I give you GQ Frankenstein. Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski star in I, Frankenstein.
Cast of Characters:
Adam Frankenstein – Aaron Eckhart
Charles Wessex – Bill Nighy
Terra Wade – Yvonne Strahovski
Leonore – Miranda Otto
Zuriel – Socratis Otto
Gideon – Jai Courtney
Dekar – Kevin Grevioux
Director – Stuart Beattie
Screenplay – Stuart Beattie
Based on the graphic novel I, Frankenstein by Kevin Grevioux
Producer – Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Andrew Mason & Sidney Kimmel
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout
Back in the 18th century, Dr. Victor Frankenstein created a monster (Aaron Eckhart), which he rejected. In a fit of vengeful rage, the monster returned to kill Frankenstein’s wife and then escaped into the Arctic, where Dr. Frankenstein died, succumbing to the weather, while chasing after his creation.
Meanwhile, an ongoing battle between demons and gargoyles has the monster winding up in the center of the conflict. The demons want Frankenstein for the sole purpose of finding out how to harness the ability of reanimation, so that the demons can bring back to life a number of dead bodies to possess.
200 years later, the monster’s still kicking it with the demons and the gargoyles still fighting each other. Billionaire businessman Charles Wessex (Bill Nighy) has employed scientist Terra Wade (Yvonne Strahovski) to find a solution to reanimating the dead. The only way they can find one, though, is through Dr. Frankenstein’s journal or his creature.
I’m still not sure what the hell it was that I just watched.
This is the type of movie where those that love it scream at me that I should just shut my brain off and enjoy the film for what it is. Well, I tried that, but the plot is such a jumbled up mess I actually had to turn my brain back on to make any sense of what was going on. There’s demons and gargoyles fighting over this monster and when they demons get killed they burst into bright oranges flames as they descend into hell and the gargoyles burst into a bright, shiny blue light as they ascend into heaven. Get the difference between the two?
That, my friends, led me to conclude that this film is crap.
Funny thing is, even the studio backing this probably felt the same way, which is why it wasn’t screened for critics. That tells me the studio, in no way, shape or form, had any faith whatsoever in I, Frankenstein.
This obviously didn’t have me thinking, “What a disappointing film.”, but it is a disappointment for two reasons – Aaron Eckhart and writer/director Stuart Beattie. Eckhart is a great actor. In the Company of Men, Erin Brockovich, The Pledge, Towelhead, Thank You for Smoking, The Dark Knight, Eckhart certainly has had his crap-piles every now and then, but the man has carved out a nice resume that really highlights how great, even underrated, of an actor he is. What he saw in this, I really have no idea.
What the casting department saw in Eckhart, is an even bigger mystery. I don’t know how it qualifies you to be a “monster” when you can walk with a spring in your step, speak perfect English and girls are going berserk over your chiseled six-pack abs. Okay, sure, makeup and hairstyling threw in a couple scars and stitch markings to make you look “hideous”. Frankenstein’s monster shouldn’t be making me feel insecure about my looks. The townspeople wouldn’t be running this creature out of the village with torches and pitchforks. They’d probably be asking him what type of conditioner he uses for his hair or how he keeps his five o’clock stubble so smooth.
I can’t fault Eckhart for lack of trying. He tries his best here and it shows, a little too much even. I don’t know why he’d say in interviews that he tried to channel his inner “Heath Ledger with the Joker”, ’cause obviously I’m in the absolute extreme minority when I say it didn’t quite translate as well as Ledger’s performance. The problem, though, still isn’t him, but the horrendous script he was saddled with. I honestly don’t know how he was able to keep a straight face throughout the entirety of this film.
“I’m a demon prince! You will kneel before me!!!!”
“God will surely damn you.”
Wait for it… Wait for it. You need the dramatic pause. It’s essential here. Okay, now go and with a gruff voice that shows you really mean what you’re saying.
“… He already did.”
Let’s also not forget the countless number of times we’re reminded that Adam either “Seeks his own answers.”, “Follows his own path.” and “I am like no other.” We get it.
I’m just gonna come out and say everyone one of these performances merit Oscar nominations. To keep a straight face throughout all that laughable dialogue for that long has to be acting of the highest order.
Bill Nighy shows up and does what he does best: acting as menacing as he can be in a three-piece suit. I have a feeling he took one look at the script, asked how much he was getting paid, and then said, “Yep, I’m just gonna phone it in and enunciate every single word of dialogue here as if all my lines were bolded, underlined and italicized.”
Taking on the cliche role of the “attractive scientist” is Chuck and Dexter’s Yvonne Strahovski. Does her character have the brains of a scientist? That doesn’t matter. She’s wearing a lab coat and her hair is bunched up into a ponytail, so in the movie world that makes her a scientist. For being a scientist, though, you’d think it’d take her longer than 2 seconds to buy Adam’s explanation of the war between demons and gargoyles hook, line and sinker like she does.
“Well, Adam, I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like it’s – well, okay. I believe you.”
Just a teensy-tiny bit of skepticism, Yvonne. That’s all I’m asking.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, the second disappointing factor is Stuart Beattie, who co-wrote the first Pirates of the Caribbean film and also wrote the excellent Collateral, starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. It’s been downhill ever since then. To his credit, during the fight sequences, he wisely chooses more wider shots than the overused shaky-cam, slow-motion cam or tight closeups, which results in better choreographed fight scenes. That doesn’t redeem the horrible script, the poor character development and the sometimes poor CGI.
While I do respect Aaron Eckhart for being passionate about this, unlike other stars in the past who try to save face and run away from their bad film choices, this film is essentially Underworld (a much better movie – well, just the first one) but with demons and gargoyles, and Frankenstein’s monster just thrown in there. The fights are stylish at times, and the overall look has a certain Gothic feel that fits the theme, but that doesn’t take away the fact that the effects are at best mediocre, the characters are one-dimensional and the story tries way too hard to be something more than what it should be, ultimately falling apart. I, Frankenstein. I, Kinda Hated This Movie.
I give I, Frankenstein a D (★).
REVIEWS COMING LATER NEXT WEEK…
1/27/14 What the Hell Were They Thinking?!
1/28/14 Benjamin’s Stash
1/31/14 Labor Day
1/31/14 That Awkward Moment