The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein is like the worst piece of Mary Shelley fan fiction written by the guy behind the counter at your local Hot Topic. It should give hope to writers of bad fan fiction everywhere. You might someday be able to sell your inane drivel to Hollywood, where it will be turned into an expensive, yet somehow still cheap-looking, mess that wastes the talents of several good actors!

Aaron Eckhart plays Frankenstein's creature, Adam. (That's right – Adam Frankenstein.) A prologue informs us that he murdered his creator in a fit of rage. Several centuries later, Adam finds himself in the middle of a long-standing war between gargoyles and demons. The good gargoyles are led by queen Leonore (Miranda Otto), while the demons are guided by Naberius (Bill Nighy), who is currently disguised in human form. He intends to raise an army of corpses to take over the world, but first he needs to know how to reanimate them. That means finding Adam so he can discover Dr. Frankenstein's secret. Naberius employs a scientist named Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) to study reanimation for him. She becomes key to locating Adam.

Of the many grievous errors committed by I, Frankenstein, perhaps the worst is making the main character the least interesting person in the whole movie. The story tries to address the fact that Adam wasn't created by God and therefore has no soul, giving him a unique place in this world. However, instead of showing us his attempts to explore or deal with this distinction, the film simply has him – and other characters – talk about it. Having Adam bellow lines such as “I am like no other!” is about as deep as it gets. There's also something weird about having Frankenstein's creature look like buff Aaron Eckhart. It seems that a big part of the enduring appeal of the character is that he resembles a human, but doesn't quite fit the bill. That gives him a sense of menace, while also earning a touch of our empathy. Making him look like a regular, albeit badly scarred guy really isn't very interesting.

Visually, I, Frankenstein has the dark, gloomy goth look of those Underworld pictures, which is no surprise, as this film shares the same producers. There are plenty of CGI demons and gargoyle people on display, along with crumbly buildings, menacingly cloudy skies, and shadows upon shadows. While it clearly cost a lot for these effects, they're uniformly unimpressive. Very little thought appeared to go into them; instead, the images are mere rehashes of things we've seen before. The best horror/fantasy films create worlds that feel new and fresh, that make us eager to explore their tiniest corners. In this case, the decor could best be described as “Generic Goth.” At times, things we see are laughable. For instance, when Naberius attempts to reanimate his tens of thousands of corpses, we see that each one has a digital display to show what percentage of their reanimation is complete. Try not to think of a Windows update screen when you see it.

I, Frankenstein is a great example of what I call a “nothing movie.” This term applies to films that play more like a series of random images flickering in front of you than an actual story. You don't feel like you're actually seeing a coherent product when you watch a “nothing movie,” and you often forget them by the time you've reached the parking lot. That's how thin they are. With a running time of just 85 minutes (minus end credits), you can't help but wonder if there was once more to I, Frankenstein. Details that seem important are glossed over, and the plot often jumps from one thing to the next without much rhyme or reason. The whole film has the air of having been chopped to pieces following a few bad focus group screenings. Whether or not that's true, I cannot say, but what's up on the screen is certainly uninspired, vacuous, and dull. I, Frankenstein is a colossal misfire.

( out of four)

I, Frankenstein is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.

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