What is the recipe for a monster? How about a few body parts constructed into one? Then grab hold of an abnormal brain to bring out the darkness of mankind. And finally, a bolt of lighting that has enough electricity to awaken a vehicle. It’s alive, it’s alive!
Victor Frankenstein created these famous words when his creation rose in a large and drafty laboratory. The story of Frankenstein remains on of my favorites, having read this in my twelfth grade English course. This was the kind of writing that I needed to persuade me that reading a book can give me thrills (especially in an age where movies and the internet have already desensitized me).
Frankenstein is also a monster that has been featured in many adaptations for film. One of them happens to be the famous 1931 classic of the same name that featured Boris Karloff as the iconic creature. In black and white Karloff gave us something that was menacing and unholy, yet sensitive and scared. Nearly worthy of the same status is the 1957 Hammer remake, The Curse of Frankenstein, with
Christopher Lee as the monster.
Now, instead of a retelling, the monster is put in the middle of a spiritual war in I, Frankenstein.
The movie’s opening has the most recognizable parts as it recounts the doctor’s famous resurrection of the creature, the death of his wife, and the demise in the Artic.
The monster (played by Aaron Eckhart) does the honorable thing of burying his master when he’s attacked by demons. He fights them off well until he’s rescued by two people that reveal themselves to be human gargoyles whose mission is to rid the world of creatures from the fiery underworld. The Gargoyle Queen (played by Miranda Otto) dubs Frankenstein’s monster the name Adam and offers him a place to fight alongside them. Adam declines and leaves.
Centuries pass and Adam watches the world age and modernize, while he remains the same, stitches and all. An attack at a nightclub sends Adam back to a big cathedral where the gargoyles give him the same offer. Meanwhile, a demon named Helek (played by Bill Nighy) is disguised as a billionaire businessman who is using his team of scientists to figure the formula to recreate the famous doctor’s resurrection of corpses.
Before Adam can decline once more the Gargoyle Queen is kidnapped, forcing the monster to fight off more demons and to prevent Helek from cracking the code.
Let me guess your reaction – “Is this for real?” Yes, I, Frankenstein is an honest story about a war between demons and gargoyles with a Frankenstein monster thrown in the middle. I’m not even sure how the team behind this was able to get this monster of an idea even green lit. Which is fine, but how is it? It’s bad. It’s not just bad, it’s spectacularly bad. This is the kind of movie that makes you question if the director knew what he was doing.
The acting is either over-acted with Bill Nighy and the gargoyles, or under-acted with Aaron Eckhart looking stiffer than the Boris Karloff monster from 1931. The story constantly weaves back and forth never answering if the novel is in place, what the rules of spiritual warfare are, nor why the demons can’t simply invade living human bodies like in The Exorcist (major plot hole). Even the design and effects aren’t impressive. The cathedral is beautiful, but never do you see anyone worship inside. The town has a nice European look, but it never establishes how people can live and work there. Even the fiery explosions look unbelievably fake and computer generated (the ice in Frozen looked more three dimensional than this).
I’ll give this half an abnormal brain out of five. I, Frankenstein is the kind of bad that only comes every so often. What I mean is that it’s so unbelievably produced that it’s actually funny. I found myself snickering through most of the movie. So in a way, I certainly had fun sitting through this. Like The Roomor Battlefield Earth, this will certainly find its own fans of people looking for interesting trash cinema.
Robert T. Nickerson is a film critic. His work can be seen at mastermindfilmproductions.com.