“I am like none other,” says Frankenstein’s creature (Aaron Eckhart), christened “Adam” by Leonore (Miranda Otto), high queen of the gargoyles.
“Not human, not gargoyle, not demon,” Adam says. Created in 1795 by Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Adam finds himself – 200 years later – caught between two warring clans of immortal beings, demons and gargoyles. Descended from fallen angel Satan, demons seek to destroy humans; gargoyles, charged by St. Michael, the archangel, with defeating demons, are protectors of the human race. For different reasons, both demons and gargoyles want Adam dead. That’s the setup for this dark, ho-hum, graphic-novel fantasy.
Does Naberius (Bill Nighy), prince of the demons, succeed in his nefarious plan? Will Gideon (Jai Courtney), advisor to Lenore, kill Adam? Can Dr. Terra Ward, eminent electro-physiologist (Yvonne Strahovski), suspend disbelief and join gargoyles in their war with demons? See “I, Frankenstein,” only if these seem important questions.
Actors in special-effects fantasies like this one often have little to do except say their lines, dash about, battle bad guys, and register one or two emotions. Aaron Eckhart, as title character, acts angst and anger, but also narrates the film. He is a remarkably articulate creature (compared to Boris Karlorff and Peter Boyle, who played the same character in the 1931 original and “Young Frankenstein,” 1974 – both way better pictures). “Trusting humans is a mistake you make only once,” Adam says, reflecting on his unhappy relationship with Victor Frankenstein. As demon Naberius, Bill Nighy does not much more than raise an eyebrow and snarl, but he does them really well.
Others in the cast include comely Yvonne Strahovski as Dr. Terra Ward, rational scientist, initially dubious. “I’m sorry,” she says to Adam, “I can’t believe in gargoyles and demons.” But she does register interest when Eckhart takes off his shirt. “Nice pecs and abs,” she seems to be thinking. Miranda Otto is serious-minded Lenore. “Each of us has a higher purpose,” she says to Adam. “Yours has yet to revel itself.” Jai Courtney is unconvinced gargoyle Gideon.
“I, Frankenstein” is a not-very-smart, noisy, dark fantasy, based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux who appears as Dekar in the film. Stuart Beattie directs and helped Grevioux write the screenplay. It includes this clunky dialog: “Will this help?” says Adam, offering Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory journal. “I haven’t had a chance to finish reading it yet,” Terra says. “You’re only a monster if you behave like one,” she tells Adam later. Rated PG-13 for intense fantasy action and violence, “I, Frankenstein” is one you can safely miss.
Forget, “I, Frankenstein,”
Mostly noise and hooey –
Creature, gargoyles, demons –
Then they go kerflooey.