After countless screen incarnations, Frankenstein’s monster finally gets to be cool in the brooding, over-serious, yet still spectacularly action-packed world of “I, Frankenstein.”
But it’s not necessarily an improvement.
Produced by the same company that generated the vampires-vs.-werewolves “Underworld” series, which was also dreamed up by “I, Frankenstein” screenwriter Kevin Grevioux, this latest adaptation depicts the monster as an embittered, world-weary loner mainly interested in solitary sulking. That attitude is clearly designed to resonate with its target audience of adolescent males.
After returning from the frozen north with the body of his hated creator (a back story that’s at least half faithful to Mary Shelley’s original novel), the monster is surprised to learn he’s become a pawn in an ancient war between the angelic Gargoyles and an army of demons — with the fate of mankind at stake, of course.
The demons want him, the Gargoyles don’t want them to get him, but the monster, who’s been renamed Adam by Gargoyle queen Leonore (Miranda Otto), thumbs his nose at both sides and spends the next 200 years wandering in the wilderness until the demons track him down and force him into the fight.
It’s the modern age by that time, which means Adam (Aaron Eckhart in a wildly unlikely bit of casting) rocks a trench coat, a hoodie and tight-cut jeans while using assorted spiritually-empowered martial arts weapons to kick demon boo-tay.
The demons flame out and explode, by the way, before descending to the infernal regions whenever he smites them. Gargoyle casualties, by contrast, burst into a ray of blue light ascending to the heavens. All of which makes for some flamboyant eye candy whenever the shape-shifting good guys and bad guys clash, a definite point in the film’s favor.
It’s not quite enough to cancel out the preposterousness of the story, though. Or worse, the film’s overbearing humorlessness even when things get especially silly. As when Dr. Frankenstein’s modern-day equivalent turns out to be an attractive blonde “electro-physiologist,” or something like that, named Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) who does double-duty as a romantic interest for Adam.
You see, the dark Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy, also an “Underworld” alum), in his guise as a nattily attired billionaire, plans to reanimate a gazillion or so corpses he’s stockpiled beneath his lair and turn them into a demon horde, but he needs Adam so Terra can figure out how it’s done.
Of course, Naberius doesn’t consider the possibility that they might hear love’s sweet song.
That’s not surprising, since Terra’s a babe and the elaborately scarred Adam looks like he fell into a threshing machine. However, he’s got that brooding bad-boy thing going, though, as well as a majorly buffed-out bod. One look at him with his shirt off is enough to make Terra re-think the situation.
“You’re not that different,” says Terra.
“I’m a dozen used parts from eight different corpses,” says Adam.
Well, there’s that, but, after all, nobody’s perfect.