By Steven Panzarella (@ProCreateSteve)
The Short- Comic book movies and book adaptations have ruled over the box office with an iron fist, but if you were looking for an example of a comic book series that did not need a film adaptation then look no further then I, Frankenstein. A poorly scripted and dialogue heavy mess that does not take advantage of what could have made an interesting story. Aaron Eckhart huffs and puffs through every scene, emotionless and humorless and just about the actor’s most bland performance.
We live in a world of comic book, graphic novel, and book adaptations. So many in fact that we were likely to come up on more than one that had you scratch your head and say “now that I’m saying this all out loud it doesn’t work”. This is probably what someone should have said to the people behind I, Frankenstein. Following each mention of the Demon vs. Gargoyle plot I couldn’t help but hear chuckles coming from the 4 other people sitting around me. This wasn’t because something funny happened on screen ( you would be lucky to find even an ounce of humor come from anyone on screen) It was because each time you hear “Gargoyle” or “Gargoyle queen” it felt forced like watching someone take themselves just a little too seriously.
I’m a fan of the graphic novel as much as the next guy. V for Vendetta still did it better than most, creating a character we could both admire and fear. A character that had charisma but still planned for vengeance, V was relatable and he was fighting for something, something that we understood. I, Frankenstein, unlike V for Vendetta forgets it was first spawned from a graphic novel, and that people who are not fans of that work are going to have to watch it. They begin the film with the story of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein; briefly combing over that sequence to get us to what they considered the juicy storylines. The monster gets his vengeance on the good doctor and his wife, before the action begins. Following that sequence I, Frankenstein begins. We learn that the monster is thrust into a war between demons trying to claim his body to understand how he was brought to life and The Gargoyles who have made it their duty to stop the demon hoard (Still with me?). Frankenstein’s Monster is taken to the Gargoyle queen (A campy Miranda Otto) who instead of killing the monster, oddly names him Adam then sets him free as long as he agrees to help fight in group’s war.
I, Frankenstein’s cast is a small one with Eckhart in the lead role, Otto as the head of the Gargoyles, the underutilized Bill Nighy in the villain role and NBC’s Chuck veteran Yvonne Strahovski who plays a doctor trying to discover how to recreate the original work of Frankenstein. Nighy played the crazy villain well in Underworld and this character seems very similar to that but manages to be nothing more than the final battle for our hero. Aaron Eckhart is a good actor who is coming off a string of less than stellar action films that include Battle: Los Angeles, Olympus has Fallen, and Erased. He follows those three up with a like performance, never delving into the emotional intricacies of his character. Even if you got a halfway decent performance from any of the actors in this film, you still would have been at the mercy of a humorless, emotionless mess of a film script that never shares with the audience what the actual point is. We are thrust into this battle between Gargoyles and Demons with Frankenstein’s monster battling for one side then battling both sides then back to team gargoyle and not once are we told why. In fact there was more of a reason for those Scooby Doo crossover episodes like “Scooby Doo Meets Batman” then there was for I, Frankenstein.
The film is written and directed by Stuart Beattie (Collateral, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) who helms his first major motion picture which maybe explains why a film like this seemed so lost. An action movie with a shoddy script and bad special effects maybe just what happens when a screen writer turned director bites off a little more than he can chew. Either way I, Frankenstein suffers from one too many deficiencies to be considered anything in the realm of even an awesomely bad movie. It’s just not a very good movie and I’ll keep it at that.