dir. Stuart Beattie
Release Date: Jan 24, 13
I, Frankenstein is a gangly, uneven beast of a movie, and that’s not supposed to be a punny commentary on its protagonist’s haphazardly assembled physical form. (A form mainly assembled out of Olympic athletes, apparently, but I digress.) It’s one of those movies like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which also came out in the middle of the early-year cinema doldrums, that seems to have been made incorrectly, or at least hastily, either edited to hell in post-production or slapped together with minimal engagement from all parties concerned. There aren’t many more ways to put it: I, Frankenstein is a really bad movie, and not in a way that’s campy or memorable or worth seeing in a theater.
Let’s start with the part where Frankenstein’s monster now has a name. It’s Adam (Aaron Eckhart), and the name is given to him(?) by Leonore (Miranda Otto), the leader of an underground legion of gargoyles who move in secret to protect the unwitting human race from the ages-old battle between gargoyle people and demons. Adam is caught in the middle, having wandered the earth in a bad hairpiece for centuries after the demise of his creator. Both sides want Adam, the gargoyles hoping to keep somebody so potentially dangerous in captivity and the demons hoping to create a clone army of Frankenstein’s monsters. Yes, seriously.
Adam also has a quasi-romantic interest in Terra (Yvonne Strahovski), a scientist working on reanimation technology for Naberius (Bill Nighy), the king of the demons. It could be argued that I, Frankenstein shows admirable restraint in not developing the non-chemistry between Adam and Terra into a full-blown relationship subplot, but pondering the mechanics of reassembled genitalia at least seems a hell of a lot more interesting than anything that happens during the film’s 88 minutes. When not conducing itself with conspicuous indifference, I, Frankenstein spends a lot of time explaining its plot ad nauseum to the audience. There are at least three moments during the film where the film re-states its own plot as it goes along, and in these moments the film conducts itself with the ragged desperation of a teacher on the last day of school, trying in vain to get anybody to listen or care.
The rest of the time, I, Frankenstein steals rather liberally from the Underworld franchise. The film’s ending hilariously sets up for a second installment, one that would likely lose out on the mild bits of vamping with which Nighy tries in vain to enliven the film. The problem is that there’s already a four-film franchise, most of which has been handled with equal indifference, made out of two rival clans of mythical creatures fighting each other in unremarkable, dark blue-hued cityscapes. Nothing that happens at any point during I, Frankenstein lands, and the film is at once too assiduously serious to be worth a camp afficionado’s time and too dull to appeal to those who just enjoy loud, fantasy-tinged action films. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a Kanye shrug, but with gargoyle people.