looking hostile) looks like 15 but is a 5 year old artificial creation referred as “IT” by souless government drones, and everything goes wrong from there. Nothing like a bad use or pronouns to trigger disaster, see.

A compendium of annoying actors (Rose Leslie, anyone?) bickering on elegiac music, Morgan doesn’t bring anything to the experiment-going-haywire subgenre, even though it ticks most available boxes, from car chase to communion with nature, from return to the womb to a Terminator on hot pursuit (here played with rigid inflexibility by the unsufferable Kate Mara). Absurd editing pays its dues to absurd screenwriting, except in the Paul Giamatti death scene, but Mr Giamatti is better off dead in any role anyway.

“Just be yourself”, he tells IT at some point. As a psychiatrist, he might want to sort out his grammar first, but in a dialogue itself checking all possible boxes (“Open the door!”, what else?), it’s hardly salient. Also, it was one’s shock to realise that Michelle Yeoh had a hard time affecting a Mandarin accent, but it’s Michelle Yeoh so all is forgiven.

No, the only good thing about Morgan is IT feeling sad about Dr Kathy Grieff (sigh…). Not because she enucleated said doctor in the opening scene, mind you, but because she’s played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who’s a fearless actor. She was the only American actress to accept the titular role in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle when production was due in the United States and in a sense, she’s the American Huppert, only her career has been constricted by the puritanism and cowardice of the Hollywood system instead or blooming at the international level.

She’s by far the best element of the movie and she’s missing an eye, a trait shared with the director, the editor, the set designer and everyone else involved in that production, especially the one who came up with the idea of a finale mixing Ophelia and Friday the 13th. Long lives Jennifer Jason Leigh!

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Victor Frankenstein (2015)

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Two of Hearts

A superfluous origin story for Igor, Victor Frankenstein’s toy boy, this movie of sorts will definitely be best enjoyed by the rough trade, dungeon and S&M crowd. The only woman involved, a trapezist named Lorelei, a name which firmly establishes her in a fantasy realm, acts as a beard for an elderly gentleman who enjoys the company of men.

Like in a 40s movie, hunchback/clown Igor (Daniel Ratcliffe) hopelessly looks at her flying far above the dirty ground he’s confined to. Enters the titular character (James McAvoy), and the two men instantly spot each other. One thinks it is called doctordar. Oh, did one mention Igor is also a doctor? It takes one to know one, see. After a slowmo escape really worth watching to confirm what depths Hollywood is now fathoming after Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes, Victor initiates Igor against a pillar with a piercing toy. Their bond is sealed: Igor is now allowed to wear a harness and call Victor “Master”. Good dog.

But back to science and the essence of life and death. Frankenstein delivers a first presentation to the Royal Academy of Medicine, a strictly male club heralded by a blond twink in an astrakhan coat. it is a fiasco and the creature escapes, only to die of misconception. Free from such biological hurdles, the movie goes on. Victor’s father thinks he has made the wrong choice of life. Igor unfruitfully attempts to make out with a zombi baboon. This being shocking even by Victorian standards, the blond twink has him thrown in the Thames.

Victor and Sherlock share their nemesis: Andrew Scott (here Inspector Turpin, there Moriarty, cringe-inducing in both parts). Dialogue goes rhubarb rhurbarb rhubarb, as it is virtually impossible to make a Frankenstein movie without regurgitating at least part of Mary Shelley’s garbage about life and death, God-defying science and the true nature of soul, all things very cinematic. The two nevertheless engage in ethical debate while Turpin has his hand crushed by wheel works.

The second presentation, with the whole Royal Academy of Medicine contributing to the creation of a stronger creature, with two sets of lungs and two hearts, takes place in a tower atop a cliff. It even has a chain bridge for gothic effect. “The storm is upon us!”, urges Victor. Igor climbs up with his bare hands because he really, really needs Master to punish him. They look at each other in rapture. Igor suspects Victor’s attempt at creating a beefcake is rooted in the death of his elder, manlier brother. Victor flinches. “The storm is almost upon us!” he disgresses.

Not unlike in a submarine movie (this long, hard thing full of seamen), most of the dialogue is repeated twice. Last part of the process involves nipple clamps (“Lazarus forks” for the initiated) and a crew of steampunk extras acting busy. “Prometheus ascending!” screams Victor at the top of his lungs. Did one mention the storm is upon us?

The movie grand finale is indeed a s*** storm. Turpin barges in to kill the creature; even though he has a clear shot he keeps yelling “Get out of the way Frankenstein!”. Maybe spatial logic is not the director’s strong suit. There is a fire and a ninja fight; as an angelic choir rolls in all casualties have vanished but the creature. It ends with a letter saying one thing and its contrary. One can only hope Victor and Igor will move to Berlin, or maybe San Francisco, where they can play with beefcakes all they want. Hey, that would make for an interesting sequel!


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