I, FRANKENSTEIN picks up where Mary Shelley left off, with the the doctor (Aden Young, SNIPER) dying in the Arctic trying to kill the creature (Aaron Eckhart, PAYCHECK). Then it skips ahead to the current day, and there is much evidence* to support that if Shelley had lived 163 years longer she would’ve continued the story in the same way: with “the modern Prometheus” as an immortal who wears cool fingerless gloves and a hoodie under a jacket and is good at fighting and has two magic batons because he’s at the center of an ancient war between demons and gargoyles. *
It takes place in the great city of Greenscreensboro, where it’s always night and swarms of CGI flying guys sweep down and fight mobs of fast running demons – basically just dudes with monster heads who wear leather jackets and do martial arts (fight coordinator: Ray Anthony, SON OF THE MASK). I think this is supposed to be a “the world you live in is just a sugar-coated topping” type secret war situation, but there seem to be almost no regular people in the city to ever witness anything, or to wonder why there’s a gargantuan cathedral with a non-Christian symbol on top towering over the city with guys dressed like extras from 300 constantly going in and out.
The Queen of the Gargoyles (Miranda Otto, HUMAN NATURE) names the monster Adam and offers him her protection, but he’s a loner, so he takes off. Centuries later, some “electro-physiologists” get ahold of Dr. Frankenstein’s diary, so Adam goes in and gets it and then jumps through a window. One major human character is the scientist Terra Wade (Yvonne Strahovski, KILLER ELITE) who doesn’t realize she’s working for demons (or that they exist) until she starts helping Adam Frankenstein try to get the book.
Bill Nighy (VALKYRIE) plays a billionaire who’s actually the demon prince Naberius. Jai Courtney (A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD) plays a gargoyle commander named Gideon. So you pretty much have the full range of acting there. (Just kidding. I kinda like Jai Courtney. He just has ended up in some bad movies.)
With all its generic digital slickness I assumed this would be from some director of commercials, but actually it’s Stuart Beatty, writer of COLLATERAL and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. His screenplay is “story by” and “based on the graphic novel by” Kevin Grievoux, the actor who plays the deep-voiced demon bodyguard and created the UNDERWORLD series. He seems to be a big nerd for mixing together obvious fantasy/role playing type tropes into generic movie stew. It has the artificial metropolis of THE CROW (and UNDERWORLD) plus the fakey animated monster battles of VAN HELSING with the monarchic warring monster races of UNDERWORLD (but with swords) and the acrobatic monster fights of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or BLADE and then the discovery of an enormous machine of hanging corpses very similar to the battery machine in THE MATRIX. This is the demonic scheme: to create an army of Frankensteins to be possessed by demons (?). Anyway, this part offers my favorite laugh-out-loud ludicrous detail: each of the thousands of bodies are in a steam punk type container affixed with a digital readout: 1% REANIMATION.
According to Wikipedia, “Eckhart and Otto trained for three months with martial arts experts Ron Balicki and Diana Lee Inosanto in the Filipino martial art of Kali for their fight scenes.” It shouldn’t seem this goofy to see respectable supporting actor Eckhart as an action hero. He’s handsome, and in good shape (he goes shirtless and has ridiculous abs), but slow-motion-jumping-Frankenstein seems so beneath him. This isn’t doing him any more favors than JONAH HEX did for James Brolin. Actually, less. Brolin was pretty cool in that one, you could see the potential, but not with this one. Maybe if it wasn’t such a corny idea then Eckhart’s big starring vehicle would’ve changed how we look at him. I don’t know. I don’t know everything. I haven’t read Frankenstein’s journal.
The title is funny to me because onscreen it doesn’t have a comma in it. It’s like “You Jane, I Frankenstein.” Your other complaint is actually a topic of the movie: he has to come to terms with being called Frankenstein, the name of his “father,” who he killed. And yes, I do believe he says the title out loud at the very end. You’ll get a kick out of it.
I don’t think there’s much in I, FRANKENSTEIN that I enjoyed in the spirit it was intended, but at times it’s a pretty funny stupid movie.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.