Movie Review: I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein movie still - aaron eckhart

Ironically “soulless” like the titular character, perhaps even a school kid could’ve written a better ‘I, Frankenstein’ script than Stuart Bettie

So, Hollywood has done it again, this time it’s a fantasy action flick that’s based on a graphic novel that’s based on a classic novel. I haven’t read Kevin Grevioux’s graphic novel but after watching the film, I don’t think I’d ever be interested to do so. I, Frankenstein is like an episode of a classic-exploiting teenage-targeted TV-series (that’s worse than Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD which I’ve given up on). Who would’ve thought Stuart Bettie (the director and writer of the movie) was still capable of writing a worse script than he did for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)?

In a sacred war on Earth between heaven and hell, where God only sent a bunch of gargoyles (and they “can’t question his purpose”) to protect the world, comes Frankenstein’s monster (Aaron Eckhart) who’s caught in the middle of everything and is wanted by the demons for being the living formula of reanimation of the dead. Despite his sins of killing his creator’s wife, he’s randomly named Adam and is given a second chance by Leonord (Miranda Otto) the leader of gargoyles to live and find his path. Without any sort of attempt to develop the characters, all of that is shown at the beginning as the introduction, just like a TV or cartoon series’ brief recap on their previous episodes. And it’s narrated by the protagonist himself so yeah, mysteriousness and coolness out the window immediately from the start. Using his unexplained super strength and speed (and inconsistencies), he chooses to live his lonely life hunting down demons his own way without thinking of the consequences and hence contradicts the ways of the angel gargoyles as well.

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Aaron Eckhart hasn’t really been known for great acting and his performance here as the classic fictional creature turned demon-descending antihero (basically someone who kicks demons’ asses) only proves that he’s just not suitable for these kind of lead roles that requires impactful and engaging presence. Absolutely uninspiring, just like the rest of the cast including Bill Nighy, who terrifies nobody with his British-ness as the antagonist demon leader Prince Naberius. Why the heck did they hire such a small actor like Eckhart for the role anyway? They should’ve had some cool factor for the character or at least make him look less ordinary.

The story typically progresses like a video game but with no fun at all. Adam fights a bunch of demons and then some smaller bosses before facing the final big boss, which is disappointingly a quick, stationary and convenient battle. There are plenty of dumb parts, inconsistencies and plot holes as expected (click ‘Show Spoiler’ below this paragraph to read some of them). The dialogues are as though they were taken right out of the comic book’s speech bubbles. Guess they didn’t have a very creative action choreographer? The action sequences are really unexciting, it’s like watching a bunch of poorly animated fragile creatures flying around turning each other to ashes (damn you, PG-13 movies!). However, I won’t complain about the poor CGI since $68 million wasn’t exactly a high budget, but it does indeed look cheap, and it was very absurd of them to have chosen to produce the film in this approach.

1. Angel gargoyles here seem to be unhappy when they die and ascend to heaven.
2. Angel gargoyles here can request to be not saved from dying and still ascend to heaven. Isn’t it a sin to not at least try to stay alive to honour the order by god to protect the mortal world?
3. Sometimes Adam Frankenstein is indestructible, sometimes not. He can fall through a subway and land on a train like it’s nothing in one scene, and then later scene he gets seriously injured falling onto flat ground from similar height. He’s supposed to be fuckin’ strong but in some scenes, he struggles to pull himself up onto his feet. This is what I mean by inconsistencies.
4. At the end, it seems that the reason Adam Frankenstein decides to fight with the gargoyles for mankind as his higher purpose is only because he has a little crush on the chick scientist Terra (Yvonne Strahovski).
5. Souls cannot possess a host that already has a soul so Prince Naberius’ plan is to get Frankenstein’s reanimation formula to give life to his army of dead bodies so that souls from hell can possess them. But why does he even need to do so when he himself and all the other current demons could come onto Earth presumably without possessing anybody? And why is he even so sure in the first place that reanimating a dead corpse could give everyone of them great strength?
6. For no valid reason, Leonord hides away Frankenstein’s notebook (which contains the reanimation formula) from Adam instead of just destroying it. If she had destroyed it at the beginning, much troubles could’ve been avoided.

You know how most action or superhero movies tend to end with the protagonist(s) standing on the rooftop of a building at night with his voice-over reassuring the audience that he is the titular character? Yup, this one too. The entire movie’s so cliched and cheesy that it’s not even funny. Initially I wanted to draw comparisons to movies like Constantine (2005), Van Helsing (2004) and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) due their similarities in genre, but I, Frankenstein‘s just another level of garbage. And I believe the producers and distributors know it too, hence the review embargo.

What I would’ve named the film: “iAdam (Season 2 finale: two-episode special)”

Censorship in Malaysia: There were awkward skips in some scenes at the press screening but I’m not sure if it’s due to censorship or just poor editing. There shouldn’t be much to cut anyway for movies that are classified P13 (PG-13).

Second opinion: My girlfriend, on the other hand, thought that it isn’t too bad and the CGI’s pretty cool but wasn’t emotionally attached to the titular protagonist at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the only person in the whole world who’d say it’s not a bad movie.

Verdict: Everyone involved with this production deserves a death choke from the original Frankenstein’s monster. If you’re not a fan of cheesy and cliched action flicks that tend release in the first quarter of the every year, bet you were already disinterested by the trailer itself. Not sure if it could even satisfy the young moviegoers.

Rating: 1 / 5

I, Frankenstein movie poster malaysia release starring aaron eckhart
Based on: Graphic novel ‘I, Frankenstein’ by Kevin Grevioux
Rated: P13
Genre: Action, fantasy
Running Time: 92 minutes
Director-writer: Stuart Beattie
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney

Malaysia Release Date: January 23rd 2014
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Production Studio(s): Lakeshore Entertainment, Hopscotch Features, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

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  1. Lim Eunice

    I've always, always enjoy your direct, honest review about movies.. Guess I can give this movie a skip. Thanks for sharing the details on why I shouldn't be watching. . .;D

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