‘I, Frankenstein’ Review

Published 8 months ago by , Updated October 17th, 2014 at 9:14 pm,

I Frankenstein Movie Aaron Eckhart I, Frankenstein Review

It doesn’t break new ground but I, Frankenstein is not the ridiculous train wreck that some hardcore movie buffs were expecting.

In I, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s monster, Adam (Aaron Eckhart), is still “alive” and roaming the world – nearly two centuries after his creation (at the titular hands of Dr. Frankenstein). Gifted (or cursed) with immortality, Adam lives his life on the run, in a perpetual state of self-preservation, dispatching malevolent demons that have chased him since they first learned of his “rebirth.”

However, when Adam’s hunt results in the death of an innocent human, he’s pulled back into the ancient battle between his demonic pursuers, led by Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy), and an army of gargoyles commissioned by the archangels to protect innocent souls. As the demons and gargoyles race to find the secret behind Frankenstein’s creation, Adam meets electro-physiologist, Terra (Yvonne Strahovski), who helps him uncover new revelations about his own history – revelations that could threaten the future of humankind.

I Frankenstein Adam Aaron Eckhart I, Frankenstein Review

Aaron Eckhart as Adam in ‘I, Frankenstein’

Kevin Grevioux, known best for creating Len Wiseman’s Underworld franchise, penned both the I, Frankenstein graphic novel source material as well as a first draft of the screenplay adaptation (he also plays one of the main demon henchmen, Dekar). Grevioux’s success with the Underworld series was clearly a starting point for Lakeshore Entertainment and sophomore director Stuart Beattie (whose story credits include G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) in bringing Grevioux’s Frankenstein story to the big screen. While there are some interesting elements to this particular take on the Adam/Monster character, along with very intriguing mythology behind the demon/gargoyle war, I, Frankenstein is (mostly) style over substance at nearly every turn.

Fortunately, that style delivers – meaning that anyone who has been entertained by similar offerings (especially the Underworld series) will find reason to enjoy in Beattie’s film. Visual effects look budgeted, especially the demonic makeup and CGI gargoyle close-ups, but the filmmakers manage to provide some genuinely cool sequences of Adam battling demons – especially those centered on the character’s unique choice of Kali stick fighting.

I Frankenstein Yvonne Strahovski Terra I, Frankenstein Review

Yvonne Strahovski as Terra in ‘I, Frankenstein’

Still, the story is a mixed bag full of compelling world-building (the descending of demons and ascending of gargoyles, for example) and downright glaring plot holes. For every smart idea, there’s a mind-numbing moment of disbelief to follow – not to mention several frustrating choices by Adam, Terra, and other primary players, that clearly prioritize advancing the plot instead of serving character arcs. In spite of the campy central premise, a martial arts wielding modern Frankenstein creature, Adam’s core narrative journey is stronger than some viewers might have assumed. It’s still a very formulaic story about searching for the “humanity” within but there are also some worthwhile thematic elements at play – the most obvious being: what does it mean to be a “monster”?

To that end, Eckhart attempts a careful balance between injecting a “soul” into Adam while also maintaining a confused rage within the horror icon. The performance is pretty on-the-nose, jumping between looks of bewilderment to exciting action fight choreography – with the actor clearly stretching to make his take on the monster more nuanced and introspective than prior iterations. At times, Eckhart succeeds at elevating the character, and establishes a serviceable foundation to explore Adam in future installments, but hammy dialogue and overall thin characterization limit how far the talented actor can push the material.

I Frankenstein Kevin Grevioux Demons Dekar I, Frankenstein Review

‘I, Frankenstein’ writer Kevin Grevioux as Dekar

Supporting roles are all serviceable but not particularly memorable. Nighy is par for the course as Prince Naberius, cobbling the villain together from prior parts in his filmography – in order to deliver any necessary exposition from the demonic side of I, Frankenstein‘s plot. Fulfilling a similar function on the gargoyle side is Miranda Otto as Lenore – the gargoyles’ direct link to the archangels. Otto is given slightly more to do than Nighy; though, the more engrossing aspects of her character (including insight into the larger mythology: life, God, and divinity) are underserved in favor of how she can help or hinder Adam as the story progresses.

Jai Courtney’s Gideon is saddled with similar baggage. He gets plenty of epic action beats but I, Frankenstein ignores several opportunities to define how the hot-tempered Gargoyle reconciles his rebellious nature, and disgust of Adam, with a dedication to the order’s primary charge – protecting life at all costs. Equally flat is Yvonne Strahovski’s Terra – who audiences learn next-to-nothing about and is only included to redefine Adam, explain scientific jargon, and force drama into the final act. Sadly, Terra is little more than a prop – not developed enough to earn, or give credibility for, a key choice she makes (let alone ensure her romance/infatuation with Adam is convincing).

