I suppose somewhere deep in the bowels of what is. “I, Frankenstein” lies an interesting concept with real potential. Of course that’s just an assumption because the actual film itself squanders any potential it may have. After seeing the bushels of negative reviews my expectations for the film were always as low as star Aaron Eckhart ‘s monotone, teeth-grinding line deliveries. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find it unwatchable (hows that for a compliment).
The film is based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux. It was adapted and directed by Australian born Stuart Beattie, a man known more for his writing in films like the first (and best) “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Michael Mann’s “Collateral”. The movie picks out pieces of the well known Frankenstein story and then adds a modernized gothic coat of paint. Mad scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a soulless monster (Eckhart) but then rejects it and dumps it in a river. In a fit of vengeance the monster returns and kills Victor’s wife. Victor eventually dies trying to seek out and destroy his creation.
The monster finds his creators body and buries him in his family’s cemetery plot. While doing so he is attacked by demons and then rescued by gargoyles. This is heavy stuff, right? He is taken to a huge gothic cathedral, the headquarters of The Gargoyle Order. He is given the name Adam and through a number of stilted speeches is told of a war between the Gargoyles (representing Heaven) and the Demons (well, you know where they’re from). He refuses to help and goes out on his own only to return and become the centerpiece of a demon plan to end the gargoyle order and humanity.
Now is “I, Frankenstein” as absurd and hokey as I just made it sound? Well actually yes it is. There are a few decent effects and the dark setting is cool in a moody, gothic kind of way. Also at under 90 minutes it’s here and gone without stretching things out. There is also this unexpected but entertaining late night vibe to it. I can genuinely see this film being showcased on Elvira’s Movie Macabre.
Unfortunately none of those things make this a good film. There are just too many problems. The film has no idea of how to tell its story. There are so many history lessons in the form of bland exposition. And then there is the dialogue. Often times it’s unintentionally hilarious. And I do mean unintentionally because this film doesn’t show an ounce of humor. Everything is taken deadly serious which doesn’t do the film any favors. And then there are the absurdities that I couldn’t shake. The funniest may be the locations of the gargoyle and demon headquarters. One scene seems to reveal that for the entire time the gargoyle’s cathedral and the demon’s mansion are only a few blocks away from each other. Brilliant.
Regardless of how much I might enjoy goofy, cheesy material especially in the horror genre, at some point you have to offer more. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t find it as boring and offputting as some have. But I also can’t and won’t defend its obvious flaws. Even more, it’s a movie you’ll watch once (maybe) and then never consider watching again. I know that’s the case for me.