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I, Frankenstein (2014)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

I, FRANKENSTEIN (2014)

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Bill Nighy, Mirando Otto, Jai Courtney

Written By: Stuart Beattie (also story), Kevin Grevioux (story and grtaphic novel)

Directed By: Stuart Beattie

The Shot

I, Frankenstein is a prime example of “interesting concept meets poor execution.”  Casual viewers needn’t bother unless they’re sick on the couch; for dedicated fans of classic horror characters, this is strictly streaming service fodder.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

SCHOOL CAFETERIA GRILLED CHEESE.

It’s edible, but someone really screwed up, and that should have been impossible.


Pairs Well With...

ROLLING ROCK.

Cheap beer that lends itself to bad gargoyle jokes.

“It’s alive.  It’s alive!”


When, early on, a character who is definitely not Victor Frankenstein was given logical cause to speak those words, I had hope for the story of I, Frankenstein, and the possibility that perhaps the mainstream had gotten it wrong when this flick absolutely tanked during its exceptionally brief box office run.

Hope lasted less than half a drink into a two drink minimum.

I, Frankenstein is a prime example of an intriguing concept that gets ruined by poor execution.  A potentially incredible world is introduced – one where gargoyles and demons wage a secret war over the fate of humanity, and Victor Frankenstein’s monster (Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight) holds the key to upsetting the centuries-old balance – only to be immediately cast aside in favor of… something, where “something” equals turning Frankenstein’s monster into an angry hobo with a pair of clubs who doesn’t particularly like anyone.  (Not that one can really blame him, since neither the gargoyles not the demons are ever particularly straight with him; had they been, a whole lot of rage beating could have been avoided.)  The upside of this is that the visual effects to which audiences are treated when demons or gargoyles are killed – a wicked column of descending flame or a shimmering flash of ascending white light, respectively – are quite pretty to look at; the downside is that while all of these beatings are happening, the movie as a whole ends up suffering the same affliction as its title character: soullessness.

Eventually, Hobo Frankenstein scours the demons’ basement and discovers a plot they refurbished from the remains of Van Helsing, and once again, I, Frankenstein has the opportunity to work on some level… but once again, the opportunity is squandered in favor of more backbiting by the still-mistrustful gargoyles.  (They are supposed to be the good guys, right?)  There’s a reasonably nice human who shows up in the middle of all of this (unwittingly working for the bad guys, of course), but…  Are you tired yet?  I know I am.  Because really, there’s only so much of Aaron Eckhart’s mumbling and grimacing that I can take.

And I know that gorgeous cathedral the effects department came up with – it’s magnificent enough to be considered the highlight of the film, really – is supposed to hold my attention along with the aforementioned death effects during battle sequences, but it’s rather difficult to not notice how childishly silly the gargoyles and demons look when appearing in their “true” (i.e. non-human VFX) forms.  Besides, as a famous director once said, a special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing, and cool though the concept may be, the paper-thin reality of this “story” feels an awful lot like a simple excuse to show off some special effects.

What makes all of the above even sadder to behold is that many of the same creative minds brought the much more interesting universe of Underworld to the screen years before.  It’s no accident the several members of the demon cast look familiar; indeed, had I, Frankenstein not imploded at the box office, there was talk of merging this story with that of the vampires and werewolves of the Underworld storyline.  (How well this might have actually played – especially given the repeat casting – is an iffy matter that we’re all probably better off never finding out.)  But again, a premise can only take a movie so far, and this story just isn’t as tight or anywhere near as finished as Underworld; nor does its director have the same touch for pacing and atmosphere as Len Wiseman, nor does Aaron Eckhart prove any sort of match for Kate Beckinsale’s anything.  When all is said and done, Hobo Frankenstein has nothing on leather vampires or shirtless werewolves.

And so, by the time the final line of voice over dialogue ham-handedly forced the narrator to say the movie’s title out loud, I’d been ready for the credits to roll for at least half an hour… which is pretty sad for a ninety-odd minute movie.

I wanted to enjoy I, Frankenstein.  I truly did.  But interesting though the premise may be, pretty much everything else about the movie is a soulless, flaming wreck, making it easy to skip for casual audiences and “free on the streaming service only” material for diehard fans of classic horror characters.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2015


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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