The Modern Prometheus has issues and some of that gets explored in I, Frankenstein. While this film tries to follow after the events from Mary Shelley’s masterpiece novel, Frankenstein, the events do not continue in that universe. The tale and focus shifts to that of a comic book one, completely toned down by writer/director Stuart Beattie for a general PG-13 rated audience to enjoy. Fans of the graphic novel of the same name most likely will appreciate this film more.
This time around, the monster’s perspective is central to this tale. His feelings of being totally isolated and attempts to integrate into society are at the core of this film. But not everyone will understand how this monster has transformed through the ages. Various concepts from the original source material are planted in this movie — like the purveyance of the Gothic tradition and the thematic symbolism of fire and light — but as for how all of that will explode on-screen depends on who can understand this film.
At face level, this popcorn B-movie shows that the Frankenstein monster will walk into a hidden war that has raged on for centuries. This world created by comic book creator Kevin Grevioux and Beattie fits right in with the Underworld universe. Since they crafted this quadrillogy, this look is no surprise. And if a crossover gets planned, thankfully there can be only one golem who can become a great equalizer should all the supernatural beasts go into an all out world war. The Vampires and Lycans better look out!
In Beattie’s and Grevioux’s world, the Gargoyles are agents of Heaven who are fighting “in behalf” of Heaven to keep the unruly Demons at bay. As for why the Angels are not involved, perhaps that might get addressed in another story. The beast is named Adam (Aaron Eckhart) by Leonore (Miranda Otto), the Queen of the Gargoyles. Although he does not know who is truly friend or foe, Adam still struggles wondering if he truly has a soul or not, and like a certain little wooden puppet who wishes for more, both character’s true worth and purpose gets interestingly tested.
The screenplay tries to engage viewers about why viewers should care for the creation made by a mad scientist. Is the thing that emerged from the womb a beast or something more? Unfortunately, this 93 minute movie is not enough time to engage viewers into figuring out the creature’s pathos. The acting is decent, but all the performers have done better in other projects. The movie is only as good as how the script tells them how to play it.
Here, a fair chunk of the movie requires viewers to at least know the lore and perhaps read the comic book prologue. Had there been the right promotional material to distribute to audiences waiting for the movie to start, namely a comic, then this movie might have made more sense. But like any version, retelling or re-imaging of a product, only further study of the original source material can help viewers realize what a new version is trying to tell. Without it, I Frankenstein feels like a film that certainly belongs in the same caliber as Beattie’s previous films, namely G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
This writer/director does manage to tell one idea successfully. If Adam is to become a modern hero that is much like Prometheus of legend, then he will just have to figure out how to tell humanity that when they are not looking the other way. Unfortunately, most of the times, they are all waiting with guns, rifles and pitchforks.