I, Frankenstein? Well, aren't we getting to be a monster with airs. Shouldn't that be Me Frankenstein!?

No, as played by Aaron Eckhart, this free-range lab experiment is self-aware, more articulate and contemporary. You know what that means, don't you? Old Stitchy Face wears a hoodie.

He also finds himself in the middle of a centuries-long battle between the blessed gargoyles, led by Leonore (Miranda Otto) and Gideon (Jai Courtney), her right-hand cudgel, and the demons, led by Prince Naberius (Bill Nighy, sensational as always in evil mode) and Dekar (Kevin Grevioux), his imposing enforcer.

Grevioux wrote the graphic novel on which I, Frankenstein is based. He also came up with the concept for the 2003 vampire/werewolf mash-up Underworld, in which both he and Nighy had roles.

There's lots of talk about sacred duty and souls, which apparently is gargoyle code for "let's go smash some heads."

The special effects are pretty good and the fight scenes are adequate. But the film loses steam in the fourth act when Frankincense gets all mushy over the scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) who is about to crack the reanimation puzzle.

With no clear idea how to end the movie, which has come to resemble an excessive episode of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, writer/director Stuart Beattie (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) uses an old but still effective Hollywood trick: He blows up everything on the screen to smithereens.

Except Frank. He stands on a rampart, looking into the night sky and declaring his readiness for a sequel.


I, Frankenstein ** (Out of four stars)

Directed by Stuart Beattie. With Aaron Eckhardt, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, and Jai Courtney. Distributed by Lionsgate.

Running time: 1 hour, 33 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (intense violence)

Playing at: Area theaters.EndText

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