Sure, horror movies are supposed to be hideous by nature…you know…grotesque, macabre, twisted, unhinged and off-the-wall. However, co-writer/director Stuart Beattie’s disjointed disaster ‘I, Frankenstein’ gives another unforgivable meaning to the word hideous to the point of dismissive ridiculousness. Let us just say that ‘Frankenstein’ creator Mary Shelley would never imagine the iconic monster man being inexplicably trapped in such crappy kitsch as Beattie’s horrifying hogwash.
If anything, I, Frankenstein comes off as a bad experiment gone haywire. Sadly, the cheapened nuts and bolts that assembled this particular creature caper almost tarnishes the whole Frankie fable about one of the literary and cinema’s most celebrated and legendary monster misfits. Relentlessly uninspired and creatively scatter-shot, Beattie’s putrid production wastes a great deal dabbling in wooden acting, grainy and grimy visual effects and a choppy script that looks as if was conceived and outlined on a McDonald’s napkin. I, Frankenstein was jumbled together needlessly and never quite adequately juggles its attempt at fusing the various genres to concoct an intriguing frightfest that makes any cohesive sense.
The synthetic look to I, Frankenstein is woefully distracting and the intent on presenting a modern-day monster masher as Frankenstein had its potential opportunity in breathing fresh air into a familiar yet mystique myth of Shelley’s creepy cad. Instead, Beattie’s numbing narrative tries desperately to channel an Underworld-esque vibe which undermines the Frankenstein legacy with such an arbitrary gimmick. Insipid dialogue, the inclusion of unconvincing-looking gargoyles and demons and unevenly staged CGI-induced fight scenes…all hammered in unison to showcase this clumsy creature feature.
This miscast of lead Aaron Eckhart–normally a solid and charismatic actor–is startlingly glaring. Here, Eckhart’s Frankenstein is fairly good-looking for a so-called brooding monster. He is simply reminiscent of a middle-aged Adonis that was a victim of an errant electric razor that left a few noticeable scars on his face. Wasn’t the sole purpose of the Frankenstein formula to display a tortured soul with ominous physical features to downplay an otherwise walking and wounded brute with a misunderstood heart? Certainly one does not want their concept of Frankenstein to look like an eligible ragged stud ready to win women’s affection on an episode of The Bachelor?
We find Frankenstein…actually, Adam Frankenstein (Eckhart)…lingering in his immortality for about two centuries now. It seems like forever since the Frankster discovered his master’s lifeless corpse and waved goodbye to his notable inventor. Now Frankenstein must cope with a lonely existence and trudge along in silent alienation. Anyhow, it does not take long for some unlikely visitors to make their presence known to Adam Frankenstein as they surround him and transport the monster misfit their leader Leonore, Queen of the Gargoyles (Miranda Otto). Leonore begins to school Frankenstein (interestingly, Leonore is credited with giving Frankenstein his first name of “Adam”. Go figure!) on her species’ continuous epic struggles with the dastardly demons led by their vindictive and prosperous ruler Nabarious (Bill Nighy) whose misguided ambition is to do some creating of his own in the name of unpredictable science (he wants to tap the undead and make a demonic army out of them). At Nabarious’s sinister side to reluctantly help with his insidious plan is capable scientist Terra (Yvonne Strahovski).
The predictable premise obviously pits ole’ Frankie boy in the middle of the heated battle between the more sympathetic gargoyles and the opportunistic demons looking to stock up on more manpower courtesy of Naberious’s lofty goals. The pretty Terra has a consciousness after all about assisting the nefarious Naberious and before one can spell “DNA” she decides to fight forces with Frankenstein thus turning her back on the warped Naberious.
I, Frankenstein misses the mark totally because its unintentional silliness spoiled whatever dramatic pulse is tried to incorporate in the first place. The film is all over the map and whatever cheekiness and trivial treats to be found in this horrid hockum is indeed buried by the flaccid thinness of this awful actioner. Despite the pseudo splashy 3-D confrontations of Eckhart’s buff monster set against the chaotic backdrop of fire explosions, wall-crashing demons and gargoyles, recurring sequences of disintegrating ashes and smoke and the sideline human witnesses that serve as convenient props to the manufactured madness I, Frankenstein is too ludicrous to even entertain as a throwaway guilty pleasure.
Shockingly, talented performers such as Eckhart and the usually reliable character actor Nighy singed on the dotted line for this fetid fishbowl of a frightner that seems as inconsequential as a pair of Frankenstein’s high-water pants. Nighy does what he can to liven up his villainous alter ego but his evil-minded turn is reduced to cartoonish smithereens courtesy of the movie’s mechanically mundane momentum. Strahovski’s Terra is not given must to do besides play an admiring cheerleader for Eckhart’s daper yet doom-and-gloom enforcer.
One thing for sure is that the release of I, Frankenstein in the barren month of January is so fittingly appropriate because it is definitely the time and place to dump off this nonsensical fear factor farce without much consideration.
I, Frankenstein (2014) Lionsgate Films
1 hr. 40 mins.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Miranda Otto, Yvonne Strahovski, Bill Nighy, Jai Coutney
Directed by: Stuart Beattie
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Mystery & Suspense/Drama/Fantasy
Critic’s rating: * 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars).