Question: What kind of person goes to see “I, Frankenstein” at 9:30 p.m. on a Monday?
Answer: Me, and only me. And as I sat in the movie theater, alone, stewing in self-pity and wondering where it all went wrong, I felt a great solidarity with Aaron Eckhart (“Olympus Has Fallen”), who is likely asking himself the same question at this point in his career. And if he isn’t, he probably should be, because “I, Frankenstein” blows.
An adaptation of an allegedly popular graphic novel, “I, Frankenstein” offers an alternate take on Mary Shelley’s classic tale, namely one stripped of any literary merit. It features Frankenstein’s Monster, Adam (Eckhart) as a pawn in an eternal battle between demons and gargoyles. The demons wish to capture Adam so they can unlock the secrets of his reanimation and create an army of soulless corpses that can be possessed by their fallen. The gargoyles oscillate between trying to destroy Adam and recruiting him for his fearful ability to smash demon face. There’s also a doctor (Yvonne Strahovski, “Killer Elite”) working for the demon shell company (tactfully unnamed, but probably Google) as a research scientist whose interest in Adam might be more than scientific. However, the true substance of the movie is Adam beating the poorly rendered shit out of poorly-animated, pixelated demon ass.
I understand that there is a place for movies like this. I don’t always want to meditate on the intricacies of the human condition or immerse myself in the depths of existential agony. Sometimes, I just want to watch a demon’s face get melted off with holy water. There is a niche for gratuitous, vigilante violence. But this movie is so poorly executed that I found myself laughing throughout the entire film at the horrible dialogue and clunky exposition. The acting is bland, unless you count Aaron Eckhart, who is supposed to be playing a soulless corpse. Indeed, Eckhart’s fidelity to lifelessness should easily net him an Oscar nomination. His only discernible emotion is “vindictive loner,” and the number of times his character shouts that he’s “going his own way” could easily be made into a drinking game.
We are ceaselessly reminded that Frankenstein is completely alone in the world, having been rejected by his creator, human society in general, gargoyles and demons. In fact, a better name for the movie might be “Everyone Dumps on Frankenstein,” until – spoiler alert – he discovers at the end of the movie that he actually had a soul all along. But this creates problems. If Adam has a soul, then so will every corpse that the demons reanimate. And, if they’re anything like Adam, these souls will be bitter, tormented, vindictive toward their creators and possess super-powered bodies. They will not only fail to resurrect their fallen soldiers, but create an unstoppable army of demon-killing Frankenmen, which actually sounds like a pretty cool concept.
In the end, the best metaphor for “I, Frankenstein” might be the monster itself. It is a lumbering monstrosity, crudely stitched together and artificially alive. Save yourselves; it’s too late for me.
1 out of 5 stars