Sunday, May 24, 2015

"I, Frankenstein" (2014)

Starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski
Written and directed by Stuart Beattie
Rated PG-13 — Fantasy violence, language
Running Time: 92 Minutes

Frankenstein's monster, called "Adam" (Aaron Eckhart), has been alive now for more than two hundred years. In that time, he has been hunted by the demon forces of Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy). After an encounter with the Gargoyle Order, Adam learns of a centuries-long secret war between the forces of Hell and the gargoyles, who defend mankind.

Not wanting any part in the war, Adam retreated from human society and trained himself to fight with the weapons of the gargoyles. Now, in modern times, he has returned, having decided to take the fight to Niberius. Leonore (Miranda Otto), queen of the gargoyles, wants to understand what it is Niberius wants with Adam, but her second in command, Gideon (Jai Courtney) wants Adam destroyed.

Meanwhile, Niberius, under his human guise as head of the Wessex Institute, has been funding Dr. Terra Wade's (Yvonne Strahovski) research into the work of Dr. Viktor Frankenstein, hoping to recreate it. Unknown to Wade, she's become a pawn in the war between demons and gargoyles, and if her work succeeds, one which could lead to the destruction of all mankind.


I'm not sure if the graphic novel upon which "I, Frankenstein" is based is any good. I've never read it. Though, I wouldn't put much faith in that, since it's by the same author I can say that while the film version has some entertainment value, it is... not good. Competently made, but no more than that, with a screenplay that thankfully doesn't waste much time getting to the goods, it is a cinematic bowl of sugary cereal.

Despite the presence of a talented cast, no one seems to really give much of a damn. Eckhart growls all of his lines. All of them. Yvonne Strahovski doesn't show up until halfway through the movie, and even then she seems like the movie doesn't really know what to do with her. Bill Nighy seems to be having a bit of fun, hamming it up for the paycheck, but he doesn't have much to do other than to stand around and deliver some snark. Miranda Otto and Jai Courtney sail through the film with a decent amount of bluster, but not much heft.

The script feels perfunctory, as though it's content to merely present its concepts (which are interesting, in a cheesy, comic book-ish sort of way) and then some action sequences and then be done with it. None of it is poorly made in any way; the action sequences aren't confusing, the special effects are decent (I wouldn't call them good), even the musical score is just functional.

"Functional" is probably the best way to describe this movie entirely. It's all very dumb, to be sure, but in that goofy sort of way that I can usually get behind. As a time waster, "I, Frankenstein" isn't so bad. And that's probably because it never really had the potential to be anything much more than that. The talent behind the camera, the folks behind the equally dumb "Underworld" series, didn't inspire me to much confidence to begin with.

"I, Frankenstein" streams on Netflix, and if you've got nothing better then that's really where this film belongs. It is not appointment viewing, by any stretch. It's goofy and stupid and it's over in a flash, so... whatever.

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