Review: I, Frankenstein (2014)
Director: Stuart Beattie
Screenwriter: Stuart Beattie
Based on I, Frankenstein, a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Socratis Otto, Bill Nighy, Jai Courtney, Aden Young & Kevin Grevioux
Runtime: 92 min // Certificate: 12a
“Error one, right: Frankenstein is the name of the creator, not the monster”, as Alan Partridge once said… and oh for this inexcusable semantic cock-up to be I, Frankenstein’s only problem! A strong contender for “worst film of the year / worst film ever made”, Stuart Beattie’s follow-up to his directorial debut Tomorrow, When the War Began is, in the spirit of the monster after whom it is inaccurately named, a brash, brainless mish-mash of lots of different elements – none of which even work on their own, never mind in tandem with one another – that is so catastrophic one has to wonder if it’s not all just one big joke that’s gone terribly wrong.
Based on a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, the film begins with a deplorable bastardisation of the events of Mary Shelley’s classic novel and just gets worse from there. Like a cheaper, nastier, shittier version of Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing – which, let’s face it, is abysmal enough as it is – combined with all the worst elements of the Underworld quadrilogy, I, Frankenstein is, much like its central character, an altogether soulless creation that plunders material from lots of other sources, cobbles it all together in a manner that is excruciatingly po-faced and then, perhaps in an attempt to make us feel like we’ve lived through each miserable moment of the monster’s 200+ years on this planet, sets out to tell the most inept, tedious and wholly insipid version of the Frankenstein tale to date.
To be fair, in the film’s defence, at least it wasn’t a disappointment… You see, as soon as the name Stuart Beattie emerged from beneath the darkness of the title screen like an erupting bubo I knew exactly what I was in for. As one of the writers responsible for the interminable Pirates of the Caribbean saga, Beattie has, since the turn of the millennium, wilfully and shamelessly presided over the demolition of the classic, intellectual blockbuster, though I have to admit that I, Frankenstein somehow marks an all new low in his relentless bid to insult the intelligence of his audience at any given opportunity. With seemingly no care whatsoever for plot, character development or purpose, Beattie drags the viewer through just under 90 minutes (though believe me, it feels much longer than that) of obnoxious, senseless and gaudy trash before spitting them out at the end with fuck all to show for their torment, except perhaps a dull migraine.
The tragedy of course is that the basic concept – that Frankenstein’s monster is still alive, and that he lives amongst us – is one that is positively overflowing with possibilities. There are so many different angles from which one could approach such an idea yet Beattie, in all his cynical, cash-hungry wisdom, ignores all of them in favour of the safest, lamest plot imaginable (though fair’s fair, Kevin Grevioux has to take a lot of the blame for that) and a collection of truly bland, ugly action sequences that look like they’ve fallen straight out of a low-budget episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, albeit without a modicum of that particular show’s kitschy charm.
However, all of this pales in comparison to the criminal waste of on-screen talent. The script might be atrocious (not to mention inconsistent; the character is actually referred to as “Frankenstein”, rather than “Frankenstein’s monster” or his bizarre pseudonym “Adam”, on multiple occasions) but the stars don’t even bother trying to breathe life into the proceedings, though perhaps that’s because there isn’t any point. Eckhart is as lifeless as his character while Bill Nighy’s pantomime villain is either his worst performance to date or it’s a subtle and brilliant deconstruction of the emptiness of the film itself. Alas, I just can’t give Nighy the benefit of the doubt on that one…
I simply have nothing positive to say about this one. Everything that can fail does and, worse still, it does so in the most predictable, dreary manner possible. Beattie refuses to take any risks, meaning that you can’t even enjoy the film on a “so bad it’s good” level. I won’t waste any more time moaning about it because it just ain’t worth it but let’s just say this; if you’re worried about the impending energy crisis, I’m sure we could plug Mary Shelley’s grave into the National Grid and power the entire planet for the rest of time, such will be the extent of her furious spinning.
In conclusion; it’s just intolerable in every way. Avoid.