92 Min. | Action – Fantasy – Sci-Fi | January 2014
IMDB Rating: 5.2
Director: Stuart Beattie
Staring: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Miranda Otto
I, Frankenstein Review: Where before it was vampires versus werewolves, it is the battle of the gargoyles and demons that takes centrestage in the fantasy action thriller ‘I, Frankenstein’. Based on the Darkstorm Studios graphic novel by one of the creators of ‘Underworld’, it tells of its titular character’s struggle between good and evil in the midst of an all-out, centuries old war among two immortal clans of superhuman creatures. But as exciting as that may sound, you’ll quickly find that the burden of ‘Underworld’ hangs too heavily like an anchor around its neck. Indeed, you had better take the tagline at the top of the poster which reads ‘from the producers of ‘Underworld” seriously. Too faint-hearted to mess with a formula that has worked for four films now, the same team of producers and ‘Underworld’ co-creator Kevin Grevioux have simply applied the same to their unabashed attempt at replicating its success. And that is precisely what co-writer and director Stuart Beattie has done in his sophomore feature film, which plays like an equally dark but less sexy clone of the decade-old franchise.
Like ‘Underworld’, the lead protagonist finds himself an outsider caught between two warring factions. Whereas Selene was a human turned vampire who found herself falling in love with a Lycan, Adam is here a monstrosity borne from Frankenstein’s laboratory who finds himself wanted by both the gargoyles and the demons. A freak of nature not of Nature’s making, Adam is also thought to be soulless, and therefore a perfect living example of the ‘walking dead’ whom the demons hope to create by summoning the souls of the damned to inhabit the walking warm bodies on Earth. By virtue of being an outsider, either protagonist soon realises that he or she can trust neither side. While Selene discovers the ones who killed her family were in fact her own coven of vampires she now calls family, Adam is during the course of the movie betrayed by Gideon, the leader of the gargoyle army, and no less than Leonore herself, the angel whom Gideon and his army protect and whom serves as their spiritual link with God. Indeed, both narratives unfold such that their lead protagonist finds himself or herself isolated on either side and is therefore forced to be his or her own best guardian.
Yes, there’s no escaping the self-seriousness of ‘Underworld’ or ‘I, Frankenstein’, which approach their apocalyptic doomsday scenarios with the utmost solemnity. As is to be expected then, none of the roles call for much from their respective actors – except maybe for Eckhart to look the most buff we’ve ever recall seeing him been on the screen. Bill Nighy should certainly know – he who plays the chief villain here was also the key baddie in ‘Underworld: Evolution’. Certainly, he should be distinctly aware of the intention to recreate the success of the ‘Underworld’ movies by essentially rehashing the same formula with a different set of monsters. You’ll be advised too to toss aside what preconceptions you may have based on Mary Shelley’s novel or even Boris Karloff’s monosyllabic screen icon; this ‘I, Frankenstein’ is more ‘I, Underworld’ than anything else.