Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: January 24, 2014 Released by: Lions Gate Films
Generic, shallow horror flick has buff, stoic Aaron Eckhart Battle: Los Angeles, The Dark Knight) taking on the Mary Shelley monstrous creation with cinematic incarnations from Boris Karloff to a memorable Peter Boyle. Even Robert De Niro in Kenneth Branagh's more artistic, philosophical take. I, Frankenstein as directed by co-scribe Stuart Beattie from a graphic novel by writing partner Kevin Grevioux (who appears as a rugged security figure), Eckhart's distraught 'Adam' is a soulless, invincible being thrust into an unspecified modern European setting after some early late 18th century exposition and frenetic action.
Grevioux's closeness to the "Underworld" franchise is evident in this uninspired conventional genre hybrid which sets up an outsider against pugilistic entities, not the vampires and lycans, but demons and gargoyles. One who is pressed into standing up against both when plans of reanimation (from a prized journal by the titular scientist) and galvanism come to the forefront.
Having Bill Nighy (About Time) in the roles of the nefarious Naberius and updated (200 years hence) Charles Wessex may be one of the best decisions of the filmmakers as the character actor knows his way (with gleeful aplomb) around a silly plot similar to his time with Kate Beckinsale or even delineated in Guillermo del Toro's more fully realized handling of the Hellboy pictures. Even if his vicious look isn't as formidable as his underlings.
A spiritual presence is felt through the queenly, seraphic Leonore (Miranda Otto) protected by Gideon (Jai Courtney) and his humanoid gargoyle contingent. The tension here expressed through CGI has Leonore and her army out to foil an attempt (with Adam the key to its success) to exterminate the human race by protecting the one she 'baptized.' The gargoyles aren't that appealing when in their agitated state, better rendered in their static form.
For fanboys a svelte blonde in Dr. Terra Ward (Yvonne Strahovski) is on board for Wessex to exact his sinister scheme as renowned human electrophysiologist. A dark, feverish flight of fantasy and world domination plays out without any feeling of the higher purpose it presumably purports with goads of explanation.
There's a stodgy, stone-faced enterprise here which teems at times like hellfire in coalescing the sacred and mythology with a sort of grand, malfeasant flair reminiscent of portions of other movies with sequels like Highlander and Blade. Bogging down in apocalyptic solemnity, I, Frankenstein has little heft for the physically stalwart Eckhart to harness apart from angst-ridden rage when the big set-pieces pervade with fiery battles and raids shaded in gloom and grey doom.