“The script is so dry you could sand wood with it, although it didn’t seem to help much with the wooden performances from virtually everyone involved.”
I, Frankenstein Review
By Matt Allen
I, Frankenstein (2014)
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto
Director(s): Stuart Beattie
Screenwriter(s): Stuart Beattie
Running Time: 98 mins
It’s well known that once a year in Hollywood hundreds of vapid executive types gather together around a comically large trough of stagnant water, tie their hands behind their backs, submerge their faces into the fetid sludge and bob for copies of classic literature from which they attempt to launch a winning franchise. Last year’s lucky winner was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Soon afterwards however, it was pointed out that this particular tome had been reanimated so many times it was starting to pong. And so it was on a dark and stormy night that the mob turned to the latest graphic novel ‘reimagining’ of a tale that should have been left undisturbed, and thus I, Frankenstein (cool title, bro) was coerced into ungodly existence.
200 years after his unholy creation, Frankenstein’s monster (Aaron Eckhart) is still lumbering about, only now he is embroiled in a battle between demons and gargoyles-wot-are-actually-angels-or-sumfink for the secret to eternal life.
Is there no respect for the dead? Well…the undead anyway. Or is that just zombies? Ambiguous horror trope classifications aside, the respect I, Frankenstein has for its progenitor material is in some small way quite impressive. After all, it’s common knowledge these days that the old Universal jolly green tyrant of yesteryear was way off the mark when compared with his eloquent and often poetic literary counterpart. In fact, to examine the traits of the original monster more carefully, it’s not a leap to imagine him in a modern day (anti)heroic role. With the ability to scale mountainsides, hang for days from the side of ships and being completely impervious to the elements, you could almost argue that Frankenstein’s monster is – for all intents a purposes – a superhero.
So we are introduced to the abomination and given a sweeping backstory which, again, remains more than somewhat faithful to the original material. It is, unfortunately, right up until the conclusion of the book and the death of his creator that I, Frankenstein picks up its own predictable drivel about a secret war between the forces of good and evil that has played out so tiresomely before.
It comes as no surprise that the studio behind Underworld has also brought us this over stylised twaddle that pits two opposing supernatural armies (one lead by Bill Nighy) against one another for some reason no one ever really bothered to remember. The similarities are so plain it’s actually quite insulting to be fed the same unashamedly re-packaged franchise, particularly when the first inevitably left a bad taste in the mouth.
The script is so dry you could sand wood with it, although it didn’t seem to help much with the wooden performances from virtually everyone involved. Of course Bill Nighy reaches into his bottomless sack of facsimile characters he saves for when he needs to make some easy money, but what is most disheartening to see is Eckhart who, until some recent bad choices (see also Battle: LA) could be relied upon as a stamp of quality. Other forgettable stars include that woman from TV’s Chuck and some other people.
Completely without charm and unapologetic in its rehashing of every tired trick in the book, I, Frankenstein is a pitiful attempt at launching a franchise. Here’s hoping Paul McGuigan’s upcoming take on the story holds together better than the rotted flesh of this effort.