Let’s face it: graphic novels are just comic books that take themselves VERY seriously. And like the plethora of self-important graphic novels that have come to the big screen (“300,” “The Road to Perdition,” “Sin City” to name a few), “I, Frankenstein” is a little on the pompous side. That’s not to say there aren’t a few laughable moments, just that they are unintentional.
“I, Frankenstein” begins where the original Mary Shelley novel left off: Victor Frankenstein has died of exposure in the frozen wastes of the Arctic pursuing the monster he has created, the fiendish murderer of his bride. But in “I, Frankenstein,” the creature brings Frankenstein’s body back to the family plot to bury him, where he is attacked by demons, and defended by gargoyles (sent from Heaven to protect the world from demons), thus embroiling himself in a spiritual and physical war of good versus evil. He rejects the gargoyles’ offer of shelter and lives the next 200 years on his own. But the demons are apparently tracking him, feeling that his soulless body can aid their effort.
Aaron Eckhart (“Olympus Has Fallen”) plays the creature, his voice rasping like Batman—in fact the character in many ways psychologically resembles the Dark Knight. Miranda Otto (“The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King”) portrays Leonore, the noble queen of the gargoyles. Jay Courtney (“Jack Reacher”) is Gideon, Leonore’s bloodthirsty second in command. The inimitable Bill Nighy (“Total Recall”) plays Naberius, the prince of the demons disguised as a filthy rich philanthropic businessman. Yvonne Strahovski (TV’s “Dexter”) portrays a geneticist whose work is funded by Naberius but whose heart goes out to Frankenstein’s creature.
The entire cast pursues its task stonily: not one joke is delivered, not a single double entendre appears; in fact, I can’t recall seeing any cast member even so much as smiling. This is a monotonously grim movie with shaded Old World sets and dark costumes. The make-up is something out of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Still, there is something embarrassingly enjoyable about “I, Frankenstein.” I know what it is: the movie is short. Clocking in at a mere 92 minutes, it was over before you could gather that the sophomoric script was going nowhere. Of course the characters are one dimensional (we are told the gargoyles are good and the demons are bad, so there is no need to elaborate on that, right?)—there isn’t time for any development
“I, Frankenstein” has an intriguing premise, terrific special effects, epic battles, lousy make-up, and a bad script. If you like graphic novels, you might want to hurry and see this clunker as it probably won’t last more than two weeks.