Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski
Genre: Action/ Fantasy
Well, we all know how it begins: After being left for dead by the man who created him, the soulless creature made up of several corpses put together (Eckhart) takes revenge by killing Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s wife and then leading his creator to his eventual death. After burying Frankenstein in his family cemetery, the monster is attacked by demons, and though he kills one, he is then saved by gargoyles. The monster, who the gargoyles decide to call Adam (obviously), learns of an eternal war between demons and gargoyles that happens on the earth, out of sight from humans. Adam is asked to join the gargoyles but chooses to go his own way. However, after 200 years of travelling the earth alone, an evil plan by the demon prince Naberius (Nighy) to use the science that created Adam means Adam must now fight in a war for both his life and the future of the human race and finally find a purpose for his lonely existence.
“Hang On!” I hear you say, “He is the monster created by Frankenstein, and then called Adam, but the title is I, Frankenstein?” Well, that is a question that came to my mind too, but don’t worry; the title is explained by some very cheesy and less than subtle dialogue, and subtlety is certainly something that this utter mess of a film has absolutely none of. It is a noisy, fast and stupid 92 minutes of loud bangs, excessive CGI, clunky dialogue and brooding characters with gruff voices. That in isolation doesn’t actually sound so bad, and it admittedly flies by, but I, Frankenstein is an extremely forgettable affair and another reminder of how so many big budget films lack any film making (or indeed creative) craft.
Based on a graphic novel by those that created Underworld and produced by the same people(a franchise that started off well, but 2012s terrible 4th instalment hopefully put a stake in its heart), Pirates of the Caribbean writer Stuart Beattie and Aaron Eckhart obviously wanted to start a money spinning franchise, but after poor box office returns I do not expect that to happen. Apparently there was originally penned in the script a Marvel style post credits sequence featuring Kate Beckinsale’s Selene, but they never filmed it. I can think of many reasons why, one may be that it would make Bill Nighy a vampire and a demon? I know he is getting on a bit now, but that is a mean thing to imply about Caterham’s finest.
The fact of the matter is that I, Frankenstein was always going to be dumb, but it could and should have been fun. This only emphasises just how much of a colossal failure it is; the narrative is all over the place, happily stealing from previous similar films and mashing them together, with every apparent ‘development’ being ridiculously obvious way before it happens. Meanwhile it is beyond words as to how painful the explanation of the title and an attempt at a character arc for the monster/ Adam/ Frankenstein is to watch. The dialogue too is atrocious, and embarrassingly so that it actually made me laugh at times in disbelief at how bad it actually was.
Then of course there is Eckhart: a good actor and solid screen presence in my view (I will never forget his superb performance in In the Company of Men), and he was a good solid leading man in the expensive but fun cheese fest that was Battle: Los Angeles, but his recent films have lead me to question his judgement. He does give a surprisingly committed performance, it is rubbish and he overacts the gruff to the point of camp, but it is committed. It is however beggars belief as to why; I am sure he thought this was the start of being the leading man in a franchise, or maybe he was given a script that was completely different to what turned out to be the finished film? Meanwhile those playing demons and gargoyles awkwardly deliver clunky ‘dramatic’ speeches with no conviction whatsoever (Jai Courtney, please stop being in films!), and Bill Nighy chews scenery and spits it out in to the audiences faces (thank God I didn’t see this in 3D!).
What could have been potentially dumb fun is beyond dumb with no fun; seemingly made with a deluded self confidence and complete lack of storytelling craft in equal measure, I, Frankenstein is yet another expensive CGI mishmash that just steals other films and throws them together with painful incoherence. Do not expect him to be re-animated for a sequel anytime soon!