Susan Granger's review of 'I, Frankenstein'
Published 5:43 pm, Friday, February 7, 2014
Since it was published in 1818, Mary Shelley's classic literary creation has had many screen incarnations but few as ridiculous as Stuart Beattie's convoluted concept of using him as an invaluable pawn in the perennial battle between good and evil, represented by gargoyles and demons.
Beginning with the monster (Aaron Eckhart) burying his creator, the story catapults forward to the present-day. Wandering the world alone and pursued by demons, he's dubbed Adam and offered shelter in a massive, medieval Gothic cathedral by Gargoyle Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto), who recognizes him as a fellow outsider, noting, "Humans think of us as mere decoration." What the fiery-eyed demons covet is the book that Adam carries with him. It's Dr. Victor Frankenstein's handwritten journal, detailing exactly how to create life. Their leader, nefarious Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy), has been collecting an army of soulless human corpses, which he plans to re-animate to obliterate mankind. To that end, he has created an impressive, high-tech laboratory run by an attractive electro-physicist, Terra (Yvonne Strahovski). Not surprisingly, she eventually allies with Adam, who spends an inordinate amount of time skulking in the shadows.
Humorlessly adapted by Australian writer/director Beattie from a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux (one of the creators of the "Underworld" franchise), it was filmed two years ago and set for release last February. Then it got pushed back to September and, eventually, dumped into a 2014 slot. Significantly, critics were excluded from all pre-release screenings.
Filled with reams of expository dialogue, choppily-edited fights, an invasive musical score and lots of CGI-enhanced transformations, it resembles an incoherent video game. When demons die, they descend in spiraling fireballs, while defeated gargoyles ascend directly into heaven through rapturous blue lights. Aside from his glowering, grimacing and growling, Eckhart obviously has spent endless hours at the gym to achieve his admirably ripped physique, and it's apparent that Nighy is just collecting a paycheck.
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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "I, Frankenstein" is a mind-numbing 2. Mary Shelley must be spinning in her grave.