"I, Frankenstein": a noteworthy comic book adaptation that doesn't try to be more than it is.
A secret war between good and evil has raged for centuries. In the shadows and dark of night, the fate of the world is decided by incarnations of life and death while a clueless humanity meanders about doing whatever it is humans do.
No, it is not "Underworld X," but you wouldn't be wrong for thinking it might be. The similarities in tone and plot are undeniable. Just like "Underworld," those with a taste for this genre are likely to enjoy it.
Directed by Stuart Beattie, "I, Frankenstein" follows the life of Frankenstein's Creature as he becomes enmeshed in the eternal struggle between Demons and Gargoyles. Played artfully by genre veteran, Aaron Eckhart ("The Core," "Battle: Los Angeles"), the Creature struggles to decide where his place should be.
He is neither man nor beast nor demon or gargoyle. His ultimate allegiance is only to himself. Yet, Eckhart's portrayal evinces humanity in the creature even in moments of depravity and violence.
Based on the Darkstorm Studios graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, the plot is fairly straightforward and the pacing is tight as the movie unfolds. This is a by-the-numbers genre film that does little to stand out from similar offerings in the genre but doesn't get in its own way by trying to be more than it is. As a result, the story isn't particularly deep nor does it bravely tread over untrammeled territory.
There are moments when cheese creeps in, but these are either unavoidable in the genre or mercifully brief. Miranda Otto plays Queen Leonore with the same grace that made her stand out in "The Two Towers" and "Return of the King," yet she is able to add a hint of ambiguity to the noble gargoyle to keep us uncertain as to her intentions toward the creature.
Bill Nighy plays the evil genius we all wish we could be. He plays demon Prince Naberius who is after the secret of the creature's immortality, cold and disinterested with everything but his goals. There is such menace in this understated performance that only Nighy could pull off. He could read a cake recipe and come off as a convincing criminal mastermind.
The rest of the performances are on par with similar genre films. Again, no one stands out in a good or a bad manner.
A hallmark of classic Hollywood editing is that it does not draw attention to itself. Marcus D'Arcy does an admirable job of keeping the pacing and cinematic flow going. The use of 3D is proficient and doesn't give a headache like many recent films have done.
The score by Reinhold Heil and Johnny Klimek, while not particularly memorable, contributes to the tone and emotions of the movie. The CGI isn't what it could have been but it isn't bad either.
"I, Frankenstein" is not without flaw, but it concentrates on its strengths. The plot is shallow, but the pacing keeps one interested. The characters are one dimensional, but veteran actors add personal touches that breathe life into them. By the end of the movie, when the world was on the brink, I found that I actually cared who won.
As a result, I'd recommend this to fans of genre and comic book movies. Otherwise, wait for it to come out on DVD or streaming.