There can only be one . . . and it's not this guy!
Film Review © 2014 by Trip Reynolds
Directed by Stuart Beattie; Screenplay by Kevin Grevioux and Stuart Beattie. Based on Kevin Grevioux's Darkstorm graphic novel, "I, Frankenstein," which is based on the original book, "Frankenstein," by Mary Shelley. Produced by Sidney Kimmel, Gary Lucchesi, Andrew Mason, Tom Rosenberg, and Richard S. Wright. Executive produced by Matt Berenson, Kevin Grevioux, David Kern, Troy Lum, James McQuaide, and Eric Reid. Production executive Michael Paseornek.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart (as the Frankenstein monster, Adam), Yvonne Strahovski (as scientist, Terra), Miranda Otto (as leader of the gargoyles, Leonore), Bill Nighy (as evil leader of the demon hords, Naberius), Jai Courtney (as Gideon); Socratis Otto (as Zuriel), Aden Young (as Victor Frankenstein), Caitlin Stasey (as Keziah), Mahesh Jadu (as Ophir), Steve Mouzakis (as Helek), Nicholas Bell (as Carl Avery), Deniz Akdeniz (as Barachel), Chris Pang (as Levi), Kevin Grevioux (as Dekar), Bruce Spence (as Molokai), Virginie Le Brun (as Elizabeth Frankenstein), and host of others including a CGI cast of thousands of people, places, and things.
Do NOT re-make or "re-imagine" a legendary film or an iconic film character unless you're able to make a film at least as good but hopefully better than the original. Again, do NOT re-make or "re-imagine" a legendary film or an iconic film character unless you're able to make a film at least as good but hopefully better than the original. Film producers, directors, writer, actors and all film personnel are wasting their money, and more importantly, no matter how slickly produced the film might be, they're wasting my time, wasting your time, making us sit through films that are ultimately a piece of crap.
THIS IS "THE LOOK" OF "THE" MONSTER THIS IS NOT A MONSTER
BORIS KARLOFF as THE MONSTER
The "Frankenstein" mythos was originally written by Mary Shelley in 1818. As written by Shelley, a scientist literally used parts of exhumed corpses to create a living human being. The Frankenstein "monster" should look like a cut-and-past hatchet-job of avant-garde medical research and experimentalism, with the evil brain of a murderer.
The original 1931 film, as directed by James Whale, absolutely captured the excitement, horror, and danger of bringing life to conjoined pieces of rotten corpses. Even better, the make-up applied to Boris Karloff buy Pauline Eells and Jack P. Pierce realistically made it appear as if a dead man was walking. Plus, as shot in glorious black and white, with creepy shadows and stark highlights and contrasts by cinematographers Arthur Edeson and Paul Ivano, this film was "film noir" nearly twenty years before "film noir."
as THE MONSTER
Accordingly, the Frankenstein monster should look "like a monster," like Boris Karloff at far left, and not like the slightly scarred figure of adonis Aaron Eckhart at right.
"I, Frankenstein" is a re-imagined story of the monster's origin, and his transcendence both physically and chronologically.
Essentially, the story continues decades after the monster was created, with the Monster living an extremely solitary and stoic existence, away from deceitful and temperamental ways of humanity; the Monster does not trust humanity. However, unbeknownst to the Monster, he's being sought after by both demons (the bad guys) and gargoyles (the good guys, who are actually angels) because both the Monster and Dr. Frankenstein's journal hold the key to the creation of life. The Monster, having been created by a human and not by God, does not have a soul. The demons want to use the secret for creating life to inhabit the bodies of dead humans who, like the Monster, no longer have souls.
That's the story, albeit minus the special effects and pseudo-epic battles for the soul of humanity. How are entire buildings destroyed and not one human hears the sound and rushes to investigate? Clearly, there are physical laws (physics, sound, gravity, etc.) this script completely ignores. Most of the fighting took place at night, but script ignores the fact that present-day human beings work at 24-hour drive-thru restaurants, hospitals, iHops, Walmarts, and other operations that are wide-awake 24/7/365. Equally important, today's terrorist-conscious world has 24/7/365 surveillance and rapid response S.W.A.T. teams ready to respond to any criminal activity or threat. This dumb script ignores all of the aforementioned, and suggests that battles between "good and evil" occur under the veil of human consciousness. This script is co-written by Kevin Grevioux, who wrote the graphic novel from which the film is based, and the film script is co-written by the film director, Stuart Beattie. We really can't fault the screenplay for the imperfections of the source material, the graphic novel written by Grevioux. We've seen this movie too many times before; two factions are in a life-and-death battle competing for one prize, in this case, possession of the Frankenstein Monster and/or the journal of Dr. Frankenstein. The Gargoyles captured the Monster first, so they took naming rights and gave the Monster a new and very unique name, Adam, as the first of his kind. In the unlikely event of a sequel, Adam's undead mate will clearly be named, Eve. Do you begin to see how unimaginative and predictable you will find this film?
