Well for those of you who ever read Mary Shelley’s classic tale Frankenstein in high school and thought to yourself “this is good, but it would be better if the monster looked like Aaron Eckhart and fought evil instead,” I have some good news. Your prayers (yes, prayers) have been answered.
“But what about the eternal struggle between demons and gargoyles” you ask, “shouldn’t that be in the movie too?”
What do you think they’re idiots? Who would ever make a Frankenstein movie without that? That would be like Lassie without the boy in a well. Titanic without the infectious music of Celine Dion! Twilight without the endlessly needy female lead!?!
I, Frankenstein begins with its title monster explaining in a voiceover—yes, he’s already a more articulate monster than he’s been in previous iterations—his origins as a corpse turned monster with a heart of gold… or more accurately electricity. You know, that age old classic of man creates monster, doesn’t like monster, so monster takes revenge and kills man.
As he goes to bury his creator though, Frankenstein’s monster is thrown into the middle of a war raging between demons and gargoyles.
Apparently, the demons want Frankenstein for something and the gargoyles don’t want it to happen… or something. I don’t know, it was all pretty stupid.
The plot itself is mainly just an excuse to shuffle from battle to battle anyway. Frankly, I spent most of the movie just trying to, well, care.
Part of the problem is that none of the characters in the movie feel all that relatable. I don’t need too much here—this is primarily an action movie—but for at least the first third of the movie we don’t see much outside of supernatural beings and they don’t have a ton of the same problems I do.
Add to that the fact that outside of his voiceovers Frankenstein is not much of a talker and you have a rather dull lead and no supporting characters to pick up the slack.
In fact, it takes probably until the end of the second act for I, Frankenstein to reveal its monster’s motivation at all and by that time I’d completely stopped caring. If anything the revelation felt a little put on considering for the majority of the film before that all the character seemed to want to do was fight and brood.
But let’s be honest here; no one was going to see I, Frankenstein for the tightly written characters or taut analysis of the human condition. It’s an action movie first and foremost.
The problem is it doesn’t even really succeed at that.
None of the big action set pieces are particularly inspired. I’m hard pressed to even remember a single scene that stood out to me. All of them just seem to blend together.
The CGI is nothing special. And the 3D is completely superfluous. For all the people out there already cynical about the technology, I, Frankenstein will pretty much confirm all of your worst suspicions.
Likewise, for all my talk of how the plot really just shuffles from action sequence to action sequence, there sure does seem to be a lot of it. The backstories of these two warring factions are just so ungrounded it feels like every plot point needs a ridiculous amount of explanation.
Of course, elaborate backstories are certainly fine when they’re done with care, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case here. For instance, I honestly couldn’t even tell you what city this was happening in. And while the concept of electricity must have been pretty ground breaking in Mary Shelley’s day, it doesn’t have the same magic now as it did then.
Watching modern day scientists run through dialogue about how many joules they need to reanimate a corpse just feels uninspired.
Then there’s the fact that this secret war that is raging on has to be the least secret secret war I’ve ever seen. Every time these two sides fight it looks like they’re putting on an elaborate fireworks display.
How dumb are the humans in this world that they don’t notice this? How does this not make the news every single night?
I, Frankenstein is not all that good of a movie, that is for certain. But usually a bad movie is capable of evoking a more visceral reaction. All I can muster is indifference. I, Frankenstein is just boring and derivative, and frankly not all that fun. You’ll probably enjoy the daydreaming it will inevitably inspire a whole lot more.
Final Score: 1/5