Sunday, January 26, 2014

I, Frankenstein

I, bored.

"I, Frankenstein" comes proudly from the mind of Kevin Grevioux, the original writer of the Underworld franchise.  Apparently in the confusing and divided times in which we live, that is supposed to be a selling point.  Somehow or another Underworld managed to eek out four entirely mediocre films, each one more forgettable and pointless than the last, all on the selling point of seeing Kate Beckinsale's malnourished tiny ass in bondage leather.  Maybe some people were legitimately interested in the ongoing war between vampires and werewolves set in the eternal night of some unspecified city, and I guess they would be the intended audience for "I, Frankenstein", if such a thing exists.  But there's no Kate Beckinsale, no malnourished ass, no bondage leather, but there is perpetual night in an unspecified city.  So obviously this movie is going to make a fortune, right?

Instead we have Aaron Eckhart playing an amazingly tanned and handsome version of Frankenstein's Monster.  Yes, this is not the awkward, moaning, green-skinned creature of Universal Studios canon.  Perhaps Grevioux and director Stuart Beattie were trying to be slightly more accurate to the Mary Shelley novel, where the Monster is articulate, if not even a genius, and extremely dangerous.  But as for having leading man good looks and a toned muscular chest that would get even your grandma wet?  That sort of defeats the purpose of the whole concept.  Frankenstein is supposed to be mankind's unlovable, ugly child, entirely innocent but cursed with a nightmarish appearance and origin.  Its a classic SciFi story, totally wasted by this movie.  This particular Monster, or "Adam", or "Frankenstein"*, tries to keep up the angst of never being able to fit in with normal human society, when really, it just seems like he's either been in a car accident recently or goes to weird rave parties.  Its one of those paradoxes that only an extremely stupid movie would inflict upon itself.  You need a grotesque monster for a hero, but you also need to sell sex appeal, so let's give him a chisel jaw and making him angsty.

The plotline is basically the Underworld universe, only with demons and gargoyles replacing vampires and werewolves.  This means unfortunately that "I, Frankenstein" is as close we're going to get to seeing a big screen adaptation of the "Gargoyles" cartoon in the near future, and its absolutely terrible. The movie wants to be a pulpy B-movie mix of action and fun, but almost nobody seems to be enjoying themselves.  Everything is so damn serious, as if this bullshit about holy gargoyles was as dramatic as a World War.    Its all mediocrity all across the board, without any entertainment value, and only occasional bursts of passable action.  "I, Frankenstein" is a perfect simulation of Alzheimer's, there's so little of worth here that you'll find yourself forgetting all about seeing the movie within moments of leaving the theater.

Really though, Frankenstein is only the blunt instrument with which debts are settled in this horrifically minimalistic script.  Aaron Eckhart growls out his lines, trying to put up a front of fierce badassary when really he's desperately inflating a one-dimensional character.  Eckhart is a better actor than this movie, than this role, I have no idea what he's doing here.  He's got the face of a classical Hollywood A-list star, he's a likable guy, he brings forth an intelligent and strong presence - he could be scoring Academy Awards, instead he wrestling with gargoyles in this fucking movie.  As for the Frankenstein character, he does his thing beating up whatever the plot throws at him and that's it.  The entire movie is pretty much nothing more than Aaron Eckhart walking from the Gargoyle Cathedral to the Demon Headquarters, then back to Gargoyle Land, and finally to Demon World again for the final boss fight.  At some point apparently he ceases to be a monster and becomes a Real Boy, but the script, directing, and acting change in no way, you're just flatly told that now he's completed his character arc.  Its the worst kind of writing.  "I, Frankenstein" is so bad it couldn't bother to finish its pathetically stock love story between the Monster and a blond human scientist.

 So many scientists in this movie yet no chemistry.

Bill Nighy as the Demon Prince is the real highlight.  He's the one part of the whole movie that makes you think that maybe this "I, Frankenstein" project could have possibly been a good idea.  As he hams up some villain banter, you could see Nighy barely restrain the urge to start snapping his fingers and do a little devil dance.  Everybody else had the ridiculous idea that "I, Frankenstein" was a real movie, and so take themselves far too seriously.  Or maybe they had simply given up. As for Bill?  He knows what this is, he doesn't care, he's going to be entertaining no matter what.

