Friday, April 3, 2015

I, Frankenstein Review

I'm sure some movies sound much better on paper than they do on screen. I'm sure that some movies start out as half-baked ideas and then get put into production before those ideas can be solidified into something coherent. And I'm sure some studios count on flashy special effects to hide the fact that the movie makes no sense. After seeing I, Frankenstein (2014) I am confident that all of these were the case for this outlandish and ludicrous movie.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein dies frozen to death and the creature he created buries him at the Frankenstein family cemetery. Immediately following the burial, the creature is attacked by demons. He kills one of them and is rescued by a band of Gargoyles who take him to a Cathedral where the Gargoyles Order gathers. The Queen of the Gargoyles, Leonore (Mirando Otto), keeps Dr. Frankenstein's journal together with the treasures of the Order and gives the name of Adam (Aaron Eckhart) to the creature. She then explains to Adam that there is an ancient war between the angelic Gargoyles and the demons whom are under the command of the demon Prince Neberius (Bill Nighy). She also invites Adam to join the Gargoyles in the war against the demons, but Adam prefers to isolate himself in a remote place. Two hundred years later, Adam returns and finds a modern society. Soon he learns that Naberius has the intention of creating an army of soulless corpses to be possessed by demons. The scientist Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) is researching a process to create life and Naberius is seeking Dr. Frankenstein's Journal to help Terra raise his army.
If that summary didn't sound stupid enough, let me explain further why this movie is so dumb.
We establish early on that this is a secret war that has been going on for centuries, and it must be hidden from the humans. For starters, I don't understand why it should be kept from humans. The world is at risk of being overrun by demonic forces who will destroy the world for some reason; if that reason was addressed, I must have missed it. The angelic gargoyles' numbers are low and need all the help they can get. Why keep humans out of it? And why do the demons agree to this rule of the secret war? They seem to avoid making a spectacle in front of humans as well. Furthermore, where are the humans anyway? When Adam returns to civilization we see him taking in how society has changed by seeing him stand amidst about eight people in a cramped alleyway. There is one human apart from Terra who gets maybe two lines before being killed by a demon, and that's it. The movie takes place primarily in a sprawling metropolis that doesn't seem to be inhabited by anyone. Most of the buildings we see are dilapidated, abandoned wrecks. Who is this war being hidden from?
Another weird thing is Frankenstein's creature. Most movies have depicted him as a lumbering awkward hulking monster, and reasonably so being a creature made up of mismatched body parts. But here he mostly looks like some muscular pretty guy with some stitches here and there. Frankenstein's monster wasn't meant to be an action hero, and this movie unintentionally proves it. I like Aaron Eckhart as an actor, but he just never struck me as a "Frankenstein" sort of person and he certainly doesn't look like one in this movie. I've also seek Eckhart play some fantastic roles, one of my favorites being Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight. You can see in his eyes his desperate attempt to make this movie work. He looks like he thinks the script sucks and doing his utmost to save it by acting his part really well. But the script doesn't lend itself to depth of character, theme, or story and Eckhart's acting ends up seeming desperate and overcompensating. I did like that Adam was not taking sides, he was kind of a wild card that could tip the balance of the war either way, but he still sticks to what he wants and to his own set of morality. This isn't terribly interesting or unique; it's a action hero trope that works, and it worked just fine here even if it was applied to a completely out of place character from classic literature.
This was a fairly low budget movie with a lot of very busy CGI artist. The special effects were alright overall. The gargoyles looked pretty good when not in human form. The demons in demon form looked a bit silly; like people wearing silicone movie monster masks. The action was decent, though sometimes hard to take seriously even for otherworldly beings with supernatural strength. It reminded me a lot of Van Helsing; it featured lots of CGI with actors in front of green screens. Van Helsing was stupid, but fun, and admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine. I, Frankenstein is just stupid. It can't be considered a guilty pleasure; just guilty.
I, Frankenstein was visually loud, with an incoherent story which made little sense, and was tedious to watch. The cast is made up of actors I've seen perform much better in other movies. Many of them seem to be trying to salvage this train wreck of a script, but the script simply gives them garbage to work with. I truly didn't care about any of the characters nor how the story concluded. I, Frankenstein wasn't just bad, it was REALLY bad. It's the kind of movie whose only redeeming value it to watch it with a bunch of friends with the sole intent of riffing and joking about it. This is not worth your time unless you want to make fun of it. As of writing this it's currently streaming on NetFlix, which is the only way it's worth watching; it's not even worth the cost to rent it.

What is one of your guilty pleasure movies? I'm a fan of Van Helsing and (brace yourself) Super Mario Bros. I owned up and told you mine, now comment below and tell me yours!


  1. My guilty pleasure is the Mummy series (yes, including all of the terrible/delightful/bad Scorpion King movies). I love them so much, even though I know I shouldn't. :)

    1. Actually, I rather like the first Mummy movie, but they were so bad after that I didn't bother with the last one.
      Thanks for your comments!

  2. There were some redeeming points and more logic errors.
    The demons were cast out after the war in heaven with Michael the Archangel? Wanted to posses human bodies? War in Heaven now fought on Earth; interesting underlying premise.
    In an interesting mimic of Ghost, then a good gargoyle dies, a blue beacon shoots to heaven; when a demon dies, a red-black swirl goes to hell. Wait a minute, aren't gargoyles made of animated rock while demons are non-corporeal? Does not seem like that would be much of a fight.
    Beautiful Gothic cathedral in the center of a metropolis with no apparent function other than housing gargoyles? Who pays the light bill and fixes all of the broken windows? Where is the building committee or janitor?
    Dr. Frankenstein's creation was named 'Adam' in Mary Shelly's book. Dr. Frankenstein froze to death, but there is an unclear end of Adam. So, in this movie he walks from Greenland to Germany carrying Dr. Frankenstein's corpse, not losing the book, but intends to bury it to keep it safe? Adam is an assemblage of human parts with some enhancements, but never eats?
    In this movie, Adam technically has no soul, since not created by God. Would not the recovered brain stitched into Adam's head bring a soul with it? No demons have tried to possess his soul-less body for these many years?
    Naberius has assembled a bazillion lifeless bodies in a huge building in this metropolis on the hope that Adam or Dr. Frankenstein's book would appear before the meat spoiled?
    So many errors that I can't go on any more. Super Dad