I, Frankenstein hits every level of the entertainment spectrum from delivering canned, boring, and predictable events that can still be perceived as popcorn fun, if you don’t care about the nuances of a story wasted away with a boring delivery.
I, Frankenstein stars Aaron Eckhart as one of the best looking, near male-model Frankenstein monster ever, and co-stars along with Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, Jai Courtney, the deep-voiced Kevin Grevioux and a slew of other demon and gargoyle actors in a new twist on the classic tale by Mary Shelley.
If you are wondering why there seem to be more monster movies these days, you should know that the copyright protections on the classic monsters has expired and everyone but their mother, well, maybe even their mothers, are getting in on the new franchises becoming available. Suddenly we’re seeing the unnecessary retelling of centuries old stories with new twists.
In this case, Dr. Frankenstein created his monster, tried to kill “it,” then “it,” (named Adam later on in the story), came back and killed the doc’s wife. The doc then pursued Adam to the ends of the Earth… until he froze to death trying to catch and rekill him.
As it stands, the process of reanimation created a super-strong and immortal being who has the power of effecting change on what’s right and wrong.
But Adam prefers to mind his own business, and despite that demons take note of Adam and tried to capture him. During this fight guardian gargoyles, who happen to be protective angels, take note and help vanquish the rest of the demons. They take Adam back to their queen who tried to convince Adam that he should join them in their fight to destroy the demons.
Adam is a man unto himself. He recognizes that he is neither man nor beast and wants no part of anyone else’s problems. Of course their paths cross again two hundred years later, and this time the demons, led by with Naberius (Nighy), has hired Terra (Strahovski) to decipher how Adam can be alive or how he was brought to life so that they can revive tens of thousands of demons into dead bodies that Naberius has been keeping around for a long time. (Yuck, that place must smell!)
And the story, conflict and the development of Adam’s journey goes from there.
One of the bigger problems telling a story about a stoic and grumpy character is that to portray one, you need this monotone delivery of the tough guy persona that does not always translate if not done right. Every character in the movies needs some kind of emotion or driving force to depict, even if it is from the beginning of the story.
And thus as the movie starts and the telling of the tale commences, we get a lot of character and story underpinnings from the monotone mood monster, Adam. I can appreciate a dead pan delivery for what it is supposed to do, but when it goes on for too long in an opening act, it gets trite and boring.
And that’ is what afflicts the story in the the front half of telling, Adam’s matter of fact, do-not-care, droning on in the telling, along with a similar delivery by the always “evil character actor” of Bill Nighy. Then there’s Yvonne Strahovski’s character, the doctor hired to do what she thinks is good science, but yet, working for evil, is not all that good. Wait, she looked and felt so much like her old character from Chuck that it took much of what she could be out of this character.
Director (and screenplay and story writer) Stuart Beattie, whose past works include directorial work on this and some other obscure film truly did not spin up any originality with his directing. But his story and screenplay credits include some great movies like the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise and 30 Days of Night and G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra.
So he has the writing chops for action flicks but this being his second directorial task, well, it all makes sense.
It felt like he depended more on the different actors reputations and standard deliveries than pushing them for something different. And therein lies the problem of not getting drawn into this new interpreted world of Frankenstein.
The story has a ton of potential but it was delivered in a boring fashion. But before you get the idea that I hated the film, let me digress.
I did not hate the film, but rather found it to be an acceptable time killer. I did not need to turn it off to watch the latest infomercial, but rather, I deemed it as acceptable late-night brain junk-food.
Beattie’s work was lackluster enough that no one cared about the film when it came to theaters. With an estimated budget of $65M, the worldwide box office tally sits at just around $68M. Since budgets do not include marketing costs, you can see that we probably won’t be seeing this envisioned world of Frankenstein again, despite the great premise.
On the bright side, at least unlike the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, it wasn’t so bad that I found myself rooting for the bad guy.
All in all, I would give the movie a popcorn-5, but some of the creature and fight effects warrant a nudge up to a popcorn 6 score. I loved the gargoyle transitions from ‘goyle to human form and a few fight scenes, geared towards the 3D audience weren’t bad either.
Should you consider renting or owning I, Frankenstein? Probably not. Even if you’re an Eckhart fan. I’m pretty glad I did not drop money on it at the box office. But if you see it pop up on the schedule of your pay movie channel or other network TV platform, you don’t have to run from it, like I should have when I watched that Grumpy Cat movie on Lifetime!