I, Frankenstein Review
It's never a good sign when the filmmakers use the wrong name in the title
It’s a common mistake but Frankenstein is the Monster’s creator and not the Creature itself.So calling a film about the Monster I, Frankenstein when that isn’t his name seems dumb, even by Hollywood’s standards. Although if that was the only dumb thing in the film, we would count ourselves lucky. In actual fact, the title’s misnomer is just one in a long line of stupid ideas and plot points that mark I, Frankenstein out as the first real stinker of 2014. The fact that film wasn’t given any advanced press screenings is never a good sign.
It was originally meant to be released in February 2013, so in fact alarm bells had been ringing for some time. The initial delay in the film’s release was due to a very late decision to convert it into 3D, which shows that it was never conceived for three dimensions. However, the film’s rescheduled release date of September 2013 was also postponed, so that the film could be digitally re-mastered and released in the IMAX format. Talk about polishing a turd.
The film stars Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy, both of whom should know better.
Well finally it has been released and it’s safe to say that the film wasn’t worth the wait. The basic premise is that the Monster survived the events at the end of the novel due to his superior strength and returns from the arctic with Frankenstein's body. The Creature buries his creator and is almost immediately attacked by demons who want him for some nefarious purpose. He is saved by angels who can also take the form of gargoyles and the Monster learns that there is an on-going war between these angels and demons for the future of mankind.
The film then jumps forward to the present day where the Creature, who appears to also be immortal as well as almost indestructible, meets a scientist called Terra Wade, who is trying to replicate Frankenstein’s experiments from centuries before. The plot then centres on the demons’ attempts to build an army of reanimated corpses and the battle for both the Creature himself and Frankenstein’s journal, which holds the secret to successful reanimation.
The film is based upon a graphic novel created by Kevin Grevioux, who played the huge werewolf with the really deep voice in Underworld and appears in I, Frankenstein as a demon. It’s no coincidence that Grevioux was involved in Underworld and the plot of I, Frankenstein bears a striking similarity. Essentially it involves two warring immortal groups, demons and angels in I, Frankenstein and vampires and werewolves in Underworld, who fight an ongoing battle whilst the human race is largely unaware of what’s happening around them.
The film stars Aaron Eckhart as the Creature and Bill Nighy as Prince Naberius, the leader of the demons and one of the angels who fell from grace with Satan. Frankly both of them should know better but Nighy has previous form, having been in the first three Underworld movies. Miranda Otto plays Leonore, the leader of the angels, and since she’s doing an English accent, basically sounds like Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. Jai Courtney, most recently seen playing John McClane’s son in A Good Day to Die Hard, is Gideon, Leonore’s second in command and since he’s also doing an English accent he basically sounds like Varro from the TV series Spartacus. Filling out the main cast is Yvonne Strahovski, most recently seen in Chuck and Dexter, who plays the scientist Terra Wade.
The film is directed by Australian Stuart Beattie, who also wrote the screenplay, based upon a story by Beattie and Grevioux. The film was shot in Australia, which explains the excess of antipodeans in the cast - Otto, Courtney and Strahovski are all from Down Under. However the film takes place in some nondescript European city with an enormous cathedral that bears a resemblance to Notre Dame and is covered in gargoyles of course. However, the film can never escape the utterly ridiculous nature of the premise and, as a result, you never care about the protagonists. There are multiple action scenes but your lack of emotional involvement means they quickly become tedious and repetitive. The special effects are mediocre and lacking in any imagination, whilst the post-converted 3D is poor and adds nothing to the story. On the plus side the sound design is quite well put together, with very active surrounds and plenty of bass.
The real problem with the film is that it’s never quite sure what it wants to be.
The real problem with the film, aside from the ludicrous plot, is that it’s never quite sure what it wants to be and this is best typified by the nature of the creature. For most of the film the main characters refer to him as the Creature or the Monster and at one point Leonore christens him Adam. This is actually accurate because although Frankenstein never gave his Monster a name, the book’s author Mary Shelley did refer to the Creature as Adam. However, towards the end of the film, Bill Nighy’s character begins calling him Frankenstein and by the end, the Creature is calling himself Adam Frankenstein.
However, we're frankly over-analysing the film because I, Frankenstein is just a silly idea that largely wastes the time and talent of all those involved. It may have been a protracted delivery but this is one creation that should have been killed at birth…
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