I, Frankenstein (2014)

*. Frankenstein’s monster re-imagined as a Marvel superhero, or as another part of the Underworld universe, with the vampire and lycans replaced by the gargoyle order and the 666 (or so we’re told) legions of demons. That it was produced by Lakeshore Entertainment, the same company that did (or does) the Underworld movies, should come as no surprise. Nor that a crossover was originally planned. Hell, Bill Nighy even reprises the same role he played in Underworld, except instead of Viktor he’s called Neberius.
*. Another link to Underworld has to do with the weirdly depopulated nature of the city we’re in. Where are all the people? Well, as explained on the commentary track the production couldn’t actually afford them because they would make the effects too difficult. So again we have hordes of monsters running through empty evening streets, while the gargoyles inhabit a ginormous cathedral in the centre of town that appears to be totally abandoned.
*. The point of all this being that any movie can now be turned into the same movie, which is to say a CGI, comic-book inspired action film.
*. Mary Shelley’s novel is quickly recapped at the beginning and then we’re off to the races, being introduced to characters with names like Gideon, Zuriel, Keziah, and Ophir. The monster himself is re-christened Adam. It’s all very faux-biblical, and the cast deliver their portentous lines in suitably British accents (despite most of them being Australian). Aaron Eckhart is the exceptional American, who just sounds like a bear trying to talk.
*. Director (and co-writer) Stuart Beattie: “It’s really kind of funny dialogue if you look at it on a page, and it takes an actor of Miranda [Otto]’s calibre to actually sell it as real. . . . That’s one of the great things about actors, that the right ones will sell anything you want them to.” Well, all I can say is that the right ones try. Perhaps they shouldn’t have tried so hard. As critics agreed there isn’t so much as a hint of wit or humour in any of the proceedings. The actors might have had some fun and helped out in this regard.
*. Not-so-great moments of DVD commentary. Beattie again: “That line ‘It’s alive, it’s alive!’ you have to have in any Frankenstein movie, in reference to the classic Hammer films.” I hope that was a slip of the tongue.
*. The commentary is actually worth a listen, as Beattie gives a lot of good insight into the making of the film and what his thought processes were. But you have to shake your head at times. What he was most proud of about I, Frankenstein is that it was a “character-driven” action film. What he means by this, he explains, is that things happen because of the needs of the characters and not the plot.
*. This amazed me. Everything that happens here happens because it’s a requirement of the (ridiculous) plot. The demons have to either get Adam or get Frankenstein’s How-To manual on bringing the dead back to life. The gargoyles have to stop them. Character seems to have nothing to do with it. Even at the end I wasn’t sure what Adam’s hang-up was about the book. And his much-adverted to loneliness is just thrown out there without ever being represented in any way.
*. Indeed, one of the notable things I found about the movie was just how disposable the characters were. They seem to keep dying ahead of time, and we barely notice when they’re gone. At least Keziah and Ophir are going to a better place.
*. It’s an effects movie but the effects are nothing special. The demons dissolve into fireballs as they are “descended.” They also seem to come apart pretty easily. And as for their appearance, they really just look like guys wearing rubber Hallowe’en masks. I was not impressed.
*. Yes, once again the fate of the entire world hangs in the balance. And once again our hero has to adopt the mantle of Christ in some oversized sacrificial gesture. Superhero movies really need a reboot. Or at least a little bit of fresh thinking.
*. There’s no point trying to figure it out. It doesn’t make a lick of sense. Why has Neberius been collecting dead bodies for hundreds of years and going through all the trouble of storing them in that fantastic facility? Why? Why not just revive dead bodies as he needs them? Why do it all at once? There’s no point asking.
*. The one point that did bother me was the blending of magic and science. I kept wondering why in such a demon-haunted world ruled by supernatural forces the demons needed “one of the world’s most respected electrophysiologists” to figure out how to raise the dead. Especially when the big secret seems only to be to increase the power flow.
*. Meanwhile, why is this turf war being fought by such low-level flunkies? Where are the archangels we hear about? Are Michael and Gabriel too busy to lend a hand? Beattie says that they apparently “sent” Adam to help, but that seems a leap of faith to me. And where are Beelzebub and Lucifer? Couldn’t they even be bothered to make a cameo? Or were they being saved for a sequel? If so . . . ha!

15 thoughts on “I, Frankenstein (2014)

    1. Alex Good Post author

      It’s actually a remake of Je suis Pierre Rivière. Not many people know that.

      I hope you saw this in a mall multiplex that seated a dozen people. That’s the sort of venue it belongs in.

  1. Bookstooge

    I watched this on prime and man, did it stink. I think I watched it because the same year Larry Corriea had written one of his Monster Hunters International books about Agent Franks (Frankenstein works for the government) and this very plot of demons inhabiting revived/cloned bodies played a big part. All very mormon theology though, so I didn’t give that aspect much thought.

    Thank goodness there were no sequels. As it was, Underworld went on far too long imo…

    1. Alex Good Post author

      Yep, this Frankenstein just wasn’t franchise material. Too much like any other monster-hunting superhero. Can’t think of why I watched it in the first place now.

    1. Alex Good Post author

      I can’t remember much about it. This is an old review I found lying around that I never got to posting. What mainly sticks in my mind is that it was an Underworld clone, if that’s your thing.


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