How do you take a story that’s nearly two centuries old and make it fresh? Screenwriter/Director Stuart Beattie took inspiration from Kevin Grevioux’s epic graphic novel of the same name. (Grevioux also appears in the film as Dekar, Naberius’ right-hand man.) I, Frankenstein begins with a flashback to the creation of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, who has no soul, but who does have a conscience.
When the creature (Aaron Eckhart) buries his creator, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, in the family cemetery, he is attacked by demons. In the ensuing fight, the monster is saved by the intervention of the gargoyles. For his protection, the gargoyles take the creature to a Cathedral where the Gargoyle Order gathers. Leonore, Queen of the Gargoyles, (Miranda Otto) names the creature Adam and explains the Gargoyle Order has Dr. Frankenstein’s journal for safekeeping. Adam then learns of the ancient war between the gargoyles (created by the Archangel Michael to battle demons on Earth and protect humanity) and the demons, who are under the command of the Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy). She also invites Adam to join the gargoyles in the war to save mankind. Adam prefers his isolated life and departs with weapons marked with the symbol of the Gargoyle Order that can descend demons back to Hell.
Spoiler Alert! (Skip the next three paragraphs if you have not seen the movie.)
Over the next two centuries, Adam fends off the demons that pursue him, until the Gargoyles summon Adam to be punished for the death of the human, but a much more serious problem has arisen.
It seems demons can only inhabit bodies without souls, such as those of the departed–and Adam’s. With Frankenstein’s journal, Naberius (now disguised as billionaire Charles Wessex) and the demons hope to re-animate thousands of corpses, and unleash an army of demons upon the world. The demons could conquer the Gargoyle Order and enslave mankind. A scientist named Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) is researching a process to create life while Naberius is seeking Dr. Frankenstein’s journal to help Terra and raise his army.
I won’t divulge the end of the movie, except to say the filmmakers have breathed new life into a centuries-old character. Interestingly, Adam (the monster) was designed to look fit and strong, with only his many scars to indicate his true origin. By joining the fight, Adam transforms from monster to savior. The reversal of roles is an old technique to generate unexpected character twists, but one that works well in this film.
As for the disc itself, I’m glad to see the 2D and 3D versions of the movie are both encoded to a single Blu-ray and the DVD is included. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix gives depth and clarity to the sometimes hectic battles and numerous effects. The picture is excellent, although most of the film is dark with lots of contrast. Occasional CGI effects look a bit unrefined, but I view I, Frankenstein more as a graphic novel brought to life. Fans of Mary Shelley’s immortal creation have a lot to appreciate in I, Frankenstein. If not for putting a fresh twist on a plot worn thin over time, then for giving the creature a reason to live into another century.
The Blu-ray features: 3D and 2D versions of the film in 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Stuart Beattie, Audio Commentary by filmmakers Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, James McQuade and Kevin Grevioux, “Creating a Monster” Featurette, and “Frankenstein’s Creatures” Featurette.
If you missed I, Frankenstein in theaters, (possibly due to many overly critical and mostly unwarranted reviews) I recommend fans of horror, fantasy and action films to give it a try on your home theater system. It’s fast-paced at 92 minutes, and rated PG-13 for sequences of intense fantasy action and violence throughout.