I Frankenstein Jai Courtney Angels Gargoyles Gideon I, Frankenstein Review

Jai Courtney as Gideon in ‘I, Frankenstein’

I, Frankenstein is also playing as both a 3D and IMAX 3D presentation. Given the film’s reliance on visual flare, either upgraded ticket could be worth the added cost. The 3D approach relies on depth, not pop-out moments, and many of the effects (especially fiery slow-mo demonic descendings) look great in 3D as well as on the large IMAX screen format. The decision is entirely dependent on preference this time: viewers who regularly enjoy premium theater experiences will likely get their money’s worth but those who typically prefer to stick with the basics, except for cases where 3D or IMAX dramatically improve the experience, won’t be missing much with a regular 2D screening.

It doesn’t break new ground but I, Frankenstein is not the ridiculous train wreck that some hardcore movie buffs were expecting. The film is unlikely to win-over potential viewers that were never onboard with the (arguably) campy premise, but for fantasy action fans that have been entertained by similar updates to movie monsters in the past, I, Frankenstein successfully delivers enough slick action choreography and interesting mythology to provide fun (though admittedly dopey) escapism. If nothing else, Grevioux and Beattie have established an interesting sandbox – one that, given a stronger story and more developed characters, might even be worth revisiting.

If you’re still on the fence about I, Frankenstein, check out the trailer below:

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I, Frankenstein runs 93 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout. Now playing in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check back soon for our I, Frankenstein episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

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43 Comments

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  1. I’ll… watch it on home video instead :)
    That is, of course, if I don’t forget about it when it’s out…

  2. You’re really suggesting that people may a 3D premium to see a 2 star movie because … world building?

    Neither the trailer nor the review makes the movie seem anything more than a crude attempt to wring some mileage out of the “brand” of Frankenstein while tacking it on to some by-the-numbers monster-fight flick. I get the feeling that this movie will meet a similar fate as the recent, and equally forgettable, Hercules movie.

    • I’m not suggesting that everyone go see it – or because of the world building. I made it pretty clear in the review that there’s a certain demographic of moviegoers that enjoy this kind of movie and that, for them, it might be worth a 3D ticket – since the film focuses heavily on stylized action.

      Given your comments about the trailer, it’s clear you fall into the group of “viewers that were never onboard with the (arguably) campy premise.” So, you’re definitely not likely to be won-over by the actual movie.

      It’s totally understandable that you’re not interested but that doesn’t mean some people won’t enjoy the movie (or be glad they saw it in 3D).

      • Ben,
        I have to admit I don’t care about this laughable attempt at a film. But I do want to know. Where did the “More News” from the bottom of the main group of mixed stories go? I don’t want to have to hunt down stories in every group just because I was away for a couple of days. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to get rid of it, but they were wrong…

        • It’s a glitch on the site – it should be over on the right side below the ads right now (next to the last story in the article list). We’re currently working on a fix.

    • can you please tell me what happened in the first 10 minutes of the movie…. I walked in late. thanks

      • Just Frankenstein narrating the contents of the original book…. Adam is made, he kills Dr. F’s wife, then Dr. F follows him to the edgesofmthe earth and freezes to death because Adam is immune to the cold… dr. F is not. All this narration while Adam carries dr f body to bury it in the family grave site.

        This is when he gets attacked by demons and some gargoyles save him.

  3. By the review I thought SR was going to give it 3 stars. I got to admit this looks awful to me. It makes me think it’ll be like “Van Helsing”. I was really looking forward to that movie when it came out and was soooo dissappointed when I saw it.

    • Van Helsing wasn’t that bad. Having Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in a movie automatically makes it watchable.

      • Yeah, me and a buddy went to see Van Helsing on a free afternoon in college and loved it.

    • I have to disagree with you on Van Helsing. It was the best movie that concerned The Monster, Dracula and werewolves; all while including minor characters such as Hyde. Van Helsing also had the most literary accuracy of any movie for years up to then and after to the present.

      • That’s great that you enjoyed it. I felt foolish for being so excited about it. I took my niece who was about 5 or 6 at the time, and even she thought it was rubbish. A wasted oppurtunity in my eyes.

    • Enjoyed van helsing a lot as well !
      Sadly the sequel never made it :( I Frankenstein just looks awesome so far !

  4. Man, I was off by .5 stars, LOL. Yeah, I kind of thought this would be the 2nd of the big budget movies to not do soo good. The trailer didn’t do anything for me

  5. I just saw it. It wasn’t terrible. It definitely had that Underworld feel to it with a little Blade thrown in as well. I went with low expectations but I’m not sure based on the trailer that someone could have high expectations. There’s some decent action scenes and I would agree about the campiness of it.
    The SR rating is on point IMO. I went in thinking “Priest” (Paul Bettany) but its definitely not as bad as that.

