On the front lines of war, you NEVER drop your camera…

One of the better flicks of late, in a subgenre that should probably take a break, Frankenstein’s Army is another in the long line of found-footage films. While this one has a bit of a new angle, and many plusses in its favor, I can’t help wishing that the shaky cam would retire, collect social security, and make its way to Miami, where shaky viewers can cancel out the shaky footage. It genuinely adds nothing to this film.

As World War II is nearing its end, a group of Russian soldiers happen upon a secret laboratory, run by Nazi scientists that are using the journals of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, as blueprints for their latest experiments. They have created an army of “Zombots” (I should not have to tell you, but – zombie robots) in an attempt to carry out Hitler’s evil bidding.

Right up front (or as up front as it can be three paragraphs in), I want to be sure to mention the design of the Zombots, easily the best thing that Frankenstein’s Army has going for it. The steampunk meets third person shooter video game creatures that have been created are fantastically creative and fun. These combinations of fallen soldiers and leftover machinery parts are all terrifically realized and each outdoes the last. Once these guys start showing up in the 2nd act, the movie kicks into full gear and combines really well done practical effects and wonderfully strange visuals with a pretty gory gruesome gallop to the finish line. I also believe, although I could be mistaken, that I picked up on a reference to a movie that many parts of this one are clearly inspired by – Alien.

Frankenstein’s Army
Director
Richard Raaphorst
Cast
Karel Roden, Joshua Sasse, Robert Gwilym
Release Date
18 April, 2013
Influx Grade: C+

Richard Raaphorst’s direction shows a pretty twisted sense of humor, that is much-needed in a film like this. The multitude of set pieces in the latter half of the film, are filled with many great touches that might warrant a pause button, or second viewing to truly appreciate. The wit that he injects, however, is at odds with a script that seems to be taking itself just a bit too seriously. Fortunately, after the first, not too bad, half hour, humor wins out and we’re treated to a plethora of excellent visuals. For those of you who care (and you probably shouldn’t with a film like this), plot, depth, character development, and acting skill are virtually non-existent.


The biggest problem, however, is the afore-mentioned adoption of the overused found-footage style. While it is explained well, and somewhat creatively incorporated, you still can’t help but feel that, once the carnage kicks in, you’re missing out on many of the great visuals at hand, because the camera is being held by someone who is supposedly in as much danger as the subjects he is capturing on film. Granted, the reasoning for the found-footage aspect may be due to a limited (but quite well used) budget, so the visuals would be limited anyway, but it still feels as if the movie would have been better without it. I won’t even mention the fact that, while certainly possible, you can’t help but over think the fact that this is not only a found-footage film, but a found-footage film taking place during World War II. Nope, I won’t even mention it, so consider it unmentioned.

Jason’s Final Thoughts

Wittily directed, and featuring wildly creative creature designs, Frankenstein’s Army, is a film that feels a bit let down by a script that should have, perhaps, been given one more draft once the director plotted out his proceedings. Still, it’s definitely worth a watch for the Zombots alone and Richard Raaphorst is certainly a director to watch out for.

Review by Jason Howard, special to Influx Magazine

Follow Jason on twitter @Jason_Influx

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