I, Frankenstein review: beware, for it is pointless

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I Frankenstein red light Aaron Eckhart

It’s alive! In a technical sense: images flicker on the screen, etc. But it is a soulless, unholy monstrosity. Behold: the movie without a protagonist!
I’m “biast” (pro): the basic premise has possibilities; I like Eckhart a lot

I’m “biast” (con): the trailer didn’t inspire hope

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s alive! In a technical sense, anyway. Images flicker on the screen. Dialogue and sound FX emanate in sync. Etc. But it is a soulless, unholy monstrosity. Behold: the movie without a protagonist!

You kinda don’t even notice at first, because this is one of those movies in which you can never figure out whom you’re supposed to be rooting for and none of the characters are likable or even mildly interesting. But in this case it’s because there actually is no character — not even a dull, unappealing one — around which what passes for a plot revolves. You might think it would be Frankenstein’s creation, dubbed Adam (Aaron Eckhart [Olympus Has Fallen], whom we should all feel terrible for), except he shows up pretty much only to take a look around and say to the other nonprotagonists. “Fuck this shit, I’m outta here.”

The shit is the war between demons, who are bad, and gargoyles who are good, which Adam stumbles into in the 1790s, soon after his creation. He wants nothing to do with it, or with humanity, so he disappears to do stuff and things all by himself for 200-plus years. Now it’s today, because Adam is apparently immortal, and he still wants nothing to do with gargoyles or demons or people, and he continues to do nothing of any significance. Then, about three-quarters of the way through this tedious exercise in horror-fantasy posturing, suddenly there crops up a reason for him to be present at all in the videogame scenario we’ve been endlessly enduring. If a story is one person’s journey, Adam spends most of this flick sitting on the side of the road, denying that he is even looking for a lift and adamantly refusing to stick his thumb out, because cars suck.

In the meantime, we are treated to a bland pastiche of Underworld — a universe that is itself already unacceptably banal — complete with the presence of Bill Nighy (About Time), who should know that there’s only so much leeway his awesomeness allows him. (Like Underworld, this is the creation of comic writer Kevin Grevioux, who is no mad scientist.) The 3D is crappy: it’s blurry and nauseating too often. The worldbuilding is crappy: humans can see the supernatural pyrotechnics of demon-vs-gargoyle battle, except when they can’t; the entirely absent God character everyone keeps talking about is maddeningly undefined. It’s almost quite literally a godawful mess.

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Matt Clayton
Matt Clayton
Mon, Feb 03, 2014 6:33pm

Yeah, this is easily one of the worse movies of the year, thus far. (But it should be one hell of a Rifftrax treatment later on… so maybe that version will be entertaining.)

I felt really bad for Eckhart and Otto. They’re cashing in, and Otto is the only one who escapes with her dignity intact.

But the ending… oh my God, it’s bad.

Mon, Feb 03, 2014 6:35pm

Stuff happens! (but what about the…?) STUFF HAPPENS! More stuff! Explodey stuff! Whaddaya want, subtlety? We’re too late for the Oscar noms…

Tonio Kruger
Mon, Feb 03, 2014 7:41pm

Well, in all fairness, bad Frankenstein movies aren’t exactly a novelty.