I, Frankenstein

Posted by Joel Copling on February 11, 2014

If I believed in the term "guilty pleasure," I would use it to describe long segments of "I, Frankenstein," an enormously silly, ultimately repetitive vanity project that seems doomed from the start. It's from the producers of that dreadful "Underworld" series. It's been dropped into the doldrums of deep-winter January, where most of the pre-Christmas junk--the stuff that can't seem to lay claim to deserving any specific seasonal release date--is left for dead. It's got a random selection of actors slumming it on sound stages and among rudimentary CG effects. And, worst of the worst, it opened cold for critics. Yet despite all of this, the finished product could easily be worse than it is, and that might have to do with its gonzo premise.

"I, Frankenstein" purports that the titular doctor (played by Aden Young) created his monster, named Adam (Aaron Eckhart, super-serious and better than is necessary), then was betrayed by the beast, who murdered his wife and lured the doctor to his death before hiding out for hundreds of years. He resurfaces at last amidst a war between gargoyles and demons, the former led by fed-up queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) and the latter by Naberius (Bill Nighy, always worth some scenery-chewing lines of dialogue but basically playing the same role he does in all of the "Underworld" movies), an all-powerful Devil who wants to end the world by resurrecting an army of dead bodies with which to do battle.

Yes, "I, Frankenstein" is mostly a bunch of hogwash, but the skeleton of a worthier popcorn-muncher is here, starting right with the series-building premise of a classic-era monster like Frankenstein's being thrust into a war between supernatural beings. The execution is wobblier, with depressingly dark 3-D ruining what might have been stylish cinematography, a disposable romantic interest in Terra (Yvonne Strahovski), an electrophysiologist who rescues Adam from Naberius' clutches, and a pointless rivalry between Adam and Gideon (Jai Courtney), a gargoyle lieutenant who believes it dangerous to trust Adam. These are merely distractions from an otherwise fun-enough movie that feels overlong even at a mere 92 minutes. Less would have been infinitely more.

Film Information

Aaron Eckhart (Adam), Yvonne Strahovski (Terra), Miranda Otto (Leonore), Bill Nighy (Naberius), Jai Courtney (Gideon), Socratis Otto (Zuriel), Aden Young (Victor Frankenstein), Caitlin Stasey (Keziah), Mahesh Jadu (Ophir), Steve Mouzakis (Helek), Nicholas Bell (Carl Avery), Kevin Grevioux (Dekar).

Directed and written by Stuart Beattie, based on Mary Shelley's characters and the Darkstorm Studios graphic novel by Grevioux.

Rated PG-13 (intense fantasy action/violence throughout).

92 minutes.

Released on January 24, 2014.