Victor Frankenstein (2015) – Movie Review by Max Coulson

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4/10

Well that was certainly a film.  Relatively well paced, well acted…  it was a film.

The film starts with “You know this story. The crack if lightning. A mad genius. An unholy creation” and, yes, I do know that story.  But I also already know this story.  Beat for beat.  That isn’t to say that this movie rips off any other film that I know of – but this film is simply a collection of tropes and characters that I have seen a thousand times.

Now, I’m aware that screenwriter Max Landis published the script for this film online, though I have not read it.  Still, I know he wouldn’t do something like that were there not major elements left out or changed.  As such, the following is not really a criticism of the original intent of the screenplay and story (since I am ignorant of it), but simply of the final product.

With that in mind – since this was a different take on the Frankenstein mythos, could they not have focussed on something other than modern man’s hubris, and the overdone moral of “man should not play God!”

Look, I know that “don’t play God” is sorta the whole deal with Frankenstein but, after it being the primary trope in a good chunk of horror, sci-fi and action/adventure in multiple forms – can’t we just give it a fucking rest?

If this was aiming to be a more faithful adaptation of the book, then I could forgive the now cliche storyline – but it is anything but a faithful adaptation.  Hell, the main character in this movie is Igor, a character that wasn’t even in the book – so why keep the moral?

Okay, very mild spoilers from hereon (seriously, though – you already know it).

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Blue Ruin (2014) – Film Review by Max Coulson

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10/10

Wow.  Fucking…  wow!

I knew nothing about this film, going in – outside the fact that it was written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who also made this year’s Green Room (which I haven’t seen yet – but looks fucking awesome).  What I got was one of the best written films I’ve seen in a long time.

There’s almost no way to talk about this movie without some spoilers so, while I’ll avoid ruining anything major, I’m going to issue a minor spoiler warning from hereon.

The movie follows Dwight, a homeless man looking to exact revenge on Wade, the man who was jailed for killing his parents and, pretty early on, Dwight gets his revenge.  There isn’t a huge buildup, nor a massive fight.  He simply stabs him to death while he is going for a piss.

But, just as Dwight sought revenge for the death of his parents, Wade’s family seek revenge for the death of their brother.

Realising that his sister and her family are at risk, Dwight decides he has to take on the Cleland family by himself.

Now, if you’re thinking that this premise has Menahem Golan written all over it – you’re dead wrong, because this is anything but your standard revenge flick.  This movie does nothing to morally defend or condemn the actions of anybody involved.  There’s a certain Scorsese approach to the morality of vigilantism – that of just bypassing any morals and just showing you realistic consequences.

That said, Taxi Driver still portrayed vigilantism in a way that still made it seem cool, even if the vigilante did require some real psychiatric help.  Blue Ruin, however, does not give us a badass mohawk-sporting De Niro – nor does it give us such a clean-cut antagonist as greasy Harvey Keitel.

Dwight, as a character, is presented as being weak and emotionally scarred.  While he is clearly very intelligent and able to think on his feet, he has little plan at any point in the film, and fails as often (if not more) than he succeeds.

He is useless with a gun (even ones he hasn’t accidentally broken when trying to remove the gun lock), his attempts to patch himself up after being hit by an arrow fail miserably, and he spends the entire film trying to figure out ways of stopping the violence without killing any more people.

The Cleland family are far from nice characters, but they feel human and are never portrayed as needlessly sadistic or nastier than a gang family believably would be.  They’re also scared for each other, the same way Dwight is scared for his sister.

This film is smart, it keeps you guessing, and it does just about everything it can to stray away from the typical Hollywood formula – without hitting cliche from the other side.

I strongly recommend you check out Blue Ruin – but make sure you’re in the mood to watch something downbeat and depressing, because this film isn’t big on levity.