Directed by Paul McGuigan. Starring James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Freddie Fox, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Jessica Brown Findlay
THE PLOT: Told from the perspective of former circus freak turned assistant Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), this take on Mary Shelley’s classic tale sees Frankenstein’s experiments to create life from death thwarted by the investigations of a suspicious and moral police officer, and Frankenstein’s disapproving father.
THE VERDICT: Another year, and it seems it is time for another movie based on Mary Shelley’s gothic horror novel. This time, the story seems to only have taken inspiration from Shelley’s book, as Igor has been introduced, and the initial creation of Frankenstein’s monster is the focus of the film.
James McAvoy seems to have a great time in the title role as Victor Frankenstein; he shouts and runs, spits and raises all kinds of hell on screen. This kind of hammy, over the top performance would be fine if the rest of the film was as manic as McAvoy, but it seems that he is out on his own here. Daniel Radcliffe further distances himself from the role that made him famous, and loses some more of his recognisable tics along the way, giving a strong performance as Igor, the moral heart and compass of the film. Radcliffe’s physicality is particularly good, although his character’s mind seems as changeable as the weather in the film. The rest of the cast features Charles Dance, Louise Brealey, Jessica Brown Findlay, Freddie Fox and Mark Gatiss. Since this is a story of Frankenstein and his assistant, not many of the cast have much to do, with the exception of Andrew Scott who plays a religious man obsessed with ending Frankenstein’s work “of Satan”.
Max Landis’ screenplay borrows lightly from the source material of the film, and adds in a story involving Frankenstein’s brother, a benefactor, a first experiment gone wrong and a police officer obsessed with finding out just what Frankenstein is up to, and putting an end to it… ‘cos his wife died… Or something. The trouble with the screenplay is just as a character establishes themselves as behaving one way, they quickly change their mind, get dragged off course or have a sudden revelation that leaves the audience consistently off kilter. As well as this, the final set piece is so bonkers, so over the top and filled with so many character changing their minds that the audience simply loses interest along the way.
Director Paul McGuigan has great fun with the first hour of the film, establishing relationships, Victorian London and the general feel of the film, but once we cross into the second hour everything becomes messy, manic and disconnected, with a final set piece that feels as though it doesn’t really matter, and a twist that was obvious throughout the entire affair. Still, the film looks good, but has very little going on under the surface.
In all, ‘Victor Frankenstein’ really brings nothing new to the tale of Frankenstein and his obsessions. Or rather, it does, but it is not anything that was needed, is engaging or is in any way satisfying. The film looks good and Daniel Radcliffe tries his damnedest but there comes a point when this entire affair is familiar, unengaging and rather silly, but not in a good way.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Victor Frankenstein
Review by Brogen Hayes
2.0familiar & silly
  • filmbuff2011

    Oh dear. Poor Mary Shelley must be spinning in her grave. The 19th Century teenager’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, has been mutilated yet again. Whereas her novel is a thought-provoking discussion of man playing God and creating an intelligent creature (not monster) which is then cast out into an unforgiving and hostile world, Hollywood keeps plundering time and again it to pointless effect. This time, it’s called Victor Frankenstein. As we’re told in the opening sequence, you know this story… but not quite from this perspective. The perspective being from Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), Victor Frankenstein’s faithful servant. Igor is a hunchback working as a circus clown who happens upon Victor (James McAvoy), a driven scientist who is surprised by Igor’s knowledge of the human anatomy. Victor takes him under his wing, moving him from his oppressed environment to the laboratory, where he can aid Victor in his scientific endeavours. Those being that Victor is trying to create life from dead matter. He’s been plundering dead animal bodies across London to create a monkey-type animal. Hot on his trail is Inspector Turpin (Andrew Scott), who believes it is his moral right, not legal right, to stop Victor in his tracks before he angers the Almighty. The experiment with the monkey creature doesn’t go so well, so Igor observes Victor’s descent into madness as he tries to tempt fate itself and re-animate a dead human body… There’s no kind way to put it – Victor Frankenstein is an abomination. It’s a patchwork of better films hastily assembled, given a CGI sheen (which looks cheap and synthetic) and cast out into a presumably indifferent world. There’s not much to like about this film. The whole idea of basing it around Igor’s perspective is just lazy screenwriting 101. Blame screenwriter Max Landis for trying something different and coming up with zero. Igor was created for the classic 1931 Boris Karloff film, but in this reviewer’s mind he exists more in the persona of Marty Feldman in the hilarious Young Frankenstein (it’s pronounced Eye-Gor). Landis and director Paul McGuigan quickly do away with the whole hunchback idea in the first 15 minutes, so what makes Igor different or unique this time? Nothing really. Radcliffe seems lost here, struggling to give his character some sense of meaning and purpose. It’s a clear case of miscasting. Maybe Peter Dinklage would have been a better option. McAvoy doesn’t fare much better, failing to capture the mad cackles of Colin Clive, the offbeat kookiness of Gene Wilder or even the scarred nobility of Kenneth Branagh. When we finally do get to the creation scene and meet the ‘monster’, he looks like a rejected Ben Grimm design for Fantastic Four. This film is just so inept, poorly acted, dubiously scripted and feels no shame in trampling all over Shelley’s book. It’s not quite as bad as I, Frankenstein but it’s pretty close. Horrific in every sense of the word. *