January 30, 2014
I, Frankenstein (* ½)
I guess you know you’re in trouble when a film’s opening narration set-up is more interesting than the story contained in the film itself. In the pre-credit sequence of the latest retelling of Mary Shelley’s oft-told tale, I, Frankenstein, we are witness to Frankenstein’s monster, Adam (Aaron Eckhart) murdering the good doctor’s wife, being unsuccessfully put out to pasture, and finally pursued by the doc through the snow, all in the first five minutes. It’s kind of strange. The doctor is intelligent enough to create life out of nothing but doesn’t have the good sense to dress warmly enough to prevent frostbite when chasing his creation through the snow in sub-zero weather, resulting in his own death (monsters don’t freeze, humans do, we are told). That’s the kind of logic that resonates throughout the film.
And so it goes with writer/director Stuart Beattie’s I, Frankenstein, a confusing and mostly joyless experience from beginning to end.
Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein
Surprising, since Beattie got his start by penning Collateral, one of the best action films of the past decade. I, Frankenstein certainly would have benefitted from some of the character development found in a film such as that one but interesting characters and good storytelling aren’t exactly what’s on the minds of the filmmaker here. That’s pretty evident during the film’s first twenty minutes and it doesn’t get any better after that. As a result, this is a film that deserves to die a quick death.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, but I don’t recall that book having a subplot about gargoyles and demons, probably for good reason. Strangely, they feature prominently here. The Gargoyles are led by Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto), while the demons are led by Naberius (Bill Nighy). This all takes place two hundred years after Adam Frankenstein was created and now with technological advancements Naberius wants to get his hands on Dr. Frankenstein’s book so that he can create an entire race of undead beings and thus rule the world. If it sounds ludicrous, at least be thankful you didn’t have to sit through it, an experience infinitely more painful than having to merely read a summation of the film’s plot.
One of the stranger aspects of the film was how some of the characters dress as if they just left a road company production of Macbeth, while others dress in modern attire and use modern technologies such as cell phones. As a result, it’s really hard to get a grip on what time frame the characters are in, although it’s supposed to be the near future. It’s just one more confusing aspect in a very confusing and unfocused film.
I, Frankenstein is playing at the Carmike Theater in Hickory, and other area theaters.
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