The rest of the cast is almost too dreary and depressing to mention.  Kevin Grevioux has a fairly significant cameo as an enforcer Demon, who is built up to be an impressive threat, and is then dispatched with no trouble in three anti-climatic seconds.  Miranda Otto can be nothing more than an exposition fairy in her role as the Gargoyle Queen.  And then there's Jai Courtney.  Jai Courtney, I'm sure you're a perfectly fine human being in real life, but your face makes me imagine things I would like to do to you with my katana.  I'm not threatening you, keep being in movies if you need to, just know you are making the world a worse place by doing so.  Hey, I'm not an actor, I too might have awful stage presence and look constantly like I'm about to burst into a temper tantrum because Mommy wouldn't buy me a Hershey Bar.  This is why I'm not in movies.  Perhaps at some point you had the chance to be a perfectly serviceable actor, but then you played John McClane's son in "A Good Day to Die Hard", and now your career is over.  Jai Courtney is so bad in this movie that its a rival to Kellan Lutz in "The Legend of Hercules" for worst performance of January.

Then there's the action.  You'd think for a movie with basically no focus other than to be cool and exciting, that "I, Frankenstein" would be able to pitch a decent combat scene.  It cannot.  There is precisely one good fight scene, and its between Franky and some random Demon officer.  The Gargoyles have a decent design, they are animated stone creatures, and look impressive despite everything.  But the Demons have an awful design.  Most of the time they didn't bother animating the monsters beyond the actors' faces, giving the perfect impression of a dude in a suit wearing a Halloween mask.  Oh, that's certainly a scary face you have, but why didn't you transform your hands too?  Do you want a great supernatural action movie?  Don't look here.

Not even Frankenstein can pretend to be impressed by this movie.

Maybe you are the kind of person that thinks of a Gargoyle-Demon War with Frankenstein's Monster in the middle and suddenly feel a child-like sense of excitement.  Even then, I really doubt you're going to enjoy this movie.  This is not good filmmaking - on any level.  Its everything you would expect it to be, and so much less.

But hey, compared to the next movie I'm going to review, "I, Frankenstein" is "I, Claudius".

* His name is never decided upon, and the film's title only further confuses things.  Its a common misconception that Frankenstein's Monster is named "Frankenstein", and in this movie, both the primary villain and the main character eventually succumb to it.  To simplify things, I'll just call him "Frankenstein".


  1. Admittedly, the idea of Frankenstein's monster surviving to the present day and trying to blend into human society is an interesting one, but that doesn't matter if the concept is poorly executed.

    On the subject of the monster's name, since Frankenstein is a family name, and the monster is, in a sense, the doctor's son, one could argue that the monster also has a claim to the name Frankenstein.

  2. How big do you think Dr Frankenstein made his dick? what if like he gave him a horses dick, and thats why frakenstein was so mad?
    I dont know why this is never discussed. You think maybe cause the doctor forgot?

    1. It probably was not discussed because Mary Shelley was living in the 1900s. Yeah, she hung around romantics like Lord Byron and her husband, but that didn't mean a woman in that time could openly discuss dick in literature. She could invent modern science fiction with "Frankenstein", write an apocalyptic plague novel with "The Last Man", and other things, but dicks? Nope.

      If you do want to see Frankenstein's penis, try "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein", directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh of "Jack Ryan" fame. Its a direct summary of the original novel, but important to your question, you can see the Monster's penis, as played by Robert De Niro's penis.

    2. 19th century indeed. But you know it was on her mind. Wasn't Frankenstein after all conceived in Byron and Percy's presence? Don't tell me all they talked about was philosophy!

    3. I know if I were hanging with Lord Byron I would be thinking a lot about huge supernatural cocks.

  3. Well that's a crying shame. I was at least expecting it to be some kind of low cheese CG fiest that could entertain on a basic level. Oh well you win some and you lose some. And with the whole Frakenstein name thing, I believe his first name was Adam in the book.