‘I, Frankenstein’ Movie Review – Starting Off Bad
There’s a reason they call it a “hook.” Whether we’re talking about something as big as a blockbuster movie or something as small as this movie review, one of the most important parts is the introduction. In the case of movies, this introduction has a technical term (exposition), and it’s there to both introduce the audience to the piece of work and set up the conflict. In I, Frankenstein, it becomes obvious in the first three minutes that the film won’t overcome the January stereotype. By the end, it is the example that not only perpetuates the stereotype, but solidifies it. Good movies just don’t come out in January.
In this Frankenstein rendition, the title character (Aaron Eckhart) exists in modern-day…although modern-day looks like like today of course. It’s a grimy gothic setting that, I’m guessing, is in place to act as a distractor from what is really happening. This small detail serves as a microcosm for the film as a whole.
The movie is trying to distract the audience from what is really happening.
It all comes back to the writing, I think, because Stuart Beattie (G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra), who also serves as the screenwriter, simply doesn’t have a story. Or maybe better put: he simply doesn’t have a good story. While there is an obvious conflict, climax, and resolution, none of it seems to be very strong.
So Beattie is forced to distract us in hopes that we’ll somehow forget just how measly the premise is. He does this a few ways, including creating and filming fight scene after fight scene. His justification for the action sequences? He creates a mythical demon vs. gargoyle underground war – one that, of course, humans can’t see or detect. To add to the conflict, he throws in a beautiful scientist (Yvonne Strahovski), who at least isn’t a love interest, but instead is the link to mankind. I suppose she’s the reason we (as humans) are supposed to feel like there are “stakes” in the conflict.
But there aren’t stakes. How can there be stakes when it is so obvious what will happen? Even worse, it’s hard to even care how and why (or either really) anything happens.
Some of this could be partially forgiven if there wasn’t source material involved in the project. If this was your run-of-the-mill fantasy-action film, it’d actually be harder to rip on the movie. However, since it’s based (at least partially) on Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein,’ we all know there is substance to draw from. Therefore, in the past there has been at least a little bit of thematic backing. I, Frankenstein cheaply throws out words like “soul” and “monster” but doesn’t seem to try at all to actually explore those words.
To quickly touch on the aforementioned “January stereotype,” I like to go into movies with a clear mind…even if they are coming out in what is usually considered the dumping grounds for movies. It’s no secret that January is usually reserved for the movies that couldn’t make it the year before. I tried with last year’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and again in this year’s I, Frankenstein. Interestingly, they both released on the same weekends and share some common threads. Unfortunately, they both fail miserably because of the same line of thought.
I, Frankenstein isn’t just a bad movie, it’s an awful one. While it seems obvious that a good story should be the first step to creating a good movie, studios continue to greenlight movies that don’t have a story. It appears the “Frankenstein” part of the title mixed with a recognizable name (Eckhart) and a beautiful blonde (Strahovski) was all people would need to see. Upon actually seeing the movie, it’s still all there is to see.