MRR Review: "I, Frankenstein"

Photo Credit: Lionsgate

Rating: PG-13
Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: January 24, 2014
Directed by: Stuart Beattie
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy / Action Adventure

"I, Frankenstein" is the tale centering on Adam Frankenstein, a superhuman creature crafted from the parts of deceased humans. As an aside, the Frankenstein monster was referred to as "Adam" in the original novel, although that moniker has not been widely used in subsequent renditions of the story, until this production. "I, Frankenstein" is based on a graphic novel.

Set in a dystopian era, "I, Frankenstein" follows Adam Frankenstein as he is injected into a battle between gargoyles and demons. Something of a hero, particularly considering the state of the ancient city in which the battles occur, Adam Frankenstein is played by Aaron Eckhart.

"I, Frankenstein" is not the first time that Eckhart is cast in a complex role in a dystopian fantasy. He master such a role in "The Dark Knight" as Harvey Dent and Two-Face. In this case, he creates a Frankenstein "monster" not seen since Robert De Niro took on the role in 1994's "Frankenstein." Despite the manner in which Adam Frankenstein was created, Eckhart follows the De Niro lead and renders the creature empathetic. Indeed, he engages in heroic actions throughout the course of the movie, as evil battles evil all around him.

When asked to describe how he viewed the character of Adam Frankenstein, Eckhart advised that he views his character as intelligent. He considers Adam Frankenstein to be evolved, if not more civilized that those who surround the creation more commonly referred to as a monster.

A compelling character in the film is that of Naberius, the leader of the demons. He is said to be one of the original angels who fell from Heaven and God's good graces during the rebellion led by Satan. Bill Nighy executes the role of Naberius with evil precision. Renowned for character roles, Nighy delivers in "I, Frankenstein," leaving a moviegoer to believe that he or she witnessed a glimpse of a satanic minion at work.

A relative newcomer to the silver screen, Jai Courtney, plays the role of the leader of the gargoyle army. Hailing from Australia, the handsome 20-something is coolly malevolent in leading his troops to battle and through a variety of harrowing scenes in the film. His primary cohort, the queen of the gargoyles, is played by Miranda Otto.

Miranda Otto, christened Lenore in the film, also an Australian, cut her teeth acting in other action films. She garnered acclaim in her first major role in the feature film "What Lies Beneath," in which she starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. In "I, Frankenstein," she joins the line of cinematic evil queens in an alluring manner.

Directorial credit for the film goes to Stuart Beattie, perhaps best known for his 2007 vampire flick, "30 Days of Night." The techniques he used in "30 Days of Night" to develop edge-of-the-seat tension come to fruition in "I, Frankenstein." Beattie has a clear eye for making dark scenes resonate crisply in a moviegoer's mind.

Beattie also wrote the screenplay for "I, Frankenstein," following the plot of the original graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux closely. Indeed, because of his adherence to the graphic novel, Beattie and others associated with the film were invited to participate in the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con to present on the film. While certainly not a morality play, the screenplay does include passages that give a moviegoer reason to pause and reflect on ethics as well as the conflicts between good and evil -- and what actually constitute good and evil in a particular context.

The original score, crafted by Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil, adds to the tension and conflict in the film. The unity between individual scenes and score progression is exemplary and keeps the movie moving apace.

The film experienced some ebbs, flows and false starts regarding its release date. Originally slated for release on Feb. 22, 2013, the date was changed several times. In the process, the decision was made to digitally re-master the movie in 3D and IMAX. The decision to reconfigure the film in this matter renders it all the more visually appealing. Indeed, appreciating that the movie focuses on a good many dark elements, the visual presentation is nothing less than stunning.

Although fans of graphic novels, particularly of the dystopian genre, will find "I, Frankenstein" compelling, as will horror flick fans, the film has a wider reach. It includes everything from biblical imagery to considerations of various gradients of evil. Moreover, thanks to a rather late-in-production decision to use 3D and IMAX technology, the visuals of the presentation will be appealing to nearly any moviegoer.

Rating: 3 out of 5