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I, Frankenstein
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by Peter Sobczynski

"And You Thought Fire Bad"
1 stars

The misadventures of Frankenstein's monster--a creature infamously comprised of bits and pieces from corpses and brought to life via the unholy mystery of electricity--have provided fodder for an enormous number of films (just exactly how many is best left to someone with more spare time than I to discover). Although I cannot claim to have watched every single one of them, I have seen more than my fair share of them over the years and if "I, Frankenstein" is not the single most ridiculous variation of Mary Shelley's once-shocking premise to hit the big screen, it certainly belongs in the running. Even deliberate spoofs like the Mel Brooks classic "Young Frankenstein" and Paul Morrissey's "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein 3-D" seem relatively staid and straightforward in comparison to the lunacies on display here and this one isn't even trying to be funny.

Oddly enough, the first two minutes of the film offer up a fairly accurate recap of Shelley's original novel--more accurate than most of the other adaptations--but once the monster (Aaron Eckhart) has finished burying the body of his deceased creator, things quickly screwball. It turns out that there has been a long-running secret battle for the fate of mankind between gargoyles under the control of the benevolent Queen Leonine (Miranda Otto) and demons controlled by the vile Naberius (Bill Nighy) and the monster, who is rescued by the gargoyles and redubbed Adam by Leonine, is the unexpected key to everything. Needless to say, Adam is uninterested in the whole thing and prefers to wander off alone to the ends of the earth.

After 200 years, however, Adam grows a little bored with this and makes his way back home to take up destroying demons, although his noisy and destructive approach tends to fly in the face of the whole "secret battle" aspect of the gargoyle-demon scrum--luckily for him, actual humans are in such short supply in this story that Jerry Garcia could have counted all of them on his hand and still had fingers left over. Eventually, it transpires that Naberius, who has reinvented himself as the head of a slick corporate empire, is working on a plan to destroy both the gargoyles and humanity with armies of reanimated corpses possessed with the souls of slain demons and he needs Adam, or at least Dr. Frankenstein's journal, to complete his plans. Also figuring into the proceedings is the comely Dr. Terra (Yvonne Strahovski), who comes billed as one of the world's most brilliant electrophysiologists, a claim that some objective observers may question on the basis that she cannot even say "Hello" in a convincing manner, let alone any of the technobabble she is required to rattle off every once in a while.

"I, Frankenstein" comes from some of the same people responsible for the "Underworld" franchise and if that isn't enough of a warning in and of itself, nothing is. That was, you will recall, a saga that threw together a centuries-long battle between werewolves and vampires and the sight of Kate Beckinsale in a black leather jumpsuit and somehow managed to make both of them profoundly boring. As bad as those movies were, "I, Frankenstein" is arguably even stupider because it fails both as a CGI-heavy action extravaganza--the kind where all the battles are staged at night so as to better disguise the fact they look like screensavers run amok--and as a Frankenstein film. Instead of the tragic and monstrous creature we have come to know over the years, the version see here displays a buff bod that suggests that Nautilus was more prevalent two centuries ago than previously assumed, shows such resilience during his fight scenes that one must assume that Dr. Frankenstein used heavy-duty stitching to keep his limbs from flying akimbo and never flinches once when the demons he slays burst into flame before him, even though fire has always traditionally been at the top of his "BAD!" list.

Then again, I suppose it is unfair to compare this to other "Frankenstein" films because those, for the most part, at least put Dr. Frankenstein (or his descendants) and his creation at the center of the proceedings while "I, Frankenstein" is so profoundly uninterested in them that the monster (I am sorry but I just cannot refer to him as "Adam" anymore) is off the screen for long periods of time, no doubt to the relief of Aaron Eckhart. When he cannot escape the proceedings, Eckhart looks absolutely embarrassed throughout--even getting scalped in "Nurse Betty" afforded him slightly more dignity than he displays here. As someone who already looks like death warmed over, and not too successfully at that, Bill Nighy would seem to be ideal casting but not even his deliberately campy line readings help to enliven things. As humanity's key representative, Yvonne Strahoviski contributes little more than a nice pair of legs, though she gets one promising scene in which she gets a load of the now-shirtless monster and you can practically hear "O, Sweet Mystery of Life" swell up on the soundtrack. Alas, the monster falls asleep before anything can happen, a rare instance of a movie imitating what is going on in the audience.

Like an Uwe Boll joint without the stylistic flair or quiet dignity, "I, Frankenstein" is so flamboyantly ridiculous that there is a small part of me that almost wants to recommend that fans of unintentionally funny cinematic disasters rush out and see it as there hasn't been anything this convulsively goofy in the multiplexes in a while. I don't quite have the nerve to do that but as a consolation prize, I would like to offer you a couple of the silliest quotes and if these strike your funny bone, you might want to consider giving it a look, preferably at a theater with a bar on or near the premises.

"Now--Bring Me Frankenstein's Monster!"
"Call every gargoyle you can spare!"
"Dr. Frankenstein's thinking was wildly out of the box!"
"You talk to the gargoyle queen and we'll meet back here in an hour"

The funniest of the bunch comes at the very end and is, in fact, found buried amidst the end credits. "Special thanks to Mary Shelley"

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23954&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/24/14 10:58:53
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User Comments

1/07/16 David Hollingsworth Ugh. 1 stars
11/06/15 Dr.Lao Tried watching it twice, turned it off both times 1 stars
1/29/14 Deez Nutz Abdolutely f'ing amazing cinema 5 stars
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  24-Jan-2014 (PG-13)
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