I, Frankenstein is an Action, Sci-Fi and Fantasy thriller that was released in January of 2014 in the United States. It was directed by Stuart Beattie as well as written by him and alongside that of Kevin Grevioux. The run time is 92 minutes and is rated PG-13. This film is accredited to that of Hopscotch Features, Lakeshore Entertainment and Lionsgate. The main actors of the film are that of Aaron Eckhart (Adam), Yvonne Strahovski (Terra), Miranda Otto (Leonore), Bill Nighy (Naberius) and many others.
The film begins with the creature (who later is named Adam by the Gargoyle Queen) carrying his creator, Frankenstein, to his family grave, who we eventually find was frozen to death. Moments into the first scene, we are introduced to the main plot of the movie in which Frankenstein is being fought over by Demons and Gargoyles. After attacked by Demons, Frankenstein is saved by the Gargoyles and he is then taken to a Cathedral in which the Gargoyle Queen resides (Leonore). The demons are in cohorts with a human doctor and her assistant to bring life back into death. She is unaware that this is the final steps in a plan the demons have been attempting for hundreds of years, in which re-animating human corpses are needed for their fallen colleagues to take over and again roam the world. We follow the story in which Adam returns after 200 years to fight back against the demons and eventually claim his soul.
Religion is a key factor in this film. We are first introduced to Adam being brought into the Gargoyle’s Cathedral, only to find out that they are the protectors sent from heaven. Even when they are killed, we are physically shown their souls ascending into the sky, in which we can assume is heaven. On the other side of the spectrum, we are faced with the demon race in which are attempting to take over the human world as their own. Opposite the Gargoyles, when they are killed, their fiery souls fall from the sky. Unfortunately Adam has found himself in between these two opposing groups of characters and because of his creator’s interest in playing “God” he is the object of desire in this film. Though we can assume that at the beginning of the Film, Adam has no soul, he does carve the three-pronged cross into his knife while he is in the woods training. This cross is representation of the Orthodox church and also of the Gargoyle order (this cross stands above their Cathedral). At the end of the film, Naberius turns full demon and carves a pentagram into Adam’s forehead, in which is denied because of the soul he has gained over time. The ending of the movie shows the demons descending back into the ground, which at this point we can deem hell.
Women’s Gender Roles
This film also touches base with two different kind of roles played by women. One of extreme power, and the other of submission. The Gargoyle Queen plays that of power, yet is the only one of her kind. She is constantly guarded by men and rarely seen fighting alongside her army. She seems motherly, and emotional, even called out by her main protector for having too much emotion which such high power. The other woman character is that of the Doctor in which the demons are using to reanimate life. When we first meet her, she seems to be dominant in her research but we find out she is submissive when it comes to the men of the movie. She doesn’t follow any of her own paths and is constantly being undermined by the men, even questioning her own abilities. We see this when Adam tells her she doesn't need her assistant to help her, but she calls to him anyways. The two types of women mirror those of the 1967 Frankenstein Created Woman and the 1971 Lady Frankenstein where women were dominant characters but tended to still be accommodating to their male counterparts. Frankenstein Created Woman is mirrored by the doctor, in which the woman may be the character acting upon the situations in the film, but because of a man’s wishes and well being. She is submissive not only to her (demon) boss, but eventually to Adam, after she meets him. The Gargoyle Queen is alongside that of Lady Frankenstein, in which a woman is in power, but still allows her emotional well-being to get in the way of her being fully powerful on her own.
This film doesn't go into the idea of creation in depth, but the times that it talks about it gives us enough relativity to its previous adaptations. We don’t find out how Adam is created until later on in the movie, but with being introduced to Frankenstein’s journal, we can assume that it is scientifically. When Dr. Terra is brought into the scene when attempting to reanimate a rat, we are shown a more modern scientific procedure in which they are attempting to create life, using electricity and machinery. After eventually reading into Frankenstein’s journal, Terra finds out that he used eels to project volts into Adams body in order to give it life. This alludes back to the creation scene in the 1994, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After Naberius gets hold of Terra and the journal, he has already collected thousands of dead bodies in which he has connected by poles and wires to the main electric current. They use the same procedures in which Frankenstein had written about and received the same result as he did with Adam, though it was ceased within moments of having possessed demon bodies roaming the world. This is also one of the first times where we physically see Adam or the creature become engulfed with a soul, after 200 years of roaming the earth without one. This though, could do with either or both the aspects of religion and/or creation.
I, Frankenstein was budgeted an estimated 65 million, but on opening weekend only grossed 8.6 million and to date has only grossed 19 million. The only nomination that it received was for Feature Film Soundtrack of the Year by the Australian Screen Sound Guild, but did not win. It was not accepted by most, receiving below average reviews, almost everywhere and by anyone who viewed it. IMDb gave it a 5.2/10, Rotten Tomatoes rated it at a 3% and Metacritic at a 30%.
Significance of Adaptation
I, Frankenstein is the most recent film adaptation in the Frankenstein “series”. Its allusions to previous adaptations help us give some insight on the character but its separate story also alludes to more of an appropriation of sorts. The film does an okay job in continuing what happened after Frankenstein and after the monster, but goes completely off track bringing in a whole new plot. Technically, as Cohen stated the monster never died, therefore this was an interesting take on that statement. Although this isn't what most people would expect in the sequencing of events, who knows, maybe this is really what happening in the scheme of Shelley’s mind. As previously stated, this film does bring forth many visualizations and factors from other adaptations in Frankenstein history. But when delving into the acknowledgement that this film accesses features like others, you must know that it is also a cover of Kevin Grevioux’s Darkstorm Studio’s graphic novel of the same name (which also produced the Underworld films; hence the religious connotations). This monster strays from the earliest of adaptations and sticks to Shelley’s description more closely, even using some of the same lines from Frankenstein’s journal. The writers then pulled a female doctor in, alluding to that of Lady Frankenstein (1971), although the character wasn't in the middle of the second sexual revolution of women and didn’t act much the same. Other parts of the film could be pulled from other adaptations, but it would be stretching the fact.
The most unique aspect of the film is that of its religious exploitation. Most adaptations of Frankenstein touch briefly on a religious feel, but this one decided to not only touch on the issue, but blatantly throw it in your face every chance it got. From literally the beginning scene to the ending one you are forced to examine a Heaven vs. Hell institution, and if you are unable to identify that, I couldn't tell you that you watched the same film.
Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy are two award winning actors who unfortunately decided to step into the roles of characters who couldn't step up to the plate. Though the acting wasn't per say lacking too much, it was the story line and plot that killed the chances of any awards. The new story line could have been interesting, but it was overkill for a majority of the movie, and felt as a knockoff of Van Helsing.
To conclude, this movie brought forth quite a few new aspects in the Frankenstein genre, while still alluding to the past adaptations. Though it fell short, it will be remembered as the one time Frankenstein tried being a hero and eventually gained a soul.