Director: Stuart Beattie
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Mirando Otto, Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux
Plot: After burying his creator, Frankenstein’s Monster (Eckhart) gets caught up in a war between demons and gargoyles, both who think he might be the deciding factor in their battle.
His name is Frankenstein’s Monster; not f*****g Frankenstein!
Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ is a literary classic. In many ways, her book, along with other Gothic classics like ‘Dracula’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ were the inspirations for my writing and what led me to an English Literature course at University. Shelley’s novel portrays identity and the idea of playing with God. While it might seem a little heavy for modern readers, I believe it holds its own in the 21st century. This makes it all the more embarrassing that such a great work of fiction is swooped upon and torn to pieces by the producers of ‘Underworld’, who were looking for another Gothic action flick to make them some money. I was hoping for a powerful story of redemption and a search for identity, but all I got was a forgettable excuse for some CGI fighting.
Every character here is completely one-dimensional. Let’s take Frankenstein’s Monster, or Adam, as he is dubbed here. I understand that he is meant to be an empty soul, almost a glorified zombie. He is a reanimated corpse, strung together by spare parts and brought to life without a purpose. Yes, it is possible to read into that and come up with a drifter character, without logic or a soul. At the same time, Shelley crafted a character that was an empty body, yet it desired purpose. In the book, it seeks revenge on its maker, because it is all it had left to go on. In a rare moment of insight from the film, Miranda Otto’s gargoyle queen, explains that Frankenstein’s Monster was fuelled by emotions, he was never taught to control. My point is that there are several directions to take Frankenstein’s Monster and whatever road you decided for the character should have been the driving point of the movie. However, the writers put no thought into that concept and decided to remake Aaron Eckhart into your stereotypical action hero. Therefore, we get several shots of Aaron Eckhart strutting around, as if he is a heavy metal music video, while his throaty narration explains how conflicted he is. Oh yes, everyone tells the audience how difficult Frankenstein’s Monster’s quest for redemption is, but we never see nor feel that. All we get is a one-note performance from Eckhart (who seems to be doing his best Batman impression for the role), who drains all personality from the performance, making it all the more bizarre that he suddenly gets attached to certain characters. A lot of the movie’s problems could have been solved if we could relate to Frankenstein’s Monster in the slightest.
Every other character is just as bad. I would hardly call Miranda Otto’s or Bill Nighy’s performances bad, but the director gives them no direction to take their characters. Otto simply looks cool (and she does look quite awesome with a billowing cape and icy stare), and Bill Nighy copies and pastes his performance from Underworld. Yvonne Strahovski plays the one interesting mortal figure, which should have been another character that breathed life into the movie. She starts the film as a human scientist helping the film’s bad guys (admittedly, she doesn’t realise that they are demons at the time), try and replicate Victor Frankenstein’s experiments. The film goes with the motivation that it is a great scientific leap and, of course, a budding scientist would want to be a part of that. But I wanted more from her. I wanted to know why she had come to this shady organisation, playing God (again, a key theme of the original text that was wasted here). I kept expecting her motives to be laid out on the table and totally make this movie worth something. However, when the movie gets underway, she becomes nothing more than a reason for Frankenstein’s Monster to redeem his soul and then evolves into your typical damsel in distress figure.
To be honest, I, Frankenstein was simply lazy. The producers wanted to have some supernatural, Gothic fighting, where they could have CGI gargoyles tearing into hordes of demons. It is essentially Underworld without the thoughtfully plot and less impressive monsters. Demons are the world’s laziest villains, because they are evil, just because they are evil. No other background is needed. The look of the demons weren’t even memorable; they were simply scaly and ugly, which made every reveal in the film boring. The gargoyles at least looked cool (not the Queen; that CGI was awful), but that could be because we haven’t seen gargoyles in cinema for a while. The film’s one strength is some fairly impressive fighting scenes, but even then they were very hollow. The film’s true villains, the Demons, are depicted as fairly killable (they have numbers, over strength), and Frankenstein’s Monster has no apparent weakness. Fights look cool, but mean nothing. By the end of the film, it turns into a more CGI-leading thing, until it becomes a bloated mess of over-the-top visual effects and no character development.
Final Verdict: The source material is stripped to its bare roots and the film hopes that fight scenes and average CGI is enough to keep you entertained. It’s not.