By Glenn Dunks
March 20, 2014
In what can only be described as a mess from start to finish, Stuart Beattie‘s I, Frankenstein takes the famed Mary Shelley story and adapts it into an ugly catastrophe. Devoid of any appeal that isn’t concentrated around star Aaron Eckhart’s impeccably-sculpted muscles, this effects-laden lump of cinematic coal is as nonsensical and ill-conceived as it is boring. It’s little surprise this third-rate Underworld knockoff elicits more snores than applause.
Opening in 1795, Frankenstein’s Monster is forged out of corpses into the surprisingly hunky form of Eckhart. After killing the doctor’s wife, the monster escapes, only to be attacked by demons and then rescued by gargoyles. The Gargoyle Queen (Miranda Otto) and her henchman (Jai Courtney) proceed to explain the centuries-old war between the species, but audiences will likely still be baffled. The monster – renamed Adam for dumbed-down convenience – leaves and wages a personal battle across the years until the modern day when demon prince Naberius (Bill Nighy) threatens the world’s existence.
It’s all entirely preposterous, however, Beattie’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t do anything to enliven the material. His screenplay is cluttered with clunky ideas and convoluted exposition, as if he didn’t trust audiences to understand the basic themes that have made Frankenstein legendary for nearly 200 years. The sympathy audiences may have had for Boris Karloff’s take on the monster in James Whale’s 1931 classic is nonexistent here.
Beattie’s film appears more interested in having us ogle the chaotic visual assault rather than anything rooted in emotions. Shot in ghastly blues and greys, and with action sequences populated by murky 3D CGI, I’d be tempted to call it cheap if I wasn’t aware it cost $65 million to make. While it’s nice to see a plethora of Australian actors amongst the ensemble, the likes of Otto and Courtney, as well as Yvonne Strahovski and Caitlin Stasey deserve better than this. Without an ounce of fun to be had, I, Frankenstein is a miserable, generically gothic effort. Melburnians may get a kick out of seeing transformed landmarks. There’s little else in this locally-made effort to intrigue or excite.
I, Frankenstein arrives in Australian cinemas March 20, 2014.