‘From the producers of Underworld’ proclaims the poster proudly, and boy – they aren’t kidding. It should really read: ‘From the producers of Underworld who used Ctrl+H to replace Werewolves with Gargoyles and Vampires with Demons’. Of all the cruelties and indignity visited upon Victor Frankenstein’s creature in “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus”, surely none are as degrading as the treatment he has received at the hands of successive filmmakers through the years. But I sincerely doubt Mary Shelley ever anticipated this happening to her creation.
The story begins with Frankenstein pursuing his creature to the frozen arctic after it has murdered his wife. Unfortunately, Frankenstein succumbs to the cold and drops down dead so the creature returns with his body and buries him in the Frankenstein family graveyard. Here, he is attacked by four demons but manages to fight them off with the help of some gargoyles. It turns out there has been a secret war between gargoyles and demons being waged through the millennia and the demons want to capture the creature to discover the secret of reanimation as a part of a terrible plot to take over the world. Refusing to ally with the Gargoyles, the creature, named Adam by the Queen of the Gargoyles embarks on a solitary vendetta against the demons. Decades later, Adam finds himself at the epicentre of the final showdown between the demons and the gargoyles, with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance.
Forget Zack Snyder’s highly stylised “Watchmen”, or Ang Lee’s quirkily framed “Hulk”, “I, Frankenstein” may be the most comic book-esque comic book (ahem, sorry – graphic novel) movie I have ever seen. You often here the phrase ‘leaping from the page to the screen’ but this movie is the first one I’ve ever seen where the film is trying to leap back onto the page. Whether by accident or design, director Stuart Beattie films his shots in an incredibly static fashion so they come to resemble the frozen tableau panels of a comic and the use of narration and voiceover is so frequent, you can almost see the pale yellow caption boxes in the corners of the screen.
The lacklustre direction doesn’t prevent there from being plenty of moments to enjoy in this monumentally dumb movie, although thanks to the fact it takes itself way too seriously, you’ll have to laugh at the film rather than with it. Aaron Eckhart is at his most lantern-jawed earnest as the creature and he seems grimly determined to see the film through to the bitter end, no matter what nonsense is required. Yvonne Strahovski (of TV’s “Chuck”) has the good sense to seem faintly embarrassed to be in the film while Miranda Otto, Socratis Otto, Nicholas Bell, Kevin Grevioux and Jai Courtney seem content to just do enough to pick up their pay checks. Bill Nighy’s also on pay check duty but seems to hold the production is such low esteem that he’s unable to deliver any of his lines without a tone which is guaranteed to exceed your RDA for sarcasm.
Stupid, unoriginal but mercifully short, this film has little to do with the real Frankenstein and is simply trading on the name recognition to try and be more than it is. There are worse ways to pass an hour and a half, I suppose, but I wouldn’t be keen to try them out.