RATING: 1 star (out of 4)
I, Frankenstein? More like Oy, Frankenstein.
If you’ve seen so much as a five-second blip of a trailer for the movie, you just knew how stupid it was going to be. As far as action movies go, especially fantasy action movies with terrible CGI, stupid is fine, and very much expected. As long as the awfulness is shoveled up in an entertaining way, with some memorable battles and some so cheesy they’re Van Damme-level awesome catch phrases, this movie would be good to go.
But alas, the shoveling is dull and painful, the battles are forgettable and the catch phrases, while Van Damme-level awesome, are just embarrassing. When a scientist dissolves his face and shouts “I am a demon prince!” it’s reminiscent of Lisa Simpson’s “I am the Lizard Queen!”
So about those demons. They are but one faction that the hero, who has three names and is played badly by Aaron Eckhart, must contend with. He is called Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Monster and, most bizarrely, Adam interchangeably, bringing to mind the Diddy/P.Diddy/Puff Daddy rotation of the 1990s. Anyway, the demons want to catch Frankenwhatever so they can clone his design to create an army of Frankend*cks who will annihilate humanity. Humans want to buddy up with Frankenwhatever so he can help them with their ego-boosting science project of dead corpse reanimation.
And then there is the third, and funniest group of all, is the gargoyles. Yes, gargoyles. They are British-accented angels who transform into poorly animated statues of winged beasts, then back into human-looking angels when humans are not looking, Toy Story style. The gargoyles want to kill Frankenwhatever because they think he is a threat to humanity, whom they are sworn to protect despite their tendency to accidentally slaughter innocent people while trying to protect them.
It’s one massive clusterfrank, and all Frankenwhatever wants is to rip off his shirt to show off his rippling, scar-ridden abs and pine for a girlfriend Dr. Frankenstein promised to build him but never got around to doing. Frankenwhatever is angry at his “dad” for this, but is somewhat responsible for the broken promise, since he ‘roid-raged and killed his daughter before leading him to his death 200-something years ago.
Frankenwhatever has used his 200-something years wisely, wearing out 7-Minute Abs VHS tapes and ascending Tibetan mountaintops to hone his ninjitsu skills. This Frankwhatever is much more limber than he was in the 1930s movies and Universal Studios. He leaps into the air to slash demons and gargoyles, escapes traps like Houdini and still finds time to stare gloomily off into space to whine about his immortality. It’s easy to identify with his sadness, because his indestructibility means nothing is ever at stake since he can’t die. That’s not the case for his enemies, who are flesh balloons that pop with the slightest shuriken stab.
Again and again, Frankenwhatever blows off the influences of the factions that struggle for control of him, insisting he’s out for himself. The movie could have been saved if only Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life — the song with a line that is oft-misheard as “Like Frankenstein I did it my way!” — was part of the soundtrack.
But there is no saving this inanimate, lifeless husk, which like its hero, cannot be killed so it must surely be locked away before it does any more harm.
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy and Caitlin Stasey. Written by Stuart Beattie and Kevin Grevioux, based on characters by Mary Shelley. Directed by Beattie. Rated PG-13. 93 minutes.