I, Frankenstein – Review
When a film’s ad campaign proudly displays the words “from the producers of Underworld” atop a seemingly endless amount of frenetically edited trailer footage of Frankenstein’s monster hacking up computer-animated demons, you can probably hazard a guess there and then as to whether or not the film’s for you.
Kicking off with a breezy retelling of the events of Mary Shelley’s tome, I, Frankenstein begins with the monster (quickly renamed Adam) drafted into a war between (the warriorlike) Gargoyles and (the mostly vampiric) Demons, with Adam’s own body the missing piece in a demonic masterplan. It’s hogwash of the highest calibre, with even the MacGuffin lifted directly from the similarly toned, albeit not quite as a fun, Van Helsing.
Aaron Eckhart does his best Batman impression in a role that really only requires some grunting and a few backflips, it’s pretty far from the dizzying heights of his role in the likes of Thank You For Smoking, but still somehow far enough away from being his worst performance. Bill Nighy gets some requisite scenery-chewing in there, even if his role is more or less copied and pasted from the Underworld series; meanwhile, the bulk of the supporting cast are made up of, and seem to be playing, Australians. Gargogyles, demons, human scientists, everyone seems to be Australian; and while it’s never explicitly stated that the movie doesn’t take place in a particularly gothic corner of Australia, it’s jarring enough to be noticeable and somewhat distracting.
What ultimately drops the movie to it’s knees is the lack of thought behind it. Like Adam himself, I, Frankenstein is ultimately made up of parts of other fantasy action movies simply stitched together in the hopes of creating something new. Underworld, Van Helsing, Legion, The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you could craft a scoresheet ahead of time and simply tick them off as you go. That lack of thought hinders the film greatly in managing to take those parts and failing to craft something new with it, at one point going so far as to fall back on the oldest deus ex machina in the book, simply because the writers couldn’t find a better resolution and made all the more irritating by the exact opposite having been a significant plot point a mere ten minutes beforehand.
In fairness, I, Frankenstein functions perfectly well as a mindless slash ‘em up for twelve year old boys, there’s even some half decent 3D spectacle in there, but with a paint-by-numbers script, a box-checking story and a somewhat hammy sensibility, it’s just another poorly thought-out piece of an otherwise forgettable but harmless enough patchwork of a dozen other movies.
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Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski