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"I, FRANKENSTEIN"
(2014) (Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action Fantasy: Frankenstein's monster may hold the key to ending a centuries-old war between Satan's demons and God's gargoyles here on Earth.
PLOT:
In the late 1700s, a scientist named Dr. Victor Frankenstein (ADEN YOUNG) uses electrical currents to reanimate a human being who he has sewn together using a dozen different body parts from eight different corpses. The monster, eventually named Adam (AARON ECKHART), turns on his creator and becomes a hunted man. Those doing the hunting are demons from Hell and gargoyles from Heaven, locked in a centuries-old war for the fate of mankind.

The demons under the leadership of the Dark Prince Naberius (BILL NIGHY) want to harness Frankenstein's science to reanimate hundreds of human corpses collected over the decades to make an army. Naberius employs a human scientist named Terra (YVONNE STRAHOVSKI) to continue Frankenstein's experiments in the modern day. Meanwhile, the gargoyles under the leadership of Queen Leonore (MIRANDO OTTO) fear that Adam lacks a mortal soul, yet still want to use his great strength and speed to their advantage in battle.

Adam eventually must choose sides after Naberius' and Leonore's top army commanders -- Zuriel (SOCRATIS OTTO) and Gideon (JAI COURTNEY) both attempt to kill him. When it becomes known that Leonore has been hiding Frankenstein's manual on how to reanimate dead people for decades, demons plot to steal it for their own nefarious purposes. Adam, meanwhile, is hopeful the book holds the key to his origins.

OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
This film was not screened for the reviewing press. In such cases, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

Some movies are concocted during L.A. brainstorming sessions in which Hollywood creative types bounce ideas off each other. Other scripts come about as a result of studio pitch sessions, merchandising meetings, and other industry gatherings. "I, Frankenstein" seems to have been brought to life by writer-director Stuart Beattie eavesdropping on some bored 8-year-olds in church whisper-yelling to each other, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if angels fought demons?!" "No, it'd be cooler if gargoyles fought demons!" "You know what would be even cooler?!" "What?" "If gargoyles fought demons and then fought Frankenstein's monster!!!"

Ladies and gents, I give you the new "I, Frankenstein," a movie in which the usually interesting Aaron Eckhart walks through most of the film in slow-motion (it's not clear if this is the director actually employing slo-mo, or if Aaron is actually walking THAT slow throughout). He does so while sporting one single, pissed-off expression on that dimpled, scarred-up mug (seriously, the man NEVER once gives the camera anything but a single, constipated grimace). Oh, and I kid you not. Throughout the entire film, Eckhart affects Christian Bale's gravelly Batman voice from the "Dark Knight" films. The performance would be completely comical if the man weren't playing the whole silly thing dead serious.

Eckhart does indeed play Frankenstein's monster, rechristened here as "Adam," who survives for centuries as a war is waged between demons from Hell and gargoyles from Heaven. I'm not gonna mince words, folks. The film is utterly preposterous and riddled with plot holes. For instance, Miranda Otto's Gargoyle Queen Leonore chastises her forces that their battles must be kept secret from human eyes. And then her forces wage one epic battle after another on the streets of some vague Euro City ... just at a time of night when apparently not a single human is awake and stirring. These battles crumble buildings, flatten cars, and leave behind huge blazes. And I can only surmise that the local population wakes up every morning and says, "Oh, come on! Again?!" It's the insurance claims adjustors that I pity in these near-future dystopias.

Oh and yes. Whenever a demon is killed, he or she literally bleeds fire and explodes, and whenever a gargoyle is killed, he or she literally bleeds blinding light that ascends up to the night sky in the form of celestial beams. Yet not a single human notices. Not one smartphone records any of it.

The plot centers on Bill Nighy's Dark Prince Naberius wanting to retrieve Dr. Frankenstein's centuries-old manual on how to reanimate human beings. Naberius has been collecting human corpses for years and years, hooking them up to elaborate electrodes in a factory-like warehouse in the hopes that one day, Frankenstein's science can be harnessed to reanimate these dead people into an army of possessed minions. Leonore was able to take possession of this book in the late 1700s soon after Adam was created. Knowing that the book contained the one secret Satan himself wants, what does Leonore do? Burn it? Rip it to shreds? Oh no. She locks it away in her vault for decades. Yeah, the demons will never come for it.

The film indeed plays out like it was made by 8-year-olds with Hollywood money. The gargoyles all live in one big cathedral at the center of town. The demons are all holed up in a mansion on the other side of the city. And although these two sides have been battling for centuries, none of the dummy gargoyles ever thinks to follow one of them home. Not one! Seriously, their mansion remains a mystery until Adam leads them to it in 2014! Ugh. To Hell with this movie. I give it a 2.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed January 23, 2014 / Posted January 24, 2014


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