I, Frankenstein

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1795, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Aden Young) creates a monster (Aaron Eckhart), a soulless creature patched together from corpses, and then rejects it. In a fit of rage, the creature kills Victor’s wife Elizabeth (Virginie Le Brun) and Victor chases it to the Arctic to get revenge, but succumbs to the weather. The creature buries his creator and is then attacked by demons before being rescued by the gargoyles Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey), who bring it before the gargoyle queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) and their commander Gideon (Jai Courtney). Leonore explains that they were created by the Archangel Michael to battle demons on Earth and protect humanity. They name the creature “Adam” and invite him to join them, but he declines and departs after being given blade-like weapons that allow him to “descend” demons (destroying their bodies and trapping their souls in Hell) as they have the symbol of the Gargoyle Order carved on them.

Throughout the centuries, Adam fends off the demons that pursue him. During a modern-day confrontation at a nightclub, a human police officer is killed. While Adam is summoned by the gargoyles once more, the demon Helek (Steve Mouzakis) reports that Adam is alive to his leader, the demon-prince Naberius (Bill Nighy), who is disguised as billionaire businessman Charles Wessex, and his right-hand man, Dekar (Kevin Grevioux). Wessex has employed scientist Terra Wade (Yvonne Strahovski) to conduct experiments with reanimated corpses, and sends a group of demons led by his most formidable warrior, Zuriel (Socratis Otto), to attack the gargoyles’ cathedral and capture Adam so he can unlock the secret to giving life.

Before Leonore can punish Adam for the police officer’s death, the cathedral is attacked, and Adam convinces Ophir to release him. In the ensuing battle, a number of gargoyles, including Ophir and Keziah, are “ascended” (returned to and trapped in Heaven) while Leonore is captured and brought to an abandoned theater. Adam and Gideon head there where Gideon exchanges Leonore for Victor Frankenstein’s journal, containing the secrets of the experiment. Adam follows Zuriel to the Wessex Institute, where he learns that Naberius plans to recreate Frankenstein’s experiment and create thousands of reanimated corpses as the souls of the descended demons will be able to return from Hell if they have soulless bodies to possess. Adam retrieves the journal and escapes and later confronts Terra before they are attacked by Zuriel. Adam manages to “descend” Zuriel.

Adam warns the remaining gargoyles of Naberius’ plan and Lenore sends Gideon to kill him and retrieve the journal. After a violent fight, Adam is forced to “ascend” Gideon and then decides to burn Frankenstein’s journal and destroy its secrets before the gargoyles come after him. Adam evades them, leading them to the Wessex Institute where they join battle with Naberius’ demons, descending Dekar early in the fight. While the battle progresses, Adam ventures into the Institute to rescue Terra, who had been kidnapped by Naberius, who takes his true demonic form and activates the machine. Naberius overpowers Adam, and tries to have one of the demon spirits possess him, but Adam proves immune as he has grown his own soul. As the gargoyles attempt to stop the reanimated demons, Adam carves the symbol of the Gargoyle Order on Naberius, sanctifying his very body and utterly destroying it, descending Naberius alongside all the other demons in his army, and causing the entire building to collapse.

Recognizing Adam’s bravery, Leonore rescues him and Terra and forgives Adam for Gideon’s death. Adam retrieves his weapons. After bidding farewell to Terra, Adam departs to begin an immortal quest to protect the humans of the world and hunt demons for selfless reasons, the attitude that had earned him his soul in the first place. In so doing, he embraces his role and his true name of “Frankenstein”.

REVIEW:

In the 40s and 50s, monster movies were all the rage because people wanted to be scared and it didn’t take much. Today, for a monster movie to work it has to be deep, dark, complex, etc. As I said in my review of Dracula Untold, there is a rumor of a rebooted monster universe on the horizon. I’m not quite sure if I, Frankenstein will fit in there, but supposedly it has the ball rolling.

What is this about?

Adam Frankenstein is still hunted decades after his creation, although now his pursuers are opposing demons seeking the mystery of his longevity.

What did I like?

Bill Nighy, the evil guy. I was just thinking, lately Bill Nighy has been taking nice guy roles, which he has been doing fine in, but he does so much better as the villain. If I’m not mistaken, his last big screen villainous role was Davy Jones in the Pirates of Caribbean franchise. As evil as an undead pirate who trades shipwrecked sailors’ lives for time working on his ship, as well as his own control over the Kraken, I don’t think that compares to the evils of being a demon prince. Granted, we don’t really seem him do much more than be the head of a company for most of the film, but there is just something about the way he carries himself and commands your attention that lets the audience know at a moment’s notice, this guy could rain down hellfire.

Action. The selling point of this flick is the action. After the opening flashback and once the film gets going we are enthralled in a major action scene with angels(gargoyles) and demons fighting each other. Once the monster joins in, you know there will be death, blood, and destruction. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Nomenclature. A common mistake that is made is what to call the monster. He is not Frankenstein, that is the scientist’s name. The creature is simply known as Frankenstein’s monster. In this film, the Gargoyle queen gives him the name Adam, which seems to have stuck.

What didn’t I like?

Angels and Demons. Someone please tell me what Frankenstein has to do with gargoyles and demons, because I am still trying to figure it out. All of a sudden, after 200 years oh hiding, he becomes a demon hunter. Is there any reason behind this? No, not really. It isn’t like they know hot to make him forget the wrongs he’s done in the past, such as kill Frankenstein’s wife. I applaud them fir giving him a chance, but this was just an element that left me scratching my head.

Why the hate? As one can imagine, there is a bit of hate and vitriol towards Adam. Thing is, it isn’t coming from the demons. They seem to just be doing the their jobs. It is the head of the Gargoyle security, Gideon, that is a hater. Why is this? He says it is because Adam is an unnatural being that was not created by God, so he must be destroyed, but why? Aren’t all creatures to be loved? I guess I just felt his anger as a cheap plot point that allowed Jai Courtney to be the dick that this character asked for.

Pretty fly for a dead guy. I’m sorry, but when I think of Frankenstein’s monster, the first thing that pops in my head is a hideously deformed creature spliced and stitched together, as I’m sure most people do. So, who was it that thought having good looking guy like Aaron Eckhart, with some stitches and scars on is a “realistic” attempt to convince the audience that…oh, who am I kidding? The reason they did this was to have a marketable name on the marquis and bring in the ladies. I don’t believe it worked.

Final verdict on I, Frankenstein? Well, it tries, I’ll give it that. The problem is that it takes itself too seriously. By all accounts, this should be a fun action-horror flick with some comedic elements  thrown in, but instead they took this material and tried to make it dark and brooding at a time when audiences are getting past dark and brooding and want fun and action packed. This was a good afternoon flick to watch, but it is something I’ll have forgotten come this time tomorrow. My recommendation, give it a shot, if you must, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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