‘I, Frankenstein’ bad!
Ever since Boris Karloff donned that iconic makeup and costume in 1931, Frankenstein’s monster has been one of cinema’s go-to creatures.
There have been countless adaptations, retellings, follow-ups and spoofs of Mary Shelley’s timeless tale, and most of them, admittedly, aren’t worth bragging about (except for Mel Brooks’s “Young Frankenstein,” which is fantastic).
But none of those has dialogue, like, “We must get to the Leonore, the Gargoyle Queen. She’s the only one who can help us now.”
No, that honor is reserved for the latest B-movie to bear the “Frankenstein” moniker, “I, Frankenstein,” an uninspired, CGI-laden action flick that somehow has the gall to take itself seriously.
You’d think a movie that blends the “Frankenstein” mythology with some bizarre story of a benevolent order of gargoyles fighting demons that have established a bioresearch conglomerate would feature some semblance of humor or, at least, self-awareness. But despite all its talk about reanimation, “I, Frankenstein” is dead serious — and dead ridiculous.
Very, very loosely picking up where Shelley’s novel left off, “I, Frankenstein” finds the monster (Aaron Eckhart, “The Dark Knight”) recovering the body of his creator, Victor Frankenstein (Aden Young, “Killer Elite”), from the frozen north for burial at his family churchyard.
However, the cursory funeral is interrupted by a band of demons seeking to capture the monster and bring him before their evil prince, Naberius (Bill Nighy, “Shaun of the Dead”). The fight catches the attention of a couple of shape-shifting gargoyles, who join in the fray, rescue the creature and take him to their own leader, Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”), who, with the rest of her gargoyle kindred, reside in a gargantuan cathedral in the center of some never-named, nondescript city.
Leonore explains that gargoyles, who assume human form when talking shop, are appointed by God to fight demons on Earth. Being that the creature, who she names Adam, is unlike any human they’ve ever met, she invites him to join in the fight. Adam refuses and ventures off on his own, seeking answers to all of reanimated life’s questions.
Some 200 years later, Adam, who has since donned blue jeans and a hoodie, realizes that in order to overcome his own demons, he must fight real demons. He returns to the big city to do just that, once again catching the attention of the conspicuously named Gargoyle Order.
It would seem that Naberius has also been busy, having formed a multinational corporation that excels in bioresearch, but still seeks to capture Adam for his own nefarious reasons, which, needless to say, involve creating an unstoppable army of reanimated creatures to rule the world.
Adam also manages to enrage the astoundingly inept Gargoyle Order, meaning it’s up to only him and beleaguered scientist Terra (Yvonne Strahovski, Showtime’s “Dexter”), who’s been inadvertently helping Naberius in his research, to stop the madness.
Fortunately, the madness clocks in at a little more than 100 minutes, making “I, Frankenstein” a rather quick jaunt through Crappymovieville. Helping things along are some snappy action sequences, featuring a handful of well-choreographed fights scenes enhanced by a decent 3-D conversion.
But it’s hardly enough. The characters are scarcely developed, offering no chance of investment for their viewers. And despite the fact we’re watching computer-generated gargoyles fight demons that uncannily resemble the aliens from 1984’s “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086856/), their motivations and actions are anything but believable.
Directed by Stuart Beattie (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) and co-written by he and Kevin Grevioux (the “Underworld” series), “I, Frankenstein” is based on Grevioux’s graphic novel of the same name. Coincidentally, Grevioux also plays a demon that is killed by a CGI gargoyle, meaning that, in a sense, the creator is destroyed by his own creation.
Maybe there’s a little bit of “Frankenstein” in there after all.
“I, Frankenstein,” rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout, is playing at Regal Cinema 7. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.