Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein's monster in a scene from 'I, Frankenstein'
"I, Frankenstein" opens in the year 1793, after Victor Frankenstein dies while going after the very monster of his creation who killed Mrs. Frankenstein in a fit of passionate rage.
The Frankenstein monster's (Aaron Eckhart) unique state of being an invincible being without a soul makes him target for the Demons and their leader Naberius, who plans to conquer the world with many more such powerful reanimated humans.
On the other hand, the Demons' nemeses, the Gargoyles, under their Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto), aim to foil this diabolical plan of world domination by protecting Frankenstein's monster, whom she has baptized with the name Adam, and Dr. Frankenstein's journal where he wrote his reanimation process in great detail.
Two hundred years later, in the present time, Naberius, in his human form Charles Wessex (Bill Nighy), employs renowned human electro-physiologist Dr. Terra Ward (Yvonne Strahovski), to assist him in carrying out his nefarious scheme of demonic world domination.
This graphic novel-turned-film is another one of those fantasies where good creatures battle with evil creatures who are out to control the world. This novel's author Kevin Grevioux also writes the script of this film. You can expect similarities with "Underworld," which was also written by Grevioux, who himself appears in an acting role as the burly head of security of Wessex.
The Demons are obviously evil the way they looked onscreen. The Gargoyles may look attractive in their usual form but when they are in their winged form, they turn into stone-faced, flying, well, gargoyles. It is just strange and atypical that supposedly good beings will take on an ugly sinister look.
Eckhart and his characteristically strong cleft chin makes a good athletic yet stoic Adam. He did not have to express a whole lot of emotion except angst and rage. He was not made to look like the grotesque monster as how Robert de Niro looked in Kenneth Branagh's "Frankenstein" film based on Mary Shelley's book. Eckhart's "monster" is just one buff and brawny guy with big scars over his face and body.
Nighy does not do anything spectacular as Wessex, just the typical British bad guy. His CG Demon form is unfortunately not as grandly demonic as you would expect for the head of the Demons. His minions had stronger-looking demon forms than Naberius had.
Otto plays the regal Leonore as well as she could, though her role does not really demand too much of her. The young, beautiful and svelte Strahovski would not really be the way you'd imagine "an eminent electro-physiologist" to look like. But hey, this is a graphic novel, so fan boys need a pretty face to make them happy.
Overall, this is just one shallow, cartoonish, popcorn flick. It will be entertaining for those who do not expect too much. I did enjoy the "arnis"-inspired fight between Adam and a demon using metal "sticks." That was the best fight sequence in the whole film.
Its messages of sacred duty, higher purpose and good vs. evil, with common-looking CGI effects, may have already been seen too many times in various dark fantasy films in recent years. The way they ended this film, it seems to be hoping for a sequel. I am not sure it will get one. 5/10
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."