Wednesday, 5 February 2014



Sorry to start off with yet another drone about the evils of post-conversion 3D, but this glum fantasy comicbook knockabout is the prime illustration of why pasting on stereo effects is a thuddingly bad idea. There is, yet again, not one single shot in the 2D print I watched that cries out for pointy things jabbing out of the screen at you: indeed, since the bulk of the movie takes place in an apparently permanent night or gloomily underlit gothic interiors, filtering it through the 3D polariser and then again through the glasses would most likely render whole sequences invisible in the murk. Even in the unfiltered 2D version it's seriously lacking in light as well as lightness.

Essentially I, Frankenstein is an Underworld movie, except that instead of vampires fighting werewolves it's demons fighting gargoyles, and instead of Kate Beckinsale in tight black rubber you get Aaron Eckhart covered in scar make-up. Diverging from the end of the original Mary Shelley novel (she's not credited but she is included in the Special Thanks crawl at the end), mad scientist Victor Frankenstein dies on the ice but his Monster survives and takes the body back home, whereupon he is set upon by demons. He sends them back to Hell, and spends the next two hundred years hiding out in the remotest parts of the world. But when he returns to the civilised world, demon prince Naberius is planning to reanimate millions of stored human corpses with demon souls and take over the world, and only Frankenstein's monster, a comely scientist, and the few remaining Gargoyles can stop him....

This is nonsense, though it is occasionally spectacular nonsense if you're in the mood for a screen full of whizzy CGI monsters flying about and exploding, which I have to confess I was. Highlights include the typically enjoyable villainy from Bill Nighy, from the Underworld movies, as the King Of The Vampires Demons, Miranda Otto introducing herself as Leonore, Sacred Queen Of The Order Of The Gargoyles (a line no actress should even be called upon to utter with a straight face), Yvonne Strahovski doing her best Rosamund Pike as the attractive scientist. But it's still no fun, it's too dark, and it makes no sense - for one, why do the Gargoyle hordes chain The Monster up in a room with an easily demolished wooden door when they've got a vast secret basement vault made of concrete?

It's not any good, and it has no sense of humour, but it's not abominable. It's only 92 minutes long and mostly rattles along quickly and painlessly enough. Yes, "not terrible" and "it doesn't hurt" are scarcely recommendations - not hurting and not being terrible should be the minimum default position - but I'll gladly take humourless CGI monster silliness over found-footage camcorder tedium or anything that starts with a bunch of teenage idiots on a road trip. Sadly "not awful" is as much as can hope for these days. Oh, and they're not even gargoyles - they're grotesques.


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