It should be obvious by now that graphic novels transfer splendidly to the big screen. For years, filmmakers have treated audiences to renewed versions of a whole league of superheroes. The art-rendered panels make the perfect storyboard, the design feature that lays the ground work for a movie’s all-important “look” and tone. When things are done well, the film reaches both the aficionados of the initial graphic novel, as well as everybody else.
“I, Frankenstein” began its life as a graphic novel by Kenvin Grevioux. I’m not sure what’s lost in translation from the page to the big screen, but as a movie attempting to reach “everybody else,” “I, Frankenstein” is a dead yawn. Total reliance on special effects to sensationalize a film might have worked ten years ago, but audiences want more now. We want a story along with a big dose of 3D spectacle.
It picks up where Mary Shelley’s world classic Frankenstein leaves off. The monster (Aaron Eckhart) has murdered Mrs. Frankenstein to even the score with his “father” Frankenstein (Aden Young) for giving him life without a soul. Seeking revenge, Frankenstein sets out on a mad journey to track down his monster. Not being a very good planner, he freezes to death in the snow.
The monster finds his body and is in the midst of giving him a proper Christian burial when a battalion of demons descend on him. Led by Naberius (Bill Nighy), the worst devil of them all, the demons have all the trappings that demons should have: grotesque faces, scales, and giant wings attached to gray bodies. Part of the problem lies in the elemental nature of the plot. Based on archetypes of good and evil, all of the one dimensional characters become tiresome. Even good acting can’t save them.
Unbeknownst to the humans on the planet, a cosmic battle rages between the evil demons and the gargoyles, protectors of the light and goodness. Unfortunately, the gargoyles look, well, like gargoyles, many of whom look a lot like demons.
When the demons are destroyed they descend into hell; gargoyles go the other direction. Leonore (Miranda Otto), the gargoyle queen sees something human behind the monster’s dead eyes, so she names him “Adam,” and takes him in.
A dastardly plot to eradicate humankind is uncovered, Adam chooses sides, and great swarms of mythical being swarm the sky, but nobody cares.
Rated PG -13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout.
Marilyn Robitaille has been writing film reviews for the Empire-Tribune since 1998.