July 24, 2014
By far the scariest thing about director Stuart Beattie’s “I, Frankenstein,” a terrible would-be horror story that somehow roped in a couple of really good actors, is that the ending seems to suggest the possibility of a sequel.
Now that’s horror.
You probably know the basics of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. Mad scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a living creature from spare parts of corpses. In the novel the monster isn’t the unthinking horror he became in movies; he reads and contemplates his sorry state. This is all dispensed with in about the first two minutes of the movie. The creature (Aaron Eckhart, who must owe somebody big) buries his creator and is set upon by demons. Then the demons are attacked by gargoyles.
So, as you can see, we’re pretty far afield from the source material.
Long story short: Gargoyles are the good guys, demons are the bad guys. They are fighting one of those epic unending wars that, if the good guys lose, could mean the end of the human race. The gargoyles want to keep Frankenstein’s scientific diary out of the hands of the demons, specifically those of the demon prince Naberius, who is played by the great Bill Nighy. (Maybe he lost the same bet as Eckhart, so here he is.)
Adam, the name the gargoyle leader Leonore (Miranda Otto) has given Frankenstein’s creature, wants no part in the fight, so he roams the Earth for a while. Like, 200 years,
Cut to the present, when Adam returns to hunt the demons that have never stopped hunting him.
Brilliant scientist Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) is, alas, not quite smart enough to realize Naberius wants to harness this knowledge for evil purposes.
Adam and the diary fall in and out of the hands of the gargoyles and the demons, there are lots of epic, nonsensical battles and, once Terra sees Adam without his shirt on, she ignores the scars and sees the man. They team up to save mankind.
Don’t worry if it sounds hard to follow. Every character explains, at great length, every action and motivation in the movie. Maybe Beattie, who also wrote the screenplay, got paid by the word. Good for him. But it doesn’t mean we have to listen, or watch.
Rated PG-13 for intense fantasy action and violence throughout. Rating: ★