Mary Shelley must have turned over in her grave by now. Even though I, Frankenstein, a graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux, is loosely based on her seminal work, the tale feels more like that of the Wandering Jew waiting for an apocalypse to happen. The end of days is coming sooner than later for the studios involved because this movie is seeing low box office returns. As for why, perhaps it’s because of the constant delays it faced getting to cinemas.
This movie may have fared better if it was released on the date it was originally scheduled for, Feb 22, 2013. When studios are still betting on 3D and IMAX for added pocket-money, that’s a sign that they do not care as much for what the fans want. Their desire for dollars will spell doom for the studio system way of making films. 3D conversion should get ditched and IMAX only offered for those movies—namely the documentaries—that deserve it.
In a movie that is about the ultimate fate of humanity, perhaps the real destiny to achieve is to choose wisely in what films are worth turning into box office dollars. I, Frankenstein is too niche. Sexy vampires are far more attractive than beefcake warriors when it comes to on-screen interest. And to hope that fans of the Underworld quadrilogy will flock to this film was more of a gamble than anything else. Tastes change faster than the wind.
When this film’s execution is all over the place, the plot gets missed. The idea of Frankenstein’s Monster, Adam (Aaron Eckhart) stumbling into an eternal war over humanity’s future is nothing new. He has to choose a side and that will ultimately decide if his spirit is truly good or evil. While this film tries to decide if he truly is a Modern Prometheus, a hero for humanity, that idea does not get pushed until the wrong moment. Had that idea been present at the start, that would have helped make for a stronger film.
And the delay to give the very attractive Yvonne Strahovski a platform film to launch her movie career is going to be more difficult. She’s wonderful as a super spy in NBC’s Chuck. She had complex familial issues to resolve. Her character in I, Frankenstein, just did not have enough substance for this actress to work with. Terra Wade is simply a scientist looking for a way to reanimate the dead, and her all but fleeting attraction to Adam just does not get developed. Even Bill Nighy’s role could be better if the demon-prince, Naberius, only had more dimension. Davy Jones must be having fits by now, because that’s this actor’s best villainous performance to date.
Although this movie attempts to play with the themes, motifs and symbolism in the novel, it sadly does not go far enough to explore it. The fact that occult knowledge is dangerous is missed. And for visual effects artists, the meaning behind what fire and light represents is ignored. They are used more as referential material as to where souls go to when they die. Had it have been given a deeper allegorical meaning, then viewers might have some food for thought after leaving the theatre. Interestingly, throughout the film, Adam often wonders if he has a soul. He does not care for anyone but himself. Sadly this spiritual subtext does not get explored fully. Had that have been done, then this movie would have had some substance for viewers to leave with as food for thought, much like how Shelley’s novel worked.
The only purpose I, Frankenstein serves is to give audiences a visual thrill-fest than a deep story. When most comic book films hardly ever expand upon the source material, no amount of tinkering can save a movie. Sometimes these genre projects are better off being delegated straight to video than wasted on a big screen. That’s where these midnight movie madness popcorn flicks really belong.
2 out of 5