I, Frankenstein, from the trailers looks like Underworld, but it’s really not; there is, thankfully, no asinine love story. It’s actually a throwback to the grimdark comic book heroes of the ’90s with far more talent involved than there really should be for something like this. And the results aren’t good, but man are they ever entertaining.
Just To Be Clear, This Movie Is Not Good By Any Objective Measure
There are some movies where you can just tell the script has, at least once, the words “Cue metal solo” written into an action sequence, and I, Frankenstein is one of those movies. It’s the kind of movie where you can predict what the actor is going to say before it comes out of his mouth. It’s the kind of movie where a lot of problems could have been solved in the first act with a lighter, since Victor Frankenstein’s notes are one of five different plot devices in the script, and that’s just one of dozens of plot holes.
To give you an idea of how dumb this movie is, you can only kill demons using blessed weapons. How do you bless a weapon? By drawing four lines on it. Seriously, Frankenstein makes one of these on his own, in the woods, with a box of scraps. So basically you can kill a demon with a pen and paper. Handy!
Similarly, Yvonne Strahovski has nothing to do. She is the Hot Scientist and the Love Interest, but really she’s a plot point that walks. At least they put her in flats instead of ridiculous high heels. So, yes, it’s not art.
It Is, However, Enormously Entertaining
I, Frankenstein redeems itself, though, largely thanks to Stuart Beattie, who rewrote the screenplay and took this as his second directing job, and the cast. Everybody involved knows exactly how ridiculous this paycheck gig is, and so they pretty much go for broke.
Aaron Eckhart really enjoys growling and being ridiculous; he plays Frankenstein absolutely seriously. You can tell he took the role because he wanted to punch things and have a good time. Bill Nighy also stands out; one scene in particular is far funnier than it should be, largely thanks to Nighy and Beattie.
In other words, tongue is placed just enough in cheek to make this movie enjoyably dumb. I’ll take a movie like this over a movie that’s both dumb and thuddingly dull like The Legend of Hercules, and at least the action sequences, which combine beating dudes with giant metal sticks and dudes exploding into CGI fireballs (cue metal solo), are well shot and amusingly gleeful in their violence. Watching a CGI gargoyle rip a dude apart as he immediately catches on fire is undeniably van art in motion, but it’s also pretty funny.
Most importantly, unlike a lot of movies like this, it’s not self-importantly bloated. Shave off the credits and it’s a trim eighty minutes or so. Going more than five minutes without a beating or something else happening is a cardinal sin in a movie like this that it thankfully avoids.
In short, I, Frankenstein is exactly as dumb as it looks, but it knows it. Hell, it glories in it. If you can’t make a fine wine, at least you can make a decent slice of cheese.