Movie review: ‘I, Frankenstein’
January 29, 2014
Directed by Stuart Beattie
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux
Rated PG-13, Fantasy, 100 minutes
In "I, Frankenstein" superhero wannabe Adam is Frankenstein's monster, drawn from Mary Shelley's monster tale, penned in 1818. In this new sequel, the monster is handsome, despite stitches winding down his cheek and across his chin. Portrayed by Aaron Eckhart the monster becomes a hunky, sad-eyed victim of an unholy war.
Set in the present day, we learn that Dr. F's monster wandered the wastelands for 200 years. He did so to evade capture by demons seeking the secret to his immortality. Now tired of hiding, the monster shows up in an unnamed city where he is soon attacked by demons — only to be rescued by gargoyles.
Led by Naberius (Bill Nighy), the demons seek a means of reanimating the dead. Research occurs at a high-tech laboratory located in their high-rise corporate offices, on what amounts to a clean, white theatrical stage. Pretty Dr. Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) zaps squirrel corpses with waves of bluish electricity while attempting to restart their hearts. Dressed in his dapper gray suit and sipping Earl Gray tea, Naberius observes from his office loft, passing himself off to Dr. Terra as corporate CEO Chris Wycaff.
Dr. Terra has no idea she works for a demon overlord whose basement overflows with 10,000 corpses suspended in rows of linked metal frames. It's all very "Matrixy." Instead of computers using human bodies as batteries, the demons plan to occupy the reanimated corpses with demon spirits to create an army capable of destroying mankind.
Meanwhile, from her midtown castle, gargoyle queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) vacillates between wishing to kill or protect Frankenstein's monster, whom she names Adam. It takes Adam most of the film to decide that caring about anyone is worth the effort, although, when the choices presented are creatures and people as remote and unsympathetic as those seen here, it should be every monster for himself.
Both gargoyles and demons appear mainly in human form, but when they morph into battle mode the gargoyles become enormous flying stone beasts and the demons sprout pointy cabbage heads festooned with dagger teeth.
Director Stuart Beattie and co-writer Kevin Grevioux (appearing as Naberius's chief of security) clearly hoped to begin a franchise with their crudely chiseled mythology.
Likewise, the confrontations between numerous ultra-strong demons and a few large, aerially gifted gargoyles, are silly, midair dates with death. These matchups end either in a vanquished demon's fiery red spirit pulled into hell or in a dead gargoyle's blue light ascending into the heavens. I'd hoped to learn where the light of mangled monster movies goes when the last flicker fades, but I confess, I was out of there by the time the first credit rolled.