Ultimately, the Monster Adam, aligned himself with the Gargoyles, but why? Remember, Monster Adam lead a solitary and stoic existence, he hated humanity, and likewise, he had no affinity for demons or gargoyles. In fact, film repeatedly conveyed this message. Early in the film, immediately prior to his release by the gargoyles, Monster Adam asked, "How do I kill demons . . . and how do I kill gargoyles." So, the gargoyles told him how and gave Monster Adam weapons to do so. Ultimately script has Monster Adam fighting only against the demons, which was dumb. Yes, dumb because, again, Monster Adam hated humanity, and he held no affinity for demons or gargoyles.
Every time Monster Adam or a gargoyle killed a demon its fiery essence would descend to hell, never to return. Conversely, as also displayed in the "Immortals (2011)," every time a gargoyle or angel was killed its divine essence would ascend to heaven. So, here's what could/should have happened. Borrowing a storyline from the "Highlander (1986)," what if every time Monster Adam killed a demon or gargoyle their essence was absorbed into Monster Adam, thereby empowering Monster Adam with more strength than all demons and gargoyles combined; perhaps Monster Adam might acquire enough power to rival both Satan and God. After all, Monster Adam is not human, or a demon, or a gargoyle, and he has no soul. Then, what if demons and gargoyles had to join forces in an attempt to destroy an omnipotent Monster Adam, and they lost? That would be a sequel worth seeing. Oh, and in the sequel, borrowing a storyline from the Marvel Comic "Tomb of Dracula," the Monster Adam and his wife, Eve (of course), give birth to a child, who ultimately becomes the anti-Christ, and his mission in life is to destroy his father, Monster Adam, but he also loses, which preps us for the third and final sequel. Oops. This is supposed to be a film review, and not a script re-write.
If you didn't know, Kevin Grevioux is also the creator of the "Underworld" film franchise. Grevioux created the characters, wrote the screenplays, and as a 6'3" muscular Black man weighing nearly 250 pounds his presence as the Lycan character, Raze, was powerful and intimidating. In "I, Frankenstein" Grevioux appeared as Dekar, chief bodyguard to demon leader Naberius (Bill Nighy). Nighy appeared wonderfully as the evil and regal vampire leader Viktor in the "Underworld" film franchise. Nighy is a very talented and an award-winning British actor, and although the script was perfunctory, his performance rose above such. Acting by key players in "I, Frankenstein," Miranda Otto (Leonore), Jai Courtney (Gideon), Socratis Otto (Zuriel), Caitlin Stasey (Keziah), and Mahesh Jadu (as Ophir), rose above the quality of the script, which is especially true of Aaron Eckhart as Monster Adam. However, Yvonne Strahovski, was less than believable as scientist, Terra, and appeared mainly as blonde eye-candy.
The director of this film, Stuart Beattie, also co-wrote "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)," and co-wrote "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)" and co-wrote "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)." However, in addition to "I, Frankenstein" Beattie's only significant directorial experience is confined to "Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010)." Chris Pang, Caitlin Stasey, and Deniz Akdeniz also starred in "Tomorrow, When the War Began" and were re-cast by Beattie to star in "I, Frankenstein." At only 42 years of age, it's highly unlikely if Australian born Beattie acquired enough "cultural seasoning" to truly understand the cinematic mythos of the iconic Frankenstein monster, particularly as defined by Boris Karloff.
Unlike the picture of Karloff as the Frankenstein monster (at left), there was nothing horrific or immediately threatening about the look or actions of Aaron Eckhart as the Monster Adam - demons were not scared of him, nor were the gargoyles. Why should anyone be afraid, including humans, of a "humanoid" who looks better than many humans and most zombies? The horror and intimidation of Karloff's Frankenstein monster was manifest by his look, his size, his imposing walk as a brooding and lumbering corpse who towered over everyone, fearful or no one, immensely powerful, predisposed to kill anyone, and director James Whale set this cinematic standard in the original 1931 film, "Frankenstein." Conversely, director Beattie gives us Monster Adam who uses pseudo-martial arts skills against demons and gargoyles. It's laughable. For the third and final time, do NOT re-make or "re-imagine" a legendary film or an iconic film character unless you're able to make a film at least as good but hopefully better than the original.
The good vs. evil theme that permeates the film is so inherently predictable that the ending of the film is anticlimactic. Of course, good will triumph over evil, and the Frankenstein monster will survive; if not, how can there be a sequel? Sequel?? Let's check the box office receipts: opening weekend = $8,610,441, but film dropped by over 56% the second weekend to only $3,754,423. Total U.S. domestic theatrical revenue is only $19,075,290. Conclusion: Film is a box office dud; there won't be a sequel.
As expected, special effects and technical aspects were solid, because they had to be. The best thing about this film is that it's only 92 minutes long, which is great for commercial television to stretch film to 120 minutes by adding 28 minutes of advertising. This film is perfect for the Syfy channel, Spike, FX, or TNT.
Recommendation: In a word, "Netflix" it, or wait and grab a copy from the $5.00 bin at Walmart, or wait to watch it on the Syfy channel, Spike-TV, FX, or TNT.