I, Frankenstein sees Aaron Eckhart play one of literature and film’s most famous monsters. Does this outing bring new life or should it have been left dead and buried?
This film shares a lot in common with the Underworld series which comes as no surprise given that they share producers. Both update old horror lore and bring it into a contemporary setting while garnishing it with breathtakingly over the top action. This film is certainly no slouch in that department.
The story is a simple one; no more complicated than your average video game. For centuries, evil Demons and angelic Gargoyles have fought a long and arduous war that shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Caught in the middle is Frankenstein’s monster, Adam (so named by the gargoyles who find him) who wants nothing to do with any of it and just wants to be left alone. Sound familiar? It should; just like a video game the story exists for little else than to move from one action setpiece to the next and in doing so it works very well. The film never bogs itself down with too much narrative; never giving the audience any downtime to get bored of what’s going on. We are given all the information we need and then it moves on. There aren’t a lot of laughs in the story even though there probably should be. Considering how ridiculous the whole affair is, there could have been some zingy one liners to accompany the ludicrous action.
Aaron Eckhart’s Adam is not just twelve different pieces of eight different corpses stuck together; he’s also stitched together from several badass action hero clichés. He’s distant, joyless, self-righteous and angry at the world around him that he doesn’t feel a part of. Eckhart does a good job of portraying the monster, he’s not given a lot of range to work with but does well with what he’s given. He’s believable in the role and delivers the cornball dialogue with the necessary precision.
Yvonne Strahovski (TV’s Chuck and Dexter) plays a sort of love interest in Terra. She’s a brilliant scientist who is close to replicating the experiment that gave birth to Adam. She’s drawn into the madness that surrounds him and Adam feels duty bound to protect her. There’s not much to say about Strahovski in this film, she does her job well enough but has almost nothing to work with. If you’d replaced her character with a middle aged man then there would be no difference.
The villain comes in the form of Bill Nighy’s Naberius. Nighy can always be counted on to give a suitably over the top villain performance and certainly doesn’t disappoint here. Nighy chews the scenery with shameless aplomb. He is perhaps a little underused though.
The supporting cast are almost entirely forgettable. Miranda Otto and Jai Courtney play two of the heaven sent Gargoyles but they are little more than plot devices to move things along. The rest is padded out with demon henchmen
The film is well paced, clocking in at a breezy 92 minutes meaning it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The audience is never left wanting for another ridiculous action scene. Speaking of which, the action moves along at a breakneck pace and provides several very nice spectacle inducing visuals. The final confrontation between Adam and Naberius leaves a lot to be desired but other than that the set pieces are a lot of fun.
Overall I, Frankenstein is a good time, if a little disposable. It’s not offensively bad nor is it too long. It’s more something to take in and be enjoyed at the time without any wider significance. I doubt it’ll be remembered well a year from now but it’s a fun time while it lasts. It’s worth nothing that Adam’s name is a reference to Mary Shelley’s novel, just one of many aspects of the back-story that are very close to the source. It’s somewhat amusing that this film is one of the more accurate depictions of Frankenstein’s monster ever seen on screen.