US Release Date: 01-24-2014
Directed by: Stuart Beattie
- Aaron Eckhart, as
- Yvonne Strahovski, as
- Miranda Otto, as
- Bill Nighy, as
- Jai Courtney, as
- Socratis Otto, as
- Aden Young, as
- Victor Frankenstein
- Caitlin Stasey, as
- Mahesh Jadu, as
- Steve Mouzakis, as
- Bruce Spence, as
- Kevin Grevioux, as
- Chris Pang as
Jai Courtney in I Frankenstein
I Frankenstein came and went very quickly from theaters. The previews made it seem like a ridiculous Frankenstein’s monster as a modern superhero movie. Although I could still use that description, it has a back story that reaches all the way back to Dr. Victor Frankenstein and has plenty of religious mythology.
As the movie begins, the monster is burying the Doctor in his family cemetery. He gets attacked by demons but he is saved by some gargoyles and is offered sanctuary in a Cathedral where the Gargoyles live. The Queen of the gargoyles, Leonore, keeps Dr. Frankenstein's journal that the monster was carrying, and names the monster, Adam. She also explains to him that there is an ongoing war between the gargoyles and demons. Adam decides to leave them, preferring to be alone.
Two hundred years later, Adam returns to civilization which is now a modern society. He has decided to hunt down and kill the demons that had been hunting him. He learns that a demon prince is intending to create an army of soulless corpses with the intention of possessing them with demons to make an insurmountable army.
Adam meets the beautiful Terra, a scientist researching how to create life from dead tissue. She does not realize that she is working for the demon prince who is seeking Dr. Frankenstein's journal to help Terra build his undead demon possessed army. She, of course, ends up teaming with Adam and they do battle against the demons.
Aaron Eckhart is a decent enough actor but I like him more as a slimy politician or business man than an action hero. He brings very little to the role. He is not completely convincing as an almost unstoppable bad ass. The role of Frankenstein’s monster as a superhero is a part more suited to some body builder.
For my money, Jai Courtney steals every scene as Leonore’s number one gargoyle soldier, Gideon. He has the appearance of a superhero and the presence to command your respect with his ornate double bladed battle axe. He also looks cool as hell transforming into a gargoyle.
The battles, especially the one at the cathedral, are entertaining and very exciting. I also enjoyed a couple of dramatic outbursts. When Adam yells at Leonore that his life is his own, Leonore snaps back, “Your life was not granted to you by the grace of God. It was fabricated in a laboratory!” When the Demon prince first meets Adam, he tells him, "Victor Frankenstein gave you life but he could not restore your soul."
I Frankenstein is a CGI filled action “B” movie. Sure you can pick apart the plot, such as had Adam and the journal been destroyed early on, lots of gargoyles could have been spared. Either way, I have enjoyed plenty of blockbuster movies far less than I have enjoyed this. If you like The Underworld films this is a movie for you.
Mahesh Jadu in I, Frankenstein.
I only ever saw the first Underworld movie and I hated it, so I, Frankenstein is definitely not a movie for me. The similarities between them are far from coincidental however. The producers of the Underworld series also produced this movie, and both Bill Nighy and Kevin Grevioux have appeared in Underworld movies. They even toyed with the idea of setting I, Frankenstein in the Underworld universe and getting Kate Beckinsale to make a cameo. Maybe they should have done that since, as Eric implied, this movie was poorly received at the box office.
It was also slaughtered by most critics. To which I will add my voice. I, Frankenstein (besides the pretentious title) is dull and unoriginal. The plot meanders, the characters are all interchangeable and the action sequences are best described as Gothic CGI chaos. I lost track of how many times someone crashes through a wall or window. To me the gargoyles looked cheesy and there's a sameness to all the battle scenes.
I agree with Eric that Aaron Eckhart brings nothing to the title role. At the beginning of the movie he looks like a homeless guy you might see panhandling on the L train at 2:00am. After he cuts his hair and has a change of clothes, he looks like Aaron Eckhart with stitches on his face. Whatever happened to the classic Frankenstein's Monster with the green skin, square head and bolt through the neck? Maybe it's the purist in me but I have a difficult time thinking of any other character as “Frankenstein”.
Of the cast, Miranda Otto as Queen Leonore, alone seems to be playing appropriately to the back row. Her line readings are properly melodramatic. Everyone else, even the normally engaging Bill Nighy, seems stuck in first gear in comparison. Jai Courtney certainly looks the part. He possesses ten times the charisma of Eckhart.
When Leonore names the creature Adam, my first thought was, "how obvious and unoriginal can the script get?" It turns out to be taken from the original Mary Shelley novel, in which the creature refers to himself as Adam. Who knew? I guess if you learn something from it, no movie experience is a complete waste of time. Fans of the Underworld movies may well enjoy I, Frankenstein. I, Patrick did not.
Aaron Eckhart and Yvonne Strahovski in I, Frankenstein.
Sorry, but I enjoyed Underworld and still thought this movie was a pile of steaming crap. But then, let's face it, the best thing about the Underworld movies has always been watching a smoking hot Kate Beckinsale kicking ass in fangs and skintight leather. A sexy Frankenstein just doesn't work.
In fact, a sexy Frankenstein makes no sense. The whole idea is that he is a monster, shunned by a society who are scared of him, but who's scared of him here? He looks like a super fit Aaron Eckhart with a few sexy scars, not to mention he's an immortal superhero. Just why is he so tortured?
Although I've never heard of it, I wasn't surprised to learn that the story was based on a graphic novel. Visually there are some nice things to look at and all the CGI does often look like something straight out of a comic book. The Gargoyles in particular look almost like a cartoon. It's not that they don't look good and detailed, but they never feel as though they have much weight, despite being made of rock and yet still somehow able to fly with wings. And all of their deaths carry as much weight as a cartoon character dying.
Eric's right that the plot must not be looked at too carefully if you want to have any hope of enjoying it. The most ludicrous aspect to me is that when Adam first meets the gargoyles he is told by them that he broke one of their main rules by fighting the demons in public as apparently the battle between the gargoyles and the demons must be kept a secret. Except of course the rest of the movie involves massive battles between the two forces, all across the city, with buildings being destroyed, giant stone gargoyles flying all over the place, and brilliant shafts of light shooting up to the heavens. But hey, "Shhhhhhhh. No one will notice, right?"
Some movies carry a bad smell about them before they're even released. This was such a film. It was due to be dumped in the middle of February in 2013, but its release date was pushed back twice until it was finally given a mercifully quick outing in January of the following year. In interviews, Kevin Grevioux, creator of the original graphic novels the character is based on, spoke about potential sequels and the possibility of crossing over with the Underworld franchise, as Patrick mentioned. That was incredibly optimistic of him. in the end, he should just consider himself lucky this single installment ever saw the light of day.
Photos © Copyright Hopscotch Features (2014)