Q: What does Hollywood do to good writers? A: Bribes them to ignore their better story-telling senses.
How else can I explain what has become of Stuart Beattie, whose script for COLLATERAL is one of my favorites? Since then, he has written the titularly-prescient DERAILED, GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and now, I, FRANKENSTEIN, which he has directed, as well.
With COLLATERAL, Beattie used a genre film to explore meaningful thematic content with emotionally complex characters, even Tom Cruise’s warm-blooded hitman who, at first, comes across as a monster. In fact, the silver-haired killer is reminiscent of the creature Mary Shelley introduced in Frankenstein (the name of the doctor, let’s not forget). Both are misjudged killing machines who seem invincible yet are vulnerable due to their misunderstandings of mortality. Shelley’s Frankenstein is a brilliant condemnation of society’s struggles with scientific progress, provincial reasoning and compassion. Mr. Beattie’s reanimated patch-job is a true mutant, some hybrid of reluctant superhero and ridiculous leading man.
I have to believe Mr. Beattie read the same novel I did, yet the trailer for I, FRANKENSTEIN clearly exposes the venture as an exploitation of recognizably-branded intellectual property rather than an exploration of humanity through the eyes of the revivified and reviled.
Mary Shelley warned us of the dangers of imbuing life into the dead. Why oh why can’t Hollywood recognize the similar dangers of exhuming classic literature only to create some freakish spectacle?