Review: Victor Frankenstein


A juvenile script and dodgy performances fail to re-animate the patchwork corpse that is ‘Victor Frankenstein’, says Peter Dunne. 


Igor, the legendary hunchbacked assistant to Dr. Frankenstein, finally takes centre stage in this ‘new twist’ on the classic tale, but like a drunk at a party who retells the same joke again and again, this rehashed story gets annoying pretty quickly.

Daniel Radcliffe, in his latest failed attempt to shake off the boy-wizard character, stars as the aforementioned put upon Igor – a circus freak abused and beaten down by the crew of the big top. When beautiful acrobat, Lorelei  (ex-Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown Findlay) is injured during a performance, Igor manages to heal her broken bones, catching the attention of Dr. Frankenstein in the process. Frankenstein, underplayed by James McEvoy, takes Igor into his care, fixing his twisted body and showing him compassion for the first time in his bleak and lonely life.

Introduced to London outside the circus, Igor blooms in a whirl of high society parties. A stop is soon put to his gallop, however, as Frankenstein’s experiments spiral dangerously into madness.

Hunted by Inspector Turpin, played by Andrew Scott, for the accidental death of a man during their escape from the circus, the pair push each other into unknown realms of dark science. When a public display in reviving the dead body of, em, Gordon the monkey, succeeds in attracting the support of psychopathic toff, Finnegan (Freddie Fox), our heroes decide to take the final step to godhood by creating a human life. Well, you can just guess how that turns out, can’t you?

There are so many wrong steps taken by all involved in this tsunami of crap that one can’t help but wonder if there was a slow gas leak on set that addled their minds. That title for instance – if you’re going to make a film about Igor and have Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role, why call it Victor Frankenstein? Not just Frankenstein but throwing in Victor as well? It’s a stupidity bordering on willful ignorance.

Let’s first deal with the accessories to the crime before getting to the ringleader – the acting of our two leads. Radcliffe tries hard but his is a performance where you can see the cogs turning. He begins the film with an impressively physical display, twisting his deformed body to such degrees you wonder how he’ll manage to keep it up for the two unending hours the film lasts for. The answer is, he doesn’t. Igor is cured of being a hunchback about ten minutes in, in a genuinely disgusting scene which succeeds in turning your stomach perfectly in synch with making you throw your eyes up to heaven. It manages to be both rotten and stupid, one of the films few rare feats. James McEvoy is so watery as a supposed ‘mad scientist’ it actually makes you question whether he was ever a good actor. It’s telling when in a role tailor made for an actor to take the reins off all he does is trot around the paddock.

But The General of this criminally bad enterprise is screenwriter Max Landis. He simply must have coasted in on the name of his legendary father, John, because if somebody in 20th Century Fox read this script fresh and thought it was acceptable, the studio is doomed. Characters speak not only as if they’re living in 2015 but as if they usually hang out at the mall. What can only be referred to as the ‘science bits’ sound as if the limit of their research was a wikipedia page, as if Landis believes the audience is dim enough to be dazzled by him sticking in a few long words. Character motivations are completely nonsensical, Igor and Victor think it’s a great idea to make a human, until it’s unholy and despicable, until it’s a great idea until it’s not and Inspector Turpin sympathises with poor Igor, announcing to his fellow policemen that the suspect must have killed in self defense if at all but then decides to hunt him for murder.

The biggest problem is that for a horror film, there is no actual horror at all, apart from the bit with Gordon the monkey and the monster at the end. Another fatal wound is when the big climax merely involves the creation of the creature, what was the point in waiting? We know that’s what happens in any Frankenstein movie so you need to give something other than ‘And then they bring a monster to life!’ which has been a foregone conclusion. The rest of the film consists of people rushing around achieving very little which makes you wonder, if it wasn’t made for horror fans or for children, who did Landis think was going to want to see this? It’s no surprise the film flopped massively in the States.

Failing to harness the electricity necessary to bring this beast to life, this is one mad scientist’s lair you’ll wish had a power cut.

Victor Frankenstein is out now!

Watch the trailer:

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