There have been many different on screen interpretation of Mary Shelly’s horror masterpiece “Frankenstein”. From Boris Karloff in Universal’s 1931 Classic, to Hammer Horror, to Robert DeNiro’s turn to the very first silent film made in 1910. There are so many to pick and choose from and many times his monster will show up as a supporting character such as he was in “Van Helsing” (2004). Now in 2014 we are dealt a new vision of the story dubbed, “I, Frankenstein” . A much different vision then ever seen before based on the graphic novel of the same name and from the creator of “Underworld”. This is vision however could be among the worst uses of the character yet. From the horrible CGI and action, “I, Frankenstein” gives no weight to any of the characters and sports a messy plot with cardboard lore and horrendous acting.
Not long after the death of his creator, the creature of Frankenstein finds himself thrown in the middle of a war between Demons and Gargoyles. Both want the creature and fight to win him over to their side of the war to use against the other. However between this fight of good and evil, Demons have a plan set in motion that threaten the entire human world that requires the creature of Frankenstein to hatch it.
The plot is really quite silly. Something that a child would play on the floor with his action figures. Gargoyles vs. Demons but wait let’s throw in Frankenstein’s monster as well, won’t that be cool? The answer is clear and defiant no. Of course this can’t all be blamed on the filmmakers, if this is being faithful to the source material then the original source material is more to blame for this silly idea. Why Gargoyles? Why have Gargoyles fight the demons for god? There isn’t anything thematically or symbolically that suggest the connection nor would it be a good match. It feels more like the writers just needed something “cool” to fight demons because they already used vampires and werewolves in “Underworld” so why not throw in Frankenstein? Perhaps this idea works better on the written page and then this film demonstrates not every idea can be turned into a feature film and work.
Where else does this film falter? The lore and background of the universe is uninteresting and written very loosely only managing to come up with bare minimum not even attempting to come up with anything rich. All that audiences get is one is good and the other is evil and has been fighting for centuries. No history nor significant back story. Something we have to take on face value. Even “Underworld” had a decent amount of lore and myth to it that was appealing to many.
Why do I keep mention “Underworld” in all of this? Simply because it looks and feels like an “Underworld” knock off. Coming from the same creator doesn’t help matters at all, and the film makes it look like they are trying so hard to come up with the next “Underworld” since that franchise is nearly dead in the water. Reading an interview with the creator he claimed that he originally was going to have easter eggs placed throughout the film that would link it with that series but never followed through on the plan. If the filmmakers had gone that route the vision might have felt more fore filled instead of a cheap knockout and may even have helped reinvigorate the “Underworld” franchise while starting this new one. Instead we have a dead franchise and one that has failed to come off the ground. This isn’t helped by the messy and inconsistent storyline.
The script is all over the place. The pacing is horrendous, skipping through the Creature’s origins as fast as possible to get the action. But it starts in the time the original novel takes place, when the film takes place during those times it fits the character and the story well. Then it flash forward to modern day where the remainder of the film takes place. The modern day setting feels incredibly out of place and doesn’t work well at all. The worst of it however is how inconsistent the script is. The creature goes up north where “no demon can find him”, 2 minutes later not one but a gang of demons find him. He is then told that the war must be fought in the shadows away from the world of men, then what happens? There is an all out fight on the streets and rooftops of a city in clear view of normal people. A scientist doesn’t question the existence of such creatures, and the Gargoyles switching alliances with the Creature. It’s hard to believe that the man who wrote this helped write the screenplay for “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”.
The acting is no better. Aaron Eckhart tries his hand at method acting and shows hints of a good performance as the creature. He could’ve possibly shine under the direction of a better director, instead we get a deep talking moody performance that increasingly sounds like a bad Batman impersonation. Yvonne Strahovski and Miranda Otto are forgettable. Bill Nighy plays the type of character Bill Nighy would play. Ever since his terrific turn as Davy Jones in the “Pirates Trilogy” he has been playing the same roles and hasn’t had a stand out performance. Jai Courtney disappoints, I still think he has potential but hasn’t shown it yet.
Stuart Beattie takes his turn directing. There are moments were you can see his directing potential, and has undeniably cool shots and occasionally good action sequences. However you can tell he is under the direction of someone else in needing to make this look more like “Underworld”. While some moments of the action do thrill at times most become bland and generic that will bore the target audience of this flick. The effects are overused and flood the eyes to an annoying degree. Poor CGI looks worse if you keep showing it repeatable. If Stuart can get away from these types of films, he may become a decent director but only time will tell and this isn’t a good outing to start on.
One last thing to touch on is the bad makeup and creature design. The design on the creature, is boring and not hideous at all. The creature is suppose to be stitched together from different people, in this he looks like he just has some scars on his face, nothing you can’t find on a biker and is way to good looking for the part. The design on the demons looks like a cheap Halloween mask you’d find on a 9 year old. The designs are horrid.
I wanted to score this film lower than I did, however in thinking more about it, this film never aimed to be much more than pure entertainment and knew what it was. For some it could make good guility pleasure watches but for most, you won’t be entertained by this at all. I would stay clear of this best you can but will be forgotten about soon to come.