Movie Reviews

‘I, Frankenstein’: Monster repackaged but still flatlines

By Wang DexianMovies - 24 January 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 27 January 2014

‘I, Frankenstein’: Monster repackaged but still flatlines

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Rating: 1 / 5

It is always tempting to update something as iconic as Frankenstein. 

‘I, Frankenstein’ is the latest cool-looking attempt to do just that for a monster character that has already had appeared in some terrific movies in the past, including the ones with Boris Karloff as the monster and of course, for those old enough to remember, 1974’s ‘Young Frankenstein’. 

The back-story of the creature in ‘I, Frankenstein’ seems to be the same as most of Mary Shelly's traditional telling: Victor Frankenstein makes a monster named Adam (Aaron Eckhart) and, well, became frightened of it. 

Here is where the story diverges from traditional mythos. Adam the monster kills Victor's wife in retaliation after facing rejection and ends up in a place where it is being hunted by demons and their leader Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy). 

Gargoyles appear to help Adam, and it is soon caught in a war between the two sides.

IMPRESSIVE DESIGNS

From a design perspective, the movie is quite impressive. Firstly, Adam isn't the slow, lumbering creature most of us are used to seeing. Eckhart plays not just an intelligent monster, but a super fast, super strong one. 

Think Superman dressed in a parka. It must be said that the two conflicting species in the movie are rather cool in concept.

The gargoyles, when in their human form, are dressed in Gladiator-like battle armour, looking right as a sect of warriors who defend the light. Even their hideout is a super cool cathedral.

On the other side, the demons hide among the humans dressed in sharp suits, working at Wessex Institute, the science facility run by demon leader, who goes under the human guise of Charles Wessex. 

Yes, the modern representation of demons in the modern world is a corporate sleazeball. 

FLATLINES

Despite its aesthetics, the movie never really gets going at all, completely flatlining after a while. 

Eckhart doesn't do anything in particular to elevate his role, impressive abs he may have. He seems more focused on projecting a deep, Batman-like voice and it just isn't very interesting.

And the biggest flaw of all is that everything about the story feels too familiar. 

The trailer proudly boasts “from the Producers of 'Underworld'”, and guess what? The two movies look and sound the same.

Two groups of supernatural beings fighting a centuries-old war that's unbeknown to the humans living in the city? Swap out the gargoyles and demons for werewolves and vampires and you have ‘Underworld’.

Yvonne Strahovski (from TV’s ‘Chuck’) replaces Scott Speedman in the ‘Underworld’ movie, playing the token human character who gets caught between two supernatural groups.

LAZY WORK?

In Hollywood, many projects may be copycats of each other, but this is strange because it is not even stealing ideas because “Underworld” and “I, Frankenstein” share the same producers and story architect (Kevin Grevioux). 

Instead, this reeks of a lazy attempt at taking an old product, making some minor cosmetic changes and then selling the repackaged product.

Two bright spots in the movie do exist : Strahovski and Bill Nighy.

The actress plays electro-physicist Terra, who works on discovering methods to re-animate corpses to bring them to life. She doesn't know that she works for a demon, she unwittingly becomes part of a supernatural throwdown between multiple parties.

Nighy, in an uncharacteristically humourless role, has a surprisingly strong presence as the big villain of the piece.

Watch this if you like dark stuff and some decent action scenes. Or, you may just turn on cable TV for the umpteenth viewing of ‘Underworld’. 

‘I, Frankenstein’ is now showing in cinemas