Frankenstein film ruined by poor writing, directing

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Last week saw the release of I, Frankenstein on Jan. 24. The film stars Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually). A re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, does I, Frankenstein break the bad movie trend that is the month of January?

The movie begins in 1795 with Victor Frankenstein (Aden Young) and the creation of his monster (Eckhart). Frankenstein rejects his creation, which causes the monster to kill Frankenstein’s wife in a fit of rage. Victor then chases the being into the Arctic but eventually freezes to death in the snow. The monster finds his creator and buries him in his family cemetery.

Frankenstein’s monster then encounters an order of gargoyles and learns about an ongoing war between gargoyles and demons, who are led by their demon prince Naberius (Nighy).

For some reason, Naberius has an interest in Frankenstein’s monster, who is named Adam by the gargoyle queen Lenore (Otto). Now involved in a centuries-old war, Adam has to fight whether he wants to or not.

There are many problems with this movie, but first, a look at the positives. Eckhart’s performance was a definite plus; with films such as The Dark Knight, Erin Brokovich and Thank You For Not Smoking under his belt, he has a lot of experience in acting.

Every scene felt like Eckhart was really trying to bring this character to life. Unfortunately, his efforts in the movie are marred with a poorly-written role in a poorly-written movie, but more on that later.

Another good point was the cinematography. Action scenes were shot wide and with minimal use of shaky cam or quick cutting. Bill Nighy’s performance was also entertaining to watch; his on-screen presence is noticeable and interesting, reminiscent of his portrayal of the monstrous Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

However, these positives do absolutely nothing to lift this film from the cinematic quagmire it has made for itself.

First, the special effects in the film were atrocious. The models and animations for the gargoyles in the film were so ridiculous that they bordered on cartoonish, taking the viewer straight out of the movie every time they appeared. The makeup was so cheesy that it was laughable, especially for the demons themselves.

Next is the writing. The characters in this film seem to take these situations so seriously, but by the end of it, there has been no character development and everything that transpired in the film meant nothing to the viewer. This made it extremely difficult to care for any of the characters or the plot.

The pacing was another issue as well. Scenes that are supposed to feel epic or big just fail because the direction and writing do not bring any emotion or thrill to the screen.

Stuart Beattie, who directed and wrote this film, has written good films before, such as Collateral and the successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. However, for I, Frankenstein, Beattie has managed to create a complete train wreck of a movie comparable to the Resident Evil or Underworld series: cheesy sci-fi action films that are quickly forgotten.

Whereas Pirates of the Caribbean managed to be a quirky character study, partly thanks to Johnny Depp, this film lacks any memorable characters with concrete goals or personalities. They fall under the general category of bad guys and good guys.

Hopefully now that the wasteland of movies known as January is finally ending, some enjoyable ones might finally be released in theaters.

Our Take: 1/5