  6. I thought it was good. Not great, but good. But then again, I watch movies to escape, not capitulate the meaning of life. I’m a huge fan of the Underworld movies also, so this was right up my alley. Not every movie HAS to be an extensive character piece. Epic-in-scope fantasy style stories tend to work better driven by the plot instead of heavy character exposition. In any case, it was entertaining IMO. Definitely better than 2 stars, but it’s all subjective, so what do I know?

  7. I saw it yesterday and it was fun. Good enough for me. I agree with this revierw in almost everything but I give it 3 stars not 2. At the end the problem is not the movie the problem is you and your expectations. My expectations weren’t that high and the movie surprised me in a good way. Give it a chance.

    • You say that but the thing about people is the differences.

      You went in with low expectations and enjoyed it. I could go in with low expectations and walk out after thinking “I should’ve listened to my gut, that was a waste of money”.

      Honestly, most trailers that come out don’t really excite me regarding the movie the trailer is hyping up so I wait for them to air on TV (won’t waste cash that way) and 98% of the time, my initial feeling when watching a trailer on Youtube or Screen Rant holds up when I see the finished movie.

      For example, I saw the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer, didn’t think it looked that good, avoided it until it aired on TV a few weeks ago and found it to be completely lacking in anything to hold my interest and Khan was a wasted opportunity (instead of being a threat, he was just….there).

      That’s why I avoid using the whole “try it, you might like it” statement because what I find good, others might find horrendous and vice versa.

      I also remain completely clueless as to why American audiences in particular watch a trailer but still decide to see the full movie, even though they complained at the trailer stage that it looked like a crap film. Generally, I had the assumption that if a trailer failed to raise enough interest, the person in question shouldn’t go ahead and buy a ticket to watch it anyway. Kinda defeats the point of trailers.

      It’s like watching the rundown of news items at the start of a news show and thinking “meh, none of those stories interest me, I’ll sit and watch it for the full 30 minutes anyway just for the hell of it”.

  8. So being a fan of the underworld series (exclude the new one) will my money be well spent here or should I wait.

  9. I would give it a 3. Good not great. A few spots where the comic book style dialogue got hamhanded, and a few annoying continuity issues. Where did the body on the operating table go?

  10. The review actually sounded decent. I had hope, and thoughts of seeing it this weekend. Until ….3% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    • RT means nothing, don’t let them dictate to you. If you’re interested in seeing the movie, go watch it, don’t avoid it because RT has it rated as low. You might be amongst the 3% that enjoy it.

      • I agree with Dazz RT is a cherry picked critic score joke.

      • Wrong. They’ve been spot on for me. When you have limited time to see movies, I’d rather take the time to see ones that aren’t stinkers. I don’t let them “dictate” what I watch, but I use them to figure out what I want to check out or not. Actually reading the various reviews and user reviews can be helpful.

  11. Sounds like what I was expecting! Fun popcorn entertainment with a little sprinkle of cheese. :)

  12. So I guess you call this “Oy, Frankenstein”?

  13. I hate the stupid meme about the name being wrong, I really do. Yes, it’s a cheesy movie but no one who actually read the book and saw this corny movie would say that. First, the name is explained in the film. Also in the novel the creature viewed Victor as his father. What son does not take his father’s surname? This isn’t even the first time the creature has used the name Adam. He was also Adam in Dark Shadows. And in the novel he was quite fond of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. He says to Victor “I should have been thy Adam.” and “I am the Adam of your Labors.”

    I know I, Frankenstein is a cheesefest but the hate seems a bit displaced.

    1. People complaining about the name. This is a major pet peeve of mine. It’s been two hundred years and The Creature has to call himself something.

    2. Why do people complain about The Frankenstein Monster co-existing with demons and Gargoyles? Have they not seen House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, Monster squad or Frankenstein meets The Wolfman? There have been stranger pairings and mashups involving The Frankenstein Monster.

    3. Why is it everyone seems to think it’s wrong to let the Frankenstein Monster (who was pretty much designed to live forever) to exist in the modern world yet no one complains when Dracula is put in a modern setting? Dracula actually died at the end of his novel. The Frankenstein Monster merely said he was going to kill himself and wandered into the North Pole.

    • Thanks,glad more people liked this Movie !

    • I see plenty of complaints when Dracula is placed in a modern setting.

      I even see complaints when Dracula is placed in a not so modern setting with modern relevancy, pretending to be an American in the UK and fighting Big Oil by pushing years before it’s time wireless green energy because Dracula gets back at his enemies through stocks instead of killing them.

