I, Frankenstein is, unfortunately, everything we’ve come to expect from a supernatural action/fantasy B-movie smack in the middle of the “January dumping ground.”
The plot picks up right around where Mary Shelley left off. Frankenstein’s nameless monster, the first synthetic human, (Aaron Eckhart) witnesses his creator die of exposure in the Arctic and brings the body back to the Frankenstein family’s ancestral cemetery. When he’s attacked by otherworldly forces, he finds himself suddenly embroiled in an ancient war between gargoyles and demons.
The central problem is that the demons want to reanimate thousands of human corpses in order to possess them and take over the Earth. (Whether it’s Doctor Doom or Satan, I always wonder that the hell people are thinking when they decide they want to rule the world.) Frankenstein’s monster is supposed to be key to this process, but by the time the demons and gargoyles are fighting over him, the demons have already figured out how to reanimate dead bodies anyway. (Hint: amp it up.) So why go to all that trouble over the monster?
Well, because it’s a bad movie. There, I said it. I, Frankenstein sucks in pretty much every possible way except one – it’s classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 fare.
Aaron Eckhart appears to have actually taken his role very seriously, which is unfortunate because he’s an awful action hero and awesome because he’s inadvertently hilarious. (Watch for the exaggerated way he flinches whenever anyone tries to be nice to him!) Yvonne Strahovski also puts her best foot forward as the monster’s scientist love interest. The rest of the characters look like they were late to a casting call for a better movie and couldn’t wait to be out of there. Queen Leonore, head of the gargoyles, (Miranda Otto) leads the mighty charge of goofiness without any real enthusiasm.
The gargoyles look pretty good, as do the fiery demon deaths, but the point where the production ran out of money for special effects is obvious: the demons are clearly dudes in rubber masks. (In some shots, you can actually see the edges of the darn things. Hooray for 3-D!)
Incidentally, that 3-D magic that makes some movies great and others mediocre makes this one far worse. The director appears not to have considered the audience’s perspective, since he consistently catches the backs of peoples’ heads in giant, hyper-annoying Fuzz-D covering one side of the screen or the other.
Frankly, I needed a pair of snarky robot friends to watch this film with me. If you’ve got a few willing suckers handy, then give it a go! Have fun storming the cathedral. But for the love of the real Frankenstein, don’t shell out to see it at the movies. Go read the comic instead and wait for this turkey to come out streaming on Netflix.
1 out of 5 stars.