Quite an odd film I, Frankenstein, with its selling of the monster as a patchwork super hero, via this 2014 offering from Australia and the USA that feels like an amalgamation of the 2003 film Underworld. The presence of Bill Nighy along with Kevin Grevioux helps to reinforce this feeling. The fact that the theme is about a centuries long war between two powerful factions also makes the movie feel very similar to the Kate Beckinsale vehicle.
Starring Aaron Eckhart (Battle Los Angeles, The Dark Knight), Nighy, Miranda Ott (War of the Worlds, What Lies Beneath), Jai Courtney (Divergent, A Good Day to Die Hard), Grevioux, and a brilliant cameo by Mad Max alumni Bruce Spence, I, Frankenstein is directed and co-written by Stuart Beattie (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) and begins with Frankenstein’s monster recounting his beginnings via voice-over by Eckhart.
As he relates the tale and brings the audience up to date, as it were, the presence of angels, sort of, and demons, are brought to light. The demons, headed up by Bill Nighy’s big bad, Naberius want to capture “Adam” as he is dubbed by the “gargoyle” clan of angels, and make more just like him.
The plan is to make these soul-less creatures vessels for a multitude of demons to occupy and then take over the earth. Miranda Ott’s gargoyle goodies, with bad-boy Gideon (Courtney) try to help Adam but he is having none of it and strikes out on his own.
Quite a long time passes before Adam comes back to civilization and when he does return life has moved on and gotten very sophisticated. Naberius aka Wessex has hired a couple of scientists to reanimate the dead, just like Victor Frankenstein, and he wants either Adam or the journal of his maker to help Terra Wade to be completely successful in her experiment.
Adam takes quite a fancy to Terra and fights not just the demons but the gargoyles as well. In the process he gains a soul, a little like a patchwork monstrous version of Pinocchio, and becomes a real big boy.
The film, with its Underworld feel, is entertaining and one of those popcorn munching treats that do not require much in the way of interpretation or message. Nighy’s demon is a variation of his Marcus the vampire leader just more villainous and without the massive wings. Grevioux still has the deepest voice of any actor in existence and sadly, he does not get to “Hulk out” till the end.
Eckhart is the draw here. He of the ruggedly macho, yet intelligent, voice kills the voice over and the actor manages to make his Frankenstein monster a perfect blend of abandoned rage and vulnerability. Jai Courtney does what he does best; which is act pretty snotty and pick on the hero, think Divergent here, and unlike his Jack McClane, son of John, has no chance for redemption.
It was nice to see Kiwi actor Bruce Spence, although one did expect him to break out his flying machine somewhere along the way.
This CG heavy film entertains despite the idea that by the end of I, Frankenstein that Adam is some sort of superhero watching out for all the mortals and fighting evil. There are enough action sequences and epic battles between demons, Adam and the gargoyles to keep things moving along and overall this is a fun film that takes an old classic tale and puts a spin on it.
Streaming on Netflix at the moment, I, Frankenstein is a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars and would have gotten 4 if there had been more Nighy.