Director: Stuart Beattie; Writers: Stuart Beattie (screenplay), Kevin Grevioux (graphic novel); Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux; Running time: 92 minutes; Certification: 12A
There have been many iterations of the Frankenstein tale over the years, ever since the monster’s cinematic inception with Boris Karloff back in 1931, but none of them have quite reached the clawing depths of Stuart Beattie’s reanimated creation. Next year comes yet another take on the story and it’s one you can count me in for as it sounds like great fun, not least due to the casting choices of James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor (actually it’s eye-gore), but, if we still needed a prerequisite for the existence of a new Frankenstein film, I, Frankenstein has provided it on a golden platter. Thank heavens we got this one out of the way first.
All joking and mockery aside, you have to ask what genuinely goes through one’s head to open a script like this and think, “Yeah, I wanna do this. I think this will really stretch me as an actor.”. I mean it’s awful. Truly awful. The dialogue is filled from start to finish with the most cliche-ridden nonsense as it feebly attempts to capture some semblance of a Lord Of The Rings-like mythological dialect, interspersed with the most patronisingly dumb lines to explain that which is already blatantly obvious – all of this while trying to invest us in a story, a new spin on the Frankenstein tale, that we just don’t care one jot about. It’s based on a graphic novel, and maybe it should have stayed there. Yet all of that pales in comparison to the most cringeworthy moment in the entire film; the vigilante-esque speech sludged out by the monster atop a roof as he vows to protect the world from demons and other assorted nasty things – a moment made all the more embarrassing when you remember Eckhart was in The Dark Knight, a vigilante film with a little more going on.
The real shame is that there are some decent names in this; Aaron Eckhart’s a good, solid actor, Miranda Otto has done some interesting work over the years, and we all know what Bill Nighy can do (though admittedly he looks less than interested in being here). Not only that, but Stuart Beattie, the Victor Frankenstein who attempted to bring this corpse of a film to life, has written some decent stuff over the years (Collateral, 30 Days Of Night). Why, therefore, is it such a mess? What’s perhaps even more surprising than the actors who took the roles is the studio who financed it. Maybe they took a gamble on knowing it would turn out terribly, but would probably make a profit thanks to the title and actors attached (which, sadly, is a distinct possibility).
There are further problems with the technical stuff; the mediocre CGI and the useless 3D, but they’re more the things to get upset about when there’s nothing else do – and believe me, it gets boring enough to start reciting all of Snow White’s dwarves or trying to spell antidisestablishmentarianisms in your head (both of which I actually did). The kicker, in the end, is that it takes itself FAR too seriously. It’s a film that, judging by that aforementioned vigilante speech, thinks it’s The Dark Knight of Frankenstein movies, when in reality it’s the Batman & Robin. And that’s being harsh on Batman & Robin. This is one of the more boring experiences you’ll ever have at the cinema; a clunky, soulless, hollow attempt at bringing a fresh spin to a classic tale. Alive it is not.