Repetitive CGI battles and lumpen, exposition-heavy dialogue result in a corpse that shouldn't have been reanimated
There are some stories that reverberate through the ages. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was first published in 1818 and has since been adapted multiple times in film (most notably with Boris Karloff in 1931) and theatre (including Danny Boyle’s recent adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller). The idea of man playing god and creating life still resonates in today’s society as the speed of scientific advancement sometimes appears to outpace our ideals and ethics.
However I, Frankenstein has virtually nothing to do with the classic horror tale. It does feature the patchwork creature created by the archetypal mad scientist, but now he's a buff superhero, and instead of drawing on Shelly’s mythology it creates a whole new world of gargoyles (essentially angels) and demons. Aaron Eckhart plays the monster, now named Adam by the High Queen of the Gargoyle Order (Miranda Otto), who has been wandering the wilderness for the last 200 years. After a slick haircut he's returned to society, only to be caught up in a battle between the forces of good and evil due to the fact the demonic forces want to harness the technology that created him so they can create vessels for their blackened souls from dead human corpses.
Eckhart can act – as he proved in Thank You For Smoking, The Dark Knight and The Rum Diary – but he has little to work with here. The script isn't filled with dialogue, just reams of lumpen exposition, trudging through the overly complicated lore linking one fight to another. Only Bill Nighy looks like he's having fun, chewing the scenery as Demon Prince Naberius. That the lead character is Frankenstein’s monster is almost irrelevant, a vague excuse for a succession of 'epic' CGI battles above a perpetually dark, dank city. Sadly these computer generated battles aren’t even exciting, just repetitive.
I, Frankenstein is very much of the Resident Evil/Underworld school of filmmaking, which assumes that if you throw enough action at the screen the audience will forget you didn't actually include a plot. It was a huge flop on release in the States and deserves to follow suit on our shores, as no amount of electricity can shock this lifeless corpse back to life.
General release from Fri 31 Jan.