If I had went to see this movie with my fiance on a Friday night, and we got drinks and popcorn, and I had ended up spending $35 dollars to experience I, Frankenstein; I probably would have been bitter and angry that I wasted so much time and money on it. But I saw it by myself, at 11 in the morning, I snuck in a free can of soda, and I had $5 left on a gift card; so at Regal’s “Economy” pricing, I ended up only paying $1 out-of-pocket to see this thing. Not too much risk in that investment. But did I get one dollar worth of entertainment out of I, Frankenstein…? …(hesitantly) Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaah… I guess so…
This is a modern retelling of the classic monster tale from Mary Shelley, but based specifically on a graphic novel written by someone else, and it takes place in present day… uhhh… Frankenstein City? I don’t know, they don’t really say where the film takes place… Except, instead of telling the life story of our protagonist, it’s actually about a “secret” war between gargoyles and demons, with humanity’s existence at stake, for some reason. It’s sooooooo hip and modern and Hot Topic-y that it might as well have been called iFrankenstein. And much like every other gritty, dark reimagining of a fantasy tale that’s already been told before ad nauseum, iFrankenstein takes all the little elements that we all know about the monster (brought back to life through electricity, has stronger than human strength, was put together from several pieces of bodies) and then turns the whole thing into an Evanescence concert, and removes any fragment of comedy they find in the script. Because if there’s one thing we all hate, it’s an over-the-top action movie that makes us smile. Right?
The odd part about this film is the strange approach it took to market it towards the younger generation, despite the fact that all 10 people in the theater with me were 40+ year old dudes. Adam Frankenstein (yes, his name is Adam Frankenstein… I wonder if his brother is Steve Frankenstein?) is a handsome looking man, with a chiseled face (and butt chin), played by 45-year-old teen heart-throb Aaron Eckhart (what?). He’s dark and brooding, and wears stylish demon hunting clothes. I assume most teen girls will be writing fan fiction in their bedrooms after seeing this, pretending to tame the beast for their own love, who is essentially a rotting corpse who never takes showers and probably smells exactly like you’d expect (like a 200-year-old dead body). I don’t think Adam Frankenstein uses deodorant, girls, just sayin’. Anyway, for a better example of the youth marketing of this film, I got this email from Regal Cinema last week, claiming that “THIS ISN’T YOUR DAD’S FRANKENSTEIN!”
(Teenager walks through the front door at midnight, finds Dad waiting up for him in a rocking chair in the entry room)
Dad – “Coming home late again, huh son?”
Teenager – “Yeah, I guess so.”
Dad – “What is that you’re wearing there?”
Teenager – “It’s an Armani hooded trench coat, and Calvin Klein faded slim-fit jeans. It’s what Adam Frankenstein wears when he’s hunting demons. Duhhhhhh.”
Dad – “Adam Frankenstein… ADAM FRANKENSTEIN! Ever since you saw that newfangled Adam Frankenstein movie, all you do is text your friends about gargoyle holy weapons, and practice mixed martial arts in the garage. Ya know, back when I was your age, Boris Karloff wouldn’t have been caught DEAD swinging a magic Bo Staff at CGI demons!”
Teenager – “YEAH, WELL… Boris Karloff is a dinosaur, and SO ARE YOU, DAD.”
Dad – “GO TO YOUR ROOM!”
I don’t think there’s a single intended joke in the entirety of iFrankenstein. There’s more genuine humor in Schindler’s List. This film is not without the occasional unintentionally bad comedy moment, though. A lot of the dialogue in the script is stupid to begin with, and even stupider when said aloud. In the beginning of the film, when we are introduced to the modern-day scientists who are using electrophysiology (?) to try to bring a lab rat back to life, they are yelling at each other “It’s going in cardiac arrest!” “Then double the voltage!” “But that will kill it!” “It’s already DEAAAAAAAAD!” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit. I don’t think I was supposed to, but I certainly did.
Now, I know actors are supposed to support the projects that they’re in, but for some reason the actors in iFrankenstein really decided to throw their support behind it. Aaron Eckhart was on Howard Stern last week, and he went on and on about how much he cares about the project, and how difficult he was to work with because he argued with the filmmakers about so many things, in order to make it as great as he thinks it should be. I never really thought much about Eckhart as a person outside of acting before last week, but he seemed like a mega douche after that interview. He would say things like “I don’t want to be an actor, I want to be a reactor. If you want the best performance out of me; if I’m supposed to be in the room with a desk and a pillow, there had better be an actual desk and a pillow right in front of me. Then I’ll give you a great performance.” Which is a bit weird of him to boast about, because in iFrankenstein he’s doing green screen backflips while uppercutting CGI demons until they explode into computer fireballs… At the end of the interview, he proceeded to say the film is a 12 out of 10. Talk about ridiculously overselling things. Damn.
I guess if there’s anything going for it, iFrankenstein is reasonably short. It’s about 90 minutes (less than that if you don’t count the credits). Had it gone on for two hours (which movies like this tend to do), it would be an easy candidate for worst movie of the year (already). It stayed short because, thankfully, they didn’t inject a shoehorned love story into the mix. However, there was another unintentionally funny moment when Adam Frankenstein takes off his shirt and shows off his sweaty, rippling muscles, and Yvonne Strhovski gives a look of “Damn, this 200-year-old dead guy is a hunk…!” And while I thought the film was mostly boring, at least they never went longer than a few minutes without cutting back to an action scene. I was actually surprised that I didn’t completely hate this movie with every inch of my beating heart after I saw it. It’s just kind of bad in general. But I’ve seen much worse. Maaaaaaaybe it’s worth a dollar to watch, but it’s probably not worth 90 minutes of your precious time.
4 out of 10