i-frankenstein moving poster

Review by C.J. Bunce

I, Frankenstein is a fantasy-horror motion picture released earlier this year, based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux.  Starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Bill Nighy (Underworld, Shawn of the Dead, State of Play), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings), and Jai Courtney (A Good Day to Die Hard, Jack Reacher), all signs pointed to the possibility that the film could be minimally watchable.  But retellings of classic monster stories are tough to get right.  In our ongoing pursuit at borg.com to identify the best of Blu-ray 3D home video we screened I, Frankenstein in Blu-ray 3D.  Despite having some pretty stellar 3D special effects, the film unfortunately can’t overcome its thin effort to retell the Frankenstein story.

With creators of Underworld behind the scenes, it’s no wonder this film has the look of that franchise.  It also shares the same dark vibe as the respectable and fun monster mash-up Van Helsing.  But its clunky twist on Frankenstein’s monster isn’t saved by the serious acting of lead Aaron Eckhart, or the quality bad guy villainy portrayed by Bill Nighy.

Adam Frankenstein

Good monster retellings?  Try Young Frankenstein (1974), Phantom of the Opera (2004), Van Helsing (2004), the American Werewolf series, Wolf (1994), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), The Mummy (1999), and the short-lived Dracula (2013) TV series.  These all show how retellings of classic monster stories can be done right.

Nicely done action sequences and fiery explosions?  It’s got ’em.  Beautifully-rendered, in-your-face 3D?  It’s got that, too.  And if you only want to watch special effects with the backdrop of a classic, then this may be something for one of those moments.

But I, Frankenstein is about a legion of gargoyles and their gargoyle queen (Miranda Otto) who are in a battle with demons under the control of a demon prince played by Nighy, posing as a modern-day biotech businessman.  Nighy’s character wants Dr. Frankenstein’s journal, to be able to resurrect soulless bodies for demons in hell to fill.  Otto’s character attempts to recruit Frankenstein (the monster has taken his creator’s name) to her cause, even giving him the rather silly name of Adam (which nobody else ever uses). Hundreds of years after their initial meeting, Frankenstein and the gargoyle queen reunite in the present day (still wearing the same costumes).

Huh? 

Eckhart and Strahovski in I Frankenstein

You could almost see how someone thought this might be a bit like Highlander.  But ultimately it makes you wonder how such a concept ever made it past the editor’s desk, how it got accepted for a produced script, how the solid slate of actors got reeled in, and how any group of people could let this happen.

The monster of the title is offered magical weaponry to fight alongside the gargoyles, smiting demons, and he picks a pair of sticks.  His creator made him powerful, so we get to see him use the sticks to annihilate several baddies.  Eckhart does all he can to kick up the action.  It’s just not enough.

I Frankenstein Blu-ray 3D

A gargoyle queen may work as the focus of a pre-teen-targeted comic book.  But cross a story too nonsensical for adults with a too-dark-for-kids story of demons, hell, and violence and you’re left with no conceivable audience for this film.  I, Frankenstein is one of those difficult films that make the audience wish the cast could overcome the script.  But you shouldn’t have to work to like a movie.

We’d pass on this one and try one of the other monster retellings listed above instead, or better yet, check out the classic Universal monster movies here.  If you don’t believe us and still want to try it, you can get it at Amazon here.

 

 

#filmrev

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