“I, Frankenstein” is every bit as ridiculous, self-serious, and unsubtle as I was during my late teens/early twenties. It felt like such a product of the early ’90’s that I got a weird sense of nostalgia watching it. If my “Vampire: the Masquerade” playing, “Crow” reading, Disney’s “Gargoyles” watching younger self was able to make a movie, it would be eerily similar to “I, Frankenstein.” The only thing missing was a Nine Inch Nails wannabe blaring on the soundtrack during the film’s many fight scenes.
The movie begins with a Wikipedia synopsis of Mary Shelley’s novel. Frankenstein’s monster (Aaron Eckhart) has reclaimed the body of his creator and buried it when he is accosted by some demons right out of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He quickly dispatches the demons back to hell, but he’s immediately approached by some gargoyles claiming to be emissaries from God. The gargoyle’s leader names Frankenstein’s creation “Adam” and tries to enlist him in their war against the demons. Adam wants no part of it, preferring to wander the earth in search of meaning. Centuries later, the demons start hassling Adam again, so he decides to end their shit once and for all. The always entertaining Bill Nighy shows up, a female scientist in search of the secrets of reanimation gets involved, and fights break out.
As the affirmative title “I, Frankenstein” suggests, the core of the film deals with Adam’s search for meaning. The film acknowledges that sons take the names of their fathers, so calling the creation “Frankenstein” isn’t necessarily incorrect. I liked all of this stuff, but there were things that I wish were handled differently. While “Frankenstein” is a horror novel, its creature is borne of scientific inquiry. I would have preferred it if this movie’s allies and foes paid lip service to weird science rather than supernatural forces. Mary Shelley’s novel existed in a universe where the forces of good and evil were not depicted in such absolutist terms. I admittedly like stories where Frankenstein’s monster interacts with other iconic characters like Dracula, but this “gargoyles vs. demons” storyline didn’t fit with the grander themes of the novel.
Criticizing this movie is pointless since the trailer promises exactly what you’re going to get. Hated the trailer? Don’t see it. However, merely watching Frankenstein’s monster depicted as a Batman-esque “dark avenger” beating the shit out of things evoked a Pavlovian response in me. In other words, I enjoyed it, but your mileage will vary.