I: I, Frankenstein (2014)

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We live in an age of reboots and remakes. Some day the madness will end, but this is not that day. Intellectual property will continue to be harvested for supposedly new audiences, and mixed with whatever the perceived new hotness with that audience might be.

So is it any wonder that we got a movie casting the Frankenstein Monster as a superhero?

After a fairly simplistic precis of the original novel, the creature (Aaron Eckhart, who seems to be living under some sort of a gypsy curse since The Dark Knight), buries his creator in the family cemetery, and is set upon by demons disguised as humans, who intend to capture him. He kills one with a holy symbol plucked from the ground, and is rescued by two gargoyles, who then turn into humans. Or disguise themselves as humans. Trying to parse this gout of madness at the very beginning is your first challenge.

The Creature – Adam – is told by the Gargoyle Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) that there is an eternal war between the Demons and the Gargoyles. They have no idea what the Demons want with Adam, but the chief of the Gargoyles’ warriors, Gideon (Jai Courtney) wants to destroy him to make sure he never falls into Demon hands. Leonore, though, sees the possibility of a soul in Adam’s eyes, and releases him. Adam wants nothing to do with this war, and departs for remote regions. He finds he is apparently immortal, and after 200 years, the Demons have continued to seek him out. So he returns to civilization and brings the war to the Demons.

This does not sit well with the Gargoyles, who prefer their war to remain hidden from mankind. While Adam is captured yet again, a scientist, Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) attempts the ultimate experiment in her project for the head of her corporation: reviving a dead rat using some 21st century Strickfaden electric effects. By desperately pushing the equipment beyond its limits, she succeeds – which interests her boss, Naberius (Bill Nighy) very much.

Naberius, as if you didn’t already know, is the Demon Prince who put out the infernal APB on Adam 200 years previous. He has a very complicated plan which will require animated corpses – lots of them. The step up from a rat to a human being is extremely complex, Terra tells him, so he promises to get her an example to study… since one has just recently cropped back up again.

This is a cumbersome but pretty cool mythology to graft a literary character into, and another thing weighing heavily against it is that its CGI-rich imagery is all too clean – it looks and plays like a video game cut scene, and I kept waiting for it to end so I could start playing again. It never does, and I never did. The characters do not engender any sympathy with me because, again, this all a cut scene. The story itself lurches along like one of the 30s version of the Monster. There needed to be some grain in the picture, some engagement possible. It’s all too clean. All surface.

As an action movie, it’s okay. There was supposed to be a connection with writer Kevin Grevioux’s other horror action series, Underworld, but that is vanishingly unlikely. The director is Stuart Beattie, best known as a writer on the Pirates of the Caribbean  movies, which explains a lot, as I feel exactly the same about those movies. I like the premise, I like the setup, I just find the execution distancing and lacking.

I’m probably here writing this instead of my originally intended entry for the letter I (maybe next year, The Incubus) because of a Tweet by film writer A.M. Novak – @BookishPlinko: (and be sure to check out her series on Video Nasties at the Daily Grindhouse when you’re finished here)

That is a fabulous idea, and though nowhere near as good as any of those movies, I’d throw in I, Frankenstein too, because it’s still more entertaining than the Dark Universe movie we did get, The Mummy – which we’re going to deal with in a few more letters.

Buy I, Frankenstein on Amazon

4 Comments

  1. Hey, which Incubus are we talking here? The Esperanto one with Shatner or the other one (that I don’t remember much at all)?

    • The other one, with John Cassavetes.

      • Ah, NOW I remember it. For some reason, I forget John was in that, but I blame watching The Fury for comic relief too many times. Don’t ask.

  2. […] I did with I, Frankenstein, I’m going to quote a tweet from film writer A. M. Novak, who makes this very excellent […]


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