Monday, January 27, 2014

'I, Frankenstein' continues tradition of January stinkers

This review was originally published on the KPC Media Group website. Read the original review here

It's so nice that movie studios let audiences stay home during the cold winter months.

That has to be the reason that they released "I, Frankenstein" during January, right? Anybody who ventures out in the cold and snow to see this stinker is crazy. You'd be better off staying home and watching Netflix. Or a DVD. Or the snow fall, or melt, depending on the weather report. It's not worth getting up off the couch to see this movie.

"I, Frankenstein" follows Victor Frankenstein's monster (Aaron Eckhart). After killing his master, he is attacked by demons. But before the demons can get him, he's saved by a group of gargoyles, led by the queen gargoyle, Leonore (Miranda Otto). The gargoyles, who can switch from flying stone beasts to a human appearance with a swish of a cape, try to get the monster, who Leonore names Adam, to help them kill demons, but he refuses. Fast-forward 200 years, and a big, bad demon (Bill Nighy) is trying to figure out the secret of reanimating corpses - just like Frankenstein did to Adam.

No, I am not making any of this up, despite the fact it sounds like a goth kid's fever dream, right down to the part where the story doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

It's sad that such a bad movie came from a relatively cool concept. Frankenstein's monster in the modern world, fighting demons alongside gargoyles sent from heaven by the archangel Michael. Yes, it's still a goofy concept, but in the hands of an excellent writer and director it could be a super hip supernatural thriller.

Sadly, "I, Frankenstein" just plods along with about as much life as Frankenstein's monster before it was zapped with electricity. The plot is nearly incoherent, with characters' motivations changing every 10 minutes. The city where the movie takes place (it's never explained where it's supposed to be) doesn't have a strong vision and just feels bland.

Aaron Eckhart is a dull leading man for "I, Frankenstein," too. The most exciting thing in his boring performance is when he pulls off his shirt, revealing an artfully scarred, totally ripped chest. But, it isn't worth the price of admission. Other than that brief interlude, Eckhart delivers his lines in a completely wooden fashion, without a hint of irony or enjoyment or even interest in what's going on. Bill Nighy, at least, is more fun to watch. He chews the scenery as the bad guy, complete with delightful dramatic pauses. I think he's at least trying.

There are a few laughs to be had when watching "I, Frankenstein." I certainly enjoyed whispering snide comments to my husband when the plot took yet another inexplicable turn, but that's also no reason to bother with seeing a movie like this in the theaters.

Despite a concept that could have worked, nearly everybody involved with "I, Frankenstein" just seemed to phone it in. The result is a big, sloppy mess, otherwise known as "just another January at the movies."

Jenny's Take: See it on DVD.
(Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout. Runs 92 minutes.)

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