“I, Frankenstein” might be an attempt to provide a fresh spin on the Mary Shelley novel, but it is done so in a film that has too many familiar parts.
It’s a tired piece of action/fantasy that could have easily slapped “Underworld 5” on the title card, and no one would have noticed.
Aaron Eckhart plays the infamous monster, an immortal being content to be a one-man vigilante against those who try to destroy him.
But the monster, given the name Adam, finds himself caught in the middle of a struggle between gargoyles protecting the Earth and a pack of demons led by Prince Naberius (Billy Nighy) when he uncovers a plot by Naberius to use the work of Adam’s creator to build an army of indestructible demons.
If you’ve seen five minutes of any of the four “Underworld” films, or any other supernatural film involving angels and demons, then “I, Frankenstein” will feel painfully familiar. It’s just the same movie over and over, with the action sequences basically in a wash, rinse, repeat mode. It’s lazy and unimaginative.
This movie takes itself way too seriously and unleashes some of the most cheesy dialogue imaginable. There is also a major problem with this “war” going on in the middle of the streets, but there never seems to be any human characters around (with the exception of a scientist played by Yvonne Strahovski, who was clearly thrown in just to provide eye candy).
The cast gets saddled with this mess, unable to do anything about it.
Eckhart is one of the more under appreciated actors today, but his character is so flat and listless that it wastes any potential life he could offer.
Nighy looks bored in a role that should have been more showy and fun.
This is exactly the kind of film one would expect to be dumped into theaters in January, a high-concept mess that is as cold and lifeless as the weather.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Rush” (B), the Ron Howard-directed film about Formula One racing that is effectively done.
It’s not quite in the same class of Howard’s best work as “A Beautiful Mind” and “Apollo 13,” but it is still pretty good.
“Rush” takes place in 1976 and focuses on the rivalry that developed between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). Hunt was an English playboy who partied hard and was just as reckless on the track.
Lauda was a more methodical and cerebral driver whose set ways turned off most of his rivals.
It appears on the surface that the two couldn’t be more different. But both have more in common than it would seem, driven by the desire to be the top driver in the world.
It was a rivalry with many twists and turns, including a near-fatal accident that left Lauda scarred for life.
Hemsworth and Bruhl are both very good. It’s a nice turn for Hemsworth, who is best known for playing Thor, while Bruhl makes an immediate impression in his first major starring role. Lauda isn’t the most likable guy, but Bruhl makes him sympathetic, driving home how focused and determined Lauda was to prove himself on the track.
Howard makes it work with some of the best racing sequences in recent memory. The racing scenes are exhilarating, effectively capturing the sport’s intensity. Howard clearly did his homework, creating a film that should please audiences familiar with the sport and the backstory.
But you don’t have to know anything about the subject to find things to like about “Rush.” The film, driven by its leads, offers a story that anyone can relate to.
“Rush” is rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use and is available on DVD.