Sci-Fi Fantasy sequel to the original Frankenstein by Shelley. Okay, do not put a high expectation upon this one. It’s sci-fi fantasy for God’s sake. Have some fun. I did. It’s the story of Frankenstein’s monster 200 years after the novel takes place. He is still alive in the present day because he is a creature in between the worlds of the living and the dead. He is alive but he has no soul. The unique and surprising and delightful twist is that it is ensconced within a Christian worldview of spiritual warfare between demons and angels for the future of mankind.
The story’s set up is an expansive alteration of the War in Heaven motif of the Bible. There is an order of angels between the archangels and earth who fight against the 666 legions of demon hordes who want to start a war to destroy all of mankind. Okay, pretty standard boring sameness. But the storytellers add an original twist that the angels are the Order of the Gargoyles. So they look frightening even though they are the good guys. This is actually based on the medieval notion that gargoyles were put on cathedrals not as demons but to scare away the demons. Not bad. To add to that, their symbol that makes their weapons “sacramental” and able to send demons to hell is what looks like a triple cross, a symbol, no doubt of the Trinity.
Now it is an incorrect tradition that we call the monster created by the doctor, “Frankenstein.” Frankenstein was the doctor’s name, not the monster’s. But a clever angle brought in is that, as the demon villain says, “We are all sons of our fathers. So denying who we are means we are lost.” Thus at the end of the film, we understand the meaning of the title, “I, Frankenstein.”
Frankenstein considers himself rejected by God and man because of his lack of a soul and that he was created by man instead of God. This is a thematic idea that returns in the story. Frankenstein wanders the earth with existential angst. This is a journey of identity, as the monster seeks to find out who he is while killing demons who are after him. And why are they after him? Because he holds the key to the ability of the villain to create an army of Frankenstein monsters to rule the world.
In the mean time, the Gargoyle order discovers him and also rejects him because they too consider him without a soul and rejected by his maker. But the awesome Queen of the order suspects not. She thinks that God has kept him alive for a higher purpose, and that “it is not for you or I to deny God’s purpose.” She also says that “all life is sacred,” so it would be wrong for the angels to kill him. Wow. A return to the Victorian theme that wrestles with the Christian God and the value of human life. (Whoops, they just slipped in a pagan twist by saying “all life” is sacred, not the Biblical version that “human life” is sacred. Of course, this is the premise of the idolatrous animal rights fascists and enviro-fascist crowd who deny human exceptionalism. Since “all life is sacred,” then we must allow human life to suffer by prohibiting economic activity in areas that contain “endangered” rodents, insects, and other examples of “all life.” Which means, when people say “all life is sacred” what they REALLY mean is that human life is dispensable because they will let humans die to save rodents and insects. The true haters. But I digress.)
Because the monster was never named by Frankenstein, the Queen gives him a new name: Adam, an obvious nod to the Biblical first man created by God. But again, they believe that he is not a human, angel, or demon, and therefore an uneasy tenuous relationship between Adam and the Angels.
Okay, I want to applaud this movie for using a Christian mythology as its worldview. That has become so rare in Hollywood these days that I am shocked whenever I see it attempted in a positive way. I believe the writer is a Christian, and I also know how much pressure there is on Christians to keep Jesus out of their Hollywood blockbusters. After all, we wouldn’t want to offend the small 20% of people who don’t like Jesus just for the 80% majority who basically do. Better to offend 80% by keeping him out of it (Hollywood logic).
About the best you can get is the Cross symbol and the fact that you are fighting on the side of the angels of heaven (Notably connected to the Biblical angels Michael and Gabriel). Unfortunately, as in I, Frankenstein, this all too often distorts the meaning of redemption into “being a good person.” As the love interest in the movie says, “You’re only a monster if you behave like one.”
In reality, we are all monster children of our father, the first and fallen Adam, and only by becoming children of the second Adam through faith, can we be redeemed of our badness. One of the few sci-fi fantasy movies that actually did a good job of embodying faith as the essence of redemption was “End of Days” with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But on the other hand, I can certainly see that this story could be seen as a Christ story using Frankenstein as the “Second Adam,” who was a unique being between two worlds (like Christ’s dual nature of God and man), resurrected, and in whom is the redemption of mankind. In that sense I embrace this mythos. It ain’t perfect but neither am I and neither are my stories. I like that.
On the down side, the entire premise of the movie falls apart because of some of the choices made in the logic of the story. Or should I say, “illogic.”
SPOILER TERRITORY: So, the whole scheme of the villain demon, Naberius is to use the scientific technology that Frankenstein discovered to create an army of undead to take over the world. The premise is that 1) Reanimated corpses like Frankenstein have no soul, 2) the demons sent to hell need bodies to be able to come back to inhabit so they can take over the world, 3) Demons cannot inhabit a body with a soul, so 4) they can inhabit the reanimated corpses because they have no soul.
Oh boy, what a mess. The problem is that Frankenstein ends up surprising the villain by having a soul, so he cannot be possessed! Frankenstein has discovered that God has given him a purpose of fighting these demons. Okay, fair enough. But then that means that the entire scene of demons entering the army of corpses at the end could not possibly work, even though it is shown as happening. Whoops. Unless I missed something about Frankenstein being special. I might very well have.
Secondly, the entire premise of a reanimated human life not having a soul is completely poor theology and dangerous. In the Bible, a “soul” is actually the Hebrew word for “breath.” The idea is that human life is spiritual or soulish. It was a gnostic Greek notion that the soul was the real essence of our identity that inhabits the body like a ghost in a machine. To the ancient Hebrew the body was as much our identity as our life or soulishness. They were inseparable. It is after all the body that God says he will resurrect! Secondly, the Bible is clear that demons possessed humans who clearly had souls. Not good.
But the most dangerous is this notion that created human life is without a soul is the very abominable justification for the social engineering of human life without rights. It was the basis of slavery and it is the basis of current debates about cloning. To own human life because man is in some way its “creator” (not actually true, if man starts with living organisms or DNA as he does in all genetics research). This is of course the justification for atrocities of all kinds, from slavery to holocaust. And it is the very issue undergirding modern genetic experimentation on human life.
But I have to say, I don’t damn this story for its silly illogical and unscientific premise about human souls. After all, sci-fi fantasy is not about reality, it is a metaphor for spiritual meaning. This movie tries to affirm Christian spiritual meaning by subverting the Frankenstein tradition with a spiritual warfare motif taken from the Bible and unfortunately diluted of the real essence of the Christian worldview: Faith and that other unique hybrid being considered the most vile monster of all in our secular world: Jesus Christ.