Out to lurch: Aaron Eckhart in I, Frankenstein

by Mark Burger

Like its main character, played by a buff and stone-faced Aaron Eckhart, I, Frankenstein is something of a patchwork job. Adapted from Kevin Grevioux’s graphic novel by the author and director Stuart Beattie, this bombastic regurgitation of the classic Mary Shelley novel is heavy on noise and CGI pyrotechnics, but light on just about everything else.

Eckhart plays the Frankenstein monster, here called “Adam,” and he’s none too thrilled about being ageless, deathless and soulless. He wanders the planet, knowing he belongs neither among the living nor the dead. His existential dilemma, such as it is, is interrupted when he is swept up in an ongoing conflict between the “Gargoyle Order” and a legion of demonic hell-spawn, a conflict that takes up much of the film’s running time.

I, Frankenstein is not without its amusing moments (most of them unintentional), but soon descends into lumbering repetition. Much of the action takes place in an apparently contemporary city filled with Gothic cathedrals, towering edifices, underground laboratories, and evidently very few human inhabitants — aside from Yvonne Strahovski’s leggy scientist.

There’s much talk — too much, actually — that this holy (or unholy) war could eradicate humanity, but it appears that the gargoyles and demons already out number the human population. Battles take place on curiously empty streets, and no one seems unduly concerned about the rampant destruction that occurs throughout the film.

Eckhart’s monster is certainly among the more agile in the character’s long screen history — repeatedly diving through windows and executing martial-arts moves — and he’s positively chatty when compared to other Frankenstein monsters, including his grizzled narration.

There’s not much for the actors to work with, although Bill Nighy as the demon lord Naberius and Miranda Otto as gargoyle monarch Queen Leonore deliver their ludicrous dialogue with straight faces and even some semblance of flair and conviction. Nighy in particular tickles every syllable of every word with relish. Nighy and Otto are much better than the material and they remain fun, even when I, Frankenstein staggers into stagnation. !

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