Cineast Movie Previews: ‘I, Frankenstein,’ ‘Knights of Badassdom,’ ‘Gimme Shelter’

Going to the movies this weekend? Check out our Cineast previews first!

I, Frankenstein

Frankenstein is a great story that has proved a challenge to get onto the screen in any faithful way. James Whale’s Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein are classics because they treat Mary Shelley’s idea of a creature re-animated from chunks of dead flesh as a jumping-off point—and because they treat it all as a bit of a joke. I, Frankenstein, like Whale’s films, grabs only the parts of the Frankenstein book that it wants, but then makes the terrible mistake of taking itself very seriously. The result is similar to the recent Superman film: a ridiculous idea that is afraid to recognize its own ridiculousness. Not only that, but I, Frankenstein seems to once and for all acquiesce to the widespread fallacy that the name “Frankenstein” applies to the MONSTER as well as the doctor who created him. Shame!

Knights of Badassdom

Although Knights of Badassdom has no apparent connection to Judd Apatow, it certainly partakes of the Apatow school of comedy. Starring Steve Zahn, the film centers on the practice of LARP—that is, Live Action Role Playing—in which the fantasy role-playing games typically played by rolling dice and moving characters around on game boards are instead acted out on fields by people wearing costumes and trying to speak Elizabethan English. LARP, which is a real thing, is, as you can imagine, pretty ridiculous to watch, and generates a lot of humor in the film. (It also featured prominently in 2008’s Role Models, to similar comic effect.) The twist comes in Knights of Badassdom when the boys, through a bit of accidental black magic, summon a real-life witch who starts eviscerating geeks at every turn.

Gimme Shelter

Based on a true story, Gimme Shelter follows the young Agnes “Apple” Baily, played by Vanessa Hudgens. Agnes’ mother is a drug addict, and so Apple has grown up in a series of foster homes—her successful father, played by Brendan Frasier, has done nothing to help her. At 16, Apple becomes pregnant and, refusing to give up her child, she finds support in a group home for teen mothers. Whatever the motivations behind the making of this film, it is admirable for recognizing that “choice” sometimes means continuing a pregnancy, and for showcasing the institutions that support young people in making the reproductive decisions that are right for themselves.

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