I, FRANKENSTEIN ½
2014, PG-13, 92 mins.
2014, PG-13, 92 mins.
Aaron Eckhart as Adam / Yvonne Strahovski as Terra / Bill Nighy as Naberius / Jai Courtney as Gideon / Miranda Otto as Leonore / Aden Young as Dr. Frankenstein /
Directed by Stuart Beattie / Written by Kevin Grevioux and Stuart Beattie
Very few action fantasies have proved to be as aggressively forgettable as I, FRANKENSTEIN, which achieved the near impossible by boring me senseless within its first fifteen minutes.
don’t have any objections, per se, with filmmakers taking iconic works
of literature – in this case, Mary Shelly’s early 19th Century
creation – and re-imagining it in a refreshing new light.
Alas, I, FRANKENSTEIN is so mind-numbingly lacking in creativity
and so relentlessly dull in even basic execution that - even at an
already scant 92 minutes - the film feels like a grim, ludicrous, and flavorless
endurance test. Worse yet is the fact that great actors like Aaron Eckhart,
Bill Nighy, and Miranda Otto have their respective talents dragged down to
levels that are beneath them in the process.
loosely on the graphic novel of the same name (unread by me), I,
FRANKENSTEIN opens with the very familiar tale of Victor Frankenstein
(Aden Young) engaging in a God-like mission to reanimate the dead.
He produces a living being – via electricity – made out of
various body parts, but in attempting to destroy his creation he made his
situation even worse. The
creature (Eckhart) was perused by Frankenstein, but in the process the mad
doctor dies, leaving the monster relatively free to peruse what semblance
of a life that he could make for himself. For reasons never fully explained – as far as I can tell
– the monster (now dubbed Adam…oh, how clever!) emerges in moderns
times, looking pretty much the same way he did several centuries ago
(well, he cut off his 1800's grunge rocker-like do for a more contemporary looking
Adam can’t seem to live in total seclusion, as he becomes ensnared in an
ageless war between, yes, Gargoyles and Demons, both vying to use Adam for
their own purposes. The
Gargoyle queen Lenore (Otto) offers Adam sanctuary, which does not please
her right hand man, Gideon (Jai Courtney). As Adam begins to discover the vile secrets and motives
of the Demons (led by their prince, Naberius, played by the eye brow
raising Nighy), Adam decides that it’s time to take a side in the battle
while fending for himself. Naberious
hopes to create a vast army of undead soldiers using Victor’s
Frankenstein’s methods (granted, using 200-year-old science does not
make much sense), but he also makes use of a scientist, Terra (the
fetching Yvonne Strahovski) and her experiments to bring the dead back to
life. While all of this
occurs, Adam discovers the existence of his maker’s scientific diary
that explains, in detail, how he was created, which becomes a MacGuffin-like
device that everyone in the film wants.
Predictably, this leads to a climatic battle between Adam and the
Gargoyles versus the Demons.
I’m not really sure where to precisely begin with relaying just how wrongheaded I, FRANKENSTEIN is on most fundamental levels. Perhaps I should start with Frankenstein’s creature himself, and despite the fact that he’s made up of – by his own words – “a dozen used parts from eight different corpses” and he's well over two centuries old, Adam looks more like a physically chiseled and scar covered GQ cover model than he does a reprehensible creature cannibalized from other bodies (the years have been inexplicably good to him). Eckhart’s performance is depressing, seeing as he's forced to grunt, groan, and enunciate with a flat, monotone timbre that makes him come off as a person suffering from constipation. Considering the fact that he’s the title character, Adam is so lacking in even a scintilla of charm and charisma that you have to pinch and remind yourself that he’s the hero; there’s just nothing to emotionally latch on to here. In essence, he's a movie prop.
other performers fare no better. Miranda
Otta brings what semblance of class and dignity she can to her role, and
Bill Nighy perhaps seems like the only member of the cast that understands
that he’s in a truly preposterous film and plays things up for pure camp
value. Yvonne Strahovski is
astoundingly easy on the eyes and is a very decent actress to boot, but
her scientist role lacks credibility throughout.
As a staunch woman of science, she seems relatively unaffected by
the relative chaos that surrounds her throughout much of the film, nor
does she spend more than a fleeting moment doubting any of the particulars
of Adam’s heritage. When
Adam does make an appearance, Terra hysterically – and unintentionally so -
retorts, “So, the rumors are true!” Ouch.
film also rushes through its already murky and confusing mythology like
it’s on some sort time-dependant mission to gloss over what would have
been salient and cohesive elements. Most of the time, I was left scratching my head and asking
too many questions of this film’s half-baked and oftentimes senseless
storyline. How does Adam live
so long and look so good in the process?
How does he learn to become a martial arts and gravity defying
weapon of lethality? Who
trained him? The Gargoyles and Demons themselves can take human form, but
can then easily revert back to their monstrous facades, often in the
middle of the city, where they stage epic battles in the skies and
streets. Alas, where are the
other humans in this film? Why
hasn’t anyone noticed these supernatural creatures killing each other
and destroying countless buildings in the process?
Do news cameras, the Internet, or TV not exist in this film’s
universe to broadcast these extraordinary events?
Outside of the main characters in the film, I, FRANKENSTEIN is
laughably free of citizens that bare witness to this madness.
would also think that a film based on a graphic novel would at least
compensate by generating some visual interest in the film, but director
Stuart Beattie is more interested in perfunctory and generic CGI heavy
battles than with giving the film a tactile look and feel that it
desperately requires. When
Eckhart wildly swings away at the Demons they disintegrate into pixelized
flames and dust, which really becomes more monotonous the more it occurs.
The Gargoyles themselves – in their otherworldly forms – are
pretty shoddy looking and all maintain the same relative appearance in
their concrete covered bodies. For
the most part, I, FRANKENSTEIN looks like a preliminary version of what
was on an art director’s portfolio instead of a fully realized final
product. And as for the 3D? It
adds little to the film’s already dark palette, other than the fact that
it makes the film even more distractingly murky.
The idea of I, FRANKENSTEIN is kind of intriguing (what if Victor’s hellish creation lived on into the modern era?), but the screenplay offers up next-to-nothing in terms of commentary for how the pathetic and sad creation that is Adam would acclimatize himself to strange contemporary world. No dice. This film is more inclined to be an aggressively loud and nonsensical explosion of mindless sound and fury, and poor Eckhart has his good name and image as a solidly dependable and stalwart actor get overwhelmed by this maddening drivel in the process. If you want to have your senses mercilessly pummeled for an hour and a half by an incoherently and mindlessly constructed film, then I, FRANKENSTEIN is for you.