BY STEWART SMITH
Who is “I, Frankenstein” for? Seriously, I want to know. Who was really clamoring for a big screen adaptation of some unknown comic book property created by one of the “Underworld” actors?
I’m guessing probably only the “Underworld” actor.
Who knows? Maybe there’s a quiet legion of “I, Frankenstein” fans out there who wept for joy and tightly clutched their mint condition first issues of the comic when it was announced that Aaron Eckhart would bring their favorite grim and brooding anti-hero to life. Perhaps these tens of fans lined up in droves to the advance screening to behold the masterful maelstrom of generic CGI and baffling use of the Eskrima fighting style. (Seriously, how does a monster wandering the world for 200 years manage to learn this on his own?) And surely they marveled at finally finding a movie in which not even Bill Nighy could muster the enthusiasm to give a performance worth a rip.
This thing is basically a microcosm of everything that’s been wrong with comics and similar properties for decades. The hero (Frankenstein’s monster) broods for eternity before getting caught up in some pre-fab, pre-apocalyptic battle between Heaven and Hell (angelic gargoyles and demons) before (almost arbitrarily) deciding he must become the world’s defender.
Poor Aaron Eckhart. I like the guy a lot and I think he’s got some solid, largely untapped potential but he just can’t seem to catch a consistent break. He wants so desperately to have a role to pour himself into, so it’s almost a little heartbreaking to watch him turn the brooding intensity here up to “11,” only for it to be in service of an astoundingly dull and generic movie.
I’m actually having a difficult time finding the words to express just how boring this thing is or finding a reason to get truly mad at it. “I, Frankenstein” will fade from memory (and all but existence) pretty quickly so it feels like a waste of time and energy to get really worked up over something so anonymous. It doesn’t even have the decency to have a weird or warped sensibility to it, and instead just takes itself so seriously that you can’t help but check out almost immediately.
There are some bad movies that are so bad they’re enjoyable. There are some movies that are mostly ignorable but make for decent background fodder when they show up on cable TV a year or so later. “I, Frankenstein” is neither.
Let’s put it this way. I have a long-standing feud regarding the first “Underworld” movie. My good friend Eric Barton loves it, while I consider it a boring, derivative waste of time. We’ve never stopped trading barbs about this movie for more than a decade. And when compared to this film “Underworld” suddenly becomes a stunning example of rich world-building and quality action filmmaking.
Here’s hoping this corpse of a movie never gets reanimated.