There should be prizes given out to anyone who is able to keep track of what’s going on and who’s who and why exactly they’re doing something at any given moment in this monumentally daft fantasy actioner from the director of Tomorrow, When the World Began. Some of the sets look pretty nice and erm, all the credits appeared to be spelt correctly but you’d have to really want to love the film to find much more of value here.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the film starts in 1795 when we see the mad Dr. Frankenstein cobbling together a body taken from several others to make his reanimated monster (Aaron Eckhart). Furious at his creator for then rejecting him, the monster kills Frankenstein’s wife causing the doctor to chase him down in vengeance but he ultimately freezes to death along the way as a result of the extreme weather conditions.
The monster soon realises he is being hunted by both a group of demons headed by Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy) and an ancient order of Gargoyles led by Queen Leonore (Miranda Otto). Taken in by the latter and renamed Adam, he learns of the centuries old battle that’s being going on between the forces of heaven and hell. Cut to 200-odd years later and we find Adam hunting the demons and trying to stop Naberius, now in the form of a suspect businessman, from destroying mankind with the use of a reanimated army.
This blatant franchise wannabe is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds, woefully lacking in a coherent script or even a sense of its own internal logic; for instance, it starts off by referring to the titular character correctly as “Frankenstein’s monster” before abandoning that half way through and just referring to him as Frankenstein because, well, it’s easier (I suppose). Although he’s been responsible for writing some lacklustre material like Derailed and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, writer Stuart Beattie has in the past delivered some quality work like Collateral and 30 Days of Night. But he doesn’t seem to have a handle on the material here, either as a writer or a director, and it comes off as a complete mess of ideas and execution thereof.
The film doesn’t even work on a basic, “leave your brain at the door” dumb blockbuster movie way. When it’s not explaining its utterly ridiculous, incoherent twaddle that is its mythology, it’s doing its best to bore you into submission with action that’s badly choreographed, overly reliant on dodgy CGI and, worst of all, terminally dull, with much of it annoyingly obscured by shadows and what seems like perpetual fire as demons are dispatched as quickly as you get a glimpse of them on-screen.
Aaron Eckhart, who in the past has delivered powerful performances and displayed tons of charisma, is terrible though to be fair he is extremely ill-served by a one-dimensional portrayal of the legendary character that is Frankenstein’s monster in name only – Boris Karloff would be turning in his grave. And he, along with other talented actors like Nighy (in a paycheque role if ever there was one), Yvonne Strahovski (best known from TV’s Dexter and Chuck) and Otto, are saddled with having to deliver some of the worst, most laughable and inane dialogue to appear in a Hollywood blockbuster in quite some time.
This staggeringly inept hodgepodge of ideas lifted straight from the likes of Underworld, Constantine, Legion, Van Helsing and Daybreakers, to name but a few – making those movies seem like masterpieces in comparison – is as boring as it is preposterous. If we get a worse blockbuster in the rest of the year we will be very unlucky moviegoers indeed.