      • Oh, I dislike NBC’s Dracula but not because of him being a business man. No, that worked well for the Canadian Dracula from the 90s. The NBC Dracula’s accent is terrible, his shapeshifting powers are lost, and how about his diabolical plan to (gasp!) stand up Lady Jayne… Contradicting his other efforts with her entirely in order to act like an angered teenager briefly. The characterizations are inconsistant and he’s impressively whiny.

  14. the original Frankenstein was a thought provoking look at human nature and mortality, where, as in all good monster movies, it held up a mirror to show the true monster. To take a classic tale and turn it into this 12 year olds wet dream, makes me sad.
    Why not create a new character and new lore if youre so into world building instead of bastardizing this classic symbol in an attempt a quick cash grab

    • I’m a purist toward the novel. If you claim you’re adapting the novel I want the novel. But this isn’t the novel. It’s sort of a fan fiction sequel. I can deal with that. Why does no one ranting about this not being the book shake their fists at the Hammer films or the 1930s and 40s Universal Studios films that gave him a flat head and bolts in his neck and transformed The creature into stumbling idiot? You won’t poke at those because they are classics yet what makes them superior to this? They don’t follow the book, not in the least.

      The creature was never the product of pure science. Victor was a student, not a doctor, and he found the secret of life while reading the work of Paracelsus (an alchemist), adn Agrippa (a sorcerer). The moral was not about how you shouldn’t play God or how science goes too far. No, the novel goes out of it’s way to tell you how kind the creature was at first, and selfless. It was human cruelty and the rejection from his creator / Father that caused his fall from grace. The novel’s original themes were about parental responsibility and how revenge brings no peace but only ruin for all involved.

      The poor creature had long black hair, perfect white teeth, pale, tightly drawn skin, watery eyes, and learned (in a matter of months) to read and speak eloquently in three languages. He had a gift for speaking far superior to Victor.

      So why does no one rage against House of Frankenstein, Frankenestein Meets the wolfman, Frankenstein And the monster from Hell or even Monster Squad? None of those versions are in Shelley’s novel but this one at least used the novel for it’s back story.

      This film might be a cheesy mess and a guilty pleasure waiting to happen but people are hating it for all the wrong reasons.

    • To be fair, this film’s source is a graphic novel that itself changed things from the original book. This film is not at all based on the original book.

  15. I’ve just seen it in theatre and I have to see it is far, far better than I had expected. It is not a groundbreaking experience such as TDK, Avatar or Star Trek 2009, but it is far from being a bad movie. It doesn’t deserve its ridiculously low RT rating.

    It is on par with the second and fourth Underworld flicks, Van Helsing or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and it is certainly in that vein. It’s a fresh new escapist take on the Frankenstein mythology and being a loose semi-sequel it is also a great extension to that myth – it looks and sounds great throughout (though the 3D didn’t really work for me) and it derserves to do much better at the box office…

    Obviously mainstream audiences are done with that sort of PG-13 fantasy flick, which I personally still adore. That’s why films like Mortal Instruments: City of Bones or Percy Jackson didn’t do too well last year and even The Hobbit didn’t break any records to say the least…

    Times seem to be changing and there isn’t much we can do. I’m glad it got made and will be available for multiple viewings on BD soon along with a great many more movies from the last 15 years. It’s been a wonderful time and I’m sad to see this genre fall apart…

    • Well put, I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot understand the massively low RT rating.
      I can only guess that the religious element put off a lot of liberal idealogue critics and/or the plan to wipe out much of the world’s population and enslave the rest was too close to the truth of what the New World Order (who own the media, many critics and much of Hollywood) is doing.

  16. In all honesty, I really enjoyed the movie. It’s definitely the kind of film that’s ‘so bad its good’, but its way better than the 5% on Rotten Tomatoes would let on.

  17. Nice 6th place showing there Stuart Beattie. See you in the bargain bin.

  18. For me the best bit about Van Helsing was the start – when it was still in B&W – then it got silly with a blur of CGI. Sadly these movie suck us in , thinking were going to get a real classic monster movie – but we end up with a monster turkey & a waste of 2 hours out of our short lives.

  19. can anyone please tell me what happened in the first 10 minutes of the movie I Frankenstein?….I walked in late.
    thanks

    • An intro/flashback describing Frankenstein’s creation and attempted murder of Adam, a wicked scene with gargoyle’s coming to the rescue of Frankenstein and wasting demons in the graveyard where Adam buried his father.

  20. Vampires & Werewolves are so 2011.
    2014 are all about Gargoyles & Frankenstein.

  21. so one thing

    no ones going to notice that HUGE bottomless hole in the middle of Modern London?

  22. Didn’t this director bash the Marvel cinematic universe? And his movie got a 2 out of 5? Looks like someone needs to learn to watch their mouth.