Saturday, June 6, 2015

CR5FC Between Heaven and Hell

"You go talk to the Gargoyle Queen."

It is time to resurrect CR5FC. I am glad for the long break; indeed, I needed it. Now I'm ready to rejoin the wonderful world of film blogging.

Maybe it's appropriate that the first film I watched since creating this new blog was I, Frankenstein, a story about a dead dude stitched together trying to figure out who he is and what his purpose is, kinda like this blog.

Partly, I was inspired to watch it by Brandon's recent praise of Crystal Skull. His praise of Spielberg made me want to watch something trashy that was reviled by almost everyone. Because the only thing worse than the cynical hipster too cool for Spielberg is the cynical hipster who bravely defends I, Frankenstein. Alas, I am not that cynical hipster though I might play him on TV if we could get an At the Movies gig.

Mostly, I wanted to watch an action flick and I, Frankenstein was right there near the top of the Netflix suggestions. If I'd gone to a better video store, I might've watched a better movie.

I, Frankenstein definitely is not good. It's a bit of a slog at times and the plot is heavy with Important Things that are really very silly. After half an hour, I almost gave up on it and decided to write something dismissive about it. But then something happened. I kept watching. I found myself curious enough to want to know how this wreck of a film could have happened and I wanted to experience all of its parts. And as I kept watching I started being won over little by little.

The film is fascinating in its use and abuse of so much talent and money. The CGI Gargoyles and the practical effects Demons, the goofy death fires, the laboratories and bits of tech, the decent costume design and pretty decent fight choreography; it all adds up to a beguiling mytho-sci-punk aesthetic that is impressive in its excess. And even though I found the plot silly and the exposition drearily heavy-handed, I also kinda dug the fact that it was all explicitly theological, exploring what it means to be a Maybe Man, caught between Good and Evil, struggling to be a Soul. That this is done through clunky exposition and extravagantly excessive visual metaphor is in some ways, dare I say it, a bit charming in its very glaring imperfections.

Maybe I'm jaded by Marvel's slick products and weary of Whedonesque cleverness. It's a bit refreshing to see rough edges in this film that sticks so earnestly to exploring its central ideas. That the central idea is a cliche and no new ground is broken here is beside the point right now. Those things are true. And it's not at all a great or even a good film, but there are many little things worth praising in it. I think that anyone who worked on any crew on this picture has a right to be proud of it.

So, again, maybe I, Frankenstein is the perfect pick to start off this new attempt at blogging. Because overall it's a dud, but there's still plenty worth talking about, both good and bad. Because CR5FC was and is for celebrating motion pictures, the good ones and the bad ones, and for finding something worth writing about amid the trash, digging out the treasure and arguing over its worth. At its best, this wrestling with trash and treasure and most especially with each other makes us sharper and better. At its worst, it's always still a lot of fun. I'm glad to be back. Let's see how long this run lasts.

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