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Monster Ego – A review of I, Frankenstein
Title: I, Frankenstein
Production Company: Lakeshore Entertainment
Run Time: 93 minutes
Director: Stuart Beattie
Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy
Summary: With the advent of monster films updating tales of vampires and werewolves, it was only a matter of time before Frankenstein’s monster was brought into the modern age.
Mary Shelley is rolling in her grave. Victor Frankenstein is rolling in his.
While Shelley may have created the latter, Frankie was the visionary behind the creation of a conglomerate monster that was an amalgamation of human parts. His creation lacked a soul, however, and subsequent versions have either been misunderstood abominations or incarnate monstrosities.
Aaron Eckhart’s version falls somewhere in the middle. He lives in a world where demons and gargoyles battle for supremacy and his buff physique holds the keys to the resurrection and restoration of demonic victory.
Now, the gargoyles, led by the beautiful queen Leonore, cannot allow that to happen. Since humanity lives in the balance, the gargoyle army must defend our existence from being overrun by the dark forces of demonhood.
Bill Nighy, who routinely plays evil and twisted characters, here leads the demons. To humankind, he is known as a supposedly benevolent scientific corporate bigwig. Beneath his glam exterior, however, he is an evil demonic prince who has haunted Frankenstein for decades.
The film comes from the same dark creative geniuses who brought us Underworld. And like that tale, we are destined to witness numerous battles between good and evil. Soldiers on both sides will fall.
When a gargoyle dies, he or she is turned into a magnificent beam of light projected into the heavens. Demons burst into arcs of flame and descend into the abyss.
There is hardly anything original here, though. And there is nothing unexpected in either the story or the performances. Eckhart may indeed be physically built for the part, but he is hardly leading man material. Even the hideous scar on his face is nothing unusual for him. His performance and facial renderings were far more pronounced and evocative in the thriller The Dark Knight.
Miranda Otto is wasted here as Queen Leonore. She’s a magnificent actor and her performance in Lord of the Rings as Eowyn evoked a strength and cunning that here is masked by forced regality. Her action scenes are unnecessarily cheapened by rendering her under a digital guise that gives her a decidedly less regal manifestation.
Yvonne Strahovski is mere eye candy, though, playing a doctor who seeks the knowledge of resurrection pioneered by Frankenstein all those years ago. Whether she realizes that her actions may have consequences is overshadowed by a scripted match-up between her and the monster. And based on the visuals, however, the attraction is more physical than emotional.
Nighy loves to chew the scenery and his portrayal of Naberius, the demon prince, is probably the most delightful part of this movie. His deliberate and paced performance perfectly balances the dark undertones of his character.
This is not the worst possible updating of the Shelley tale, but darker undertones of the characters and situations bears serious consideration, and, like Underworld, we’re probably due for at least two or three more sequels. Dark and brooding characters still sell well at the box office.
I give I, Frankenstein 2-1/2 out of 5 stars.