Frankenstein is a historical masterpiece that has travelled through the centuries, with a greatness of wonder and scientific legend. Director, Stuart Beattie and screenwriter, Kevin Grevioux (producer of Underworld) reconstruct Mary Shelley’s story of Frankenstein in this film adaptation, I, Frankenstein, with the aim of developing a new tale for the monstrous creation. With Aaron Eckhart taking lead as Adam, the audience should expect the buried remains to be redeemed on screen. However, not all scientific legends are designed to be resurrected.
In a modern dystopian universe, Victor Frankenstein’s magnificent invention ‘Adam’ is brought to life and cast amidst a centuries old war that exists between Demons and Gargoyles. The film quickly plunges into a series of action sequences, spliced in with scenes of the monster being betrayed or hunted. I, Frankenstein disregards the vital story, with very little screen time dedicated to how Adam was bludgeoned back to life by a madman and what came of Victor Frankenstein.
Starting at the cemetery, Adam is confronted by demonic fiends who are seeking the scientific journal of his existence for the Demon Prince, Naberius (Bill Nighy). The Demons are adamant about recreating Victor Frankenstein’s method for resurrecting the dead, to fulfil their own ends of returning descended Demons. Whereas, the Gargoyle Order are portrayed initially as the righteous side that take Adam into their “secret” headquarters to safeguard the unique creature. Only, the High Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) is more driven to protect the journal and Gargoyles, instead of Adam.
There were moments in the story that were completely illogical and failed to uphold succinct narrative progression. After Adam decided to flee in hiding for 200 years, he returned as the hunter of Demons, determined to find Naberius and put an end to the war for the sake of humanity. When the Gargoyle Order discovers the return of Adam, they imprison the creature instead of helping him. Funnily enough, Adam states earlier to the audience, “Trusting others is a mistake you only make once”. The changing motivations and goals of the characters within the film, especially the Gargoyles, contradict the plot and impede the storyline. I found myself questioning whether Adam should move on with his own existence and not care about whether the human race survives this war.
The most intriguing elements of the story revolved around the experimental research on rats in the Wessex Institute, where the Demon Prince, disguised as Charles Wessex, had been conducting his master plan to awaken the dead. Dr. Terra Wade (Yvonne Strahovski) serves as a changing point in the film that reiterates the reasoning behind Adam’s actions; a creature in need of a companion.
Cinematographer, Ross Emery does an exceptional job in capturing an amazing 3D visual experience for the audience. As each of the demons are slain and descended back to Hell, they are accompanied by an impressive looking pillar of fire that erupts forth and snakes its way through the air before smashing back into the ground below. However, the excessive fireworks display saturates the screen and becomes too overwhelming for viewers to appreciate the battle sequences. The special effects utilised for the super powered fighting scenes in I, Frankenstein are spectacular and stands as a highlight for the film. The fight between Adam and Demon Prince in Wessex Institute was glorious to witness, as well as the struggle with another Demon in the abandoned warehouse.
One aspect that was questionable, was the fact that the film emphasised that the “war must be fought in the shadows”. Yet every conflict that the Gargoyles engaged in takes place either in the middle of the street, or ends in the utter destruction of buildings. In that same vein, the secret base of the Gargoyle Order is a giant castle in the middle of a (presumably) well-populated city.
A little visual cue that I did notice was that around Adam’s eyes were what first appeared to be thick black rings. However towards the end of the film, I noticed that the rings were actually a dark shade of green – a little nod to the theatrical past of the character where he was the green-skinned monster that we have all come to know.
Composers, Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek maintain an adventurous theme of music, to suit the atmosphere of the film. The fast paced and drilling succession of music climbs into a crescendo that becomes too apparent in every action-packed sequence. Nevertheless, the score for I, Frankenstein does a good job at capturing the dark and gothic styling of the monster. If there is any real downside to the way the movie sounds, it is the fact that Aaron Eckhart uses the same voice for Adam that he does for Two-Face in The Dark Knight. Being such an iconic character in the past, it made it difficult to differentiate between the pair when watching this film. I could not help but wonder whether or not Adam was going to start flipping a coin.
I, Frankenstein is simply an over-the-top action film that draws on Demons and Gargoyles, much like Vampires and Werewolves from Underworld. The film bastardises the rich history and impact that the original novel has left on the world. Whereas Mary Shelley’s novel, is about the hubris of man and how technology can run rampant (depending on your interpretation). The truth is that Frankenstein’s monster, Adam is misplaced in this film, which would have been better off without his inclusion. On a final note, it is important to know that Frankenstein’s Monster has become so imbedded into western culture; people have been incorrectly referring to him as Frankenstein. However, in this film adaptation, the movie manages cleverly warp that so Frankenstein is the monster’s surname (as Victor Frankenstein was his father). Unfortunately, the Demon’s still refer to him by the name “Frankenstein,” which enrages the character in much the same way that die-hard fans of the franchise do.
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