UNDENIABLY ENGAGING LEADS, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE THIS MONSTER COME ALIVE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: D+ (2 stars)
20TH CENTURY FOX
Daniel Radcliffe (left) and James McAvoy (right) as Igor and Victor Frankenstein
Frankenstein is definitely a character that manages to keep showing up in cinema, from the classic Universal monster movie to Kenneth Branagh’s attempt on adapting Mary Shelley’s chilling classic novel, and even Tim Burton doing his own take on the story in his film, Frankenweenie. Even non-Frankenstein related movies like Marvel’s Hulk movies pay homage to the classic monster and making it their own, it seems like after several ups and downs, this monster will never truly die.
In comes this latest re-imagining of the story, Victor Frankenstein, under direction by Paul McGuigan (The Acid House, Gangster No. 1, Push), whom of which is recently known for directing two episodes of the TV series, Sherlock, and starring James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past) as the title character and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, December Boys) as his right-hand hunchback, Igor. When I first saw the trailer for this, I honestly didn’t know what to think of it, it looked better than I, Frankenstein, but how could it be on par with the Universal classic or even Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie for that matter.
And once I finally saw it…I was totally right, not that it was the worst take on Frankenstein (No, that still goes to I, Frankenstein!) but it was surprisingly lacking in monster terror, creativity, or even a clever take on a story we’ve heard several times before. I’ll give I, Frankenstein credit for attempting to do something different from the original Frankenstein story, even though it didn’t work out very well in the end, but the cast and acting is definitely less laughably bad than the dialogue from that flick.
The film follows scientist, Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his equally brilliant partner, Igor (Radcliffe) sharing one goal after Victor rescued Igor from being treated like a circus animal…literally, aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research of immortality. Which leads them to breathe life back into the dead, after experimenting on a creature hybrid of other organisms’ organs and a chimpanzee exterior (Came pretty close to beginning a Dawn of the Dead Planet of the Apes joke) and finally the infamous Frankenstein monster.
Even after getting into trouble with the authorities, becoming fugitives from the law, and life or death experiences, Frankenstein and Igor are determined to complete their goal to use their scientific theories to make life from death.
Overall, Victor Frankenstein is pretty choppily put together when you really get down to it, it’s not angrily bad or anything like that, but the film feels confused on what it’s trying to be, is it trying to be a historical epic or is is trying to be a monster movie? At least I, Frankenstein tried to be a supernatural action movie take on the story, but like I said before, it didn’t work in the end.
What does stand out in the film are the two leads, James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe are both very engaging actors, McAvoy best known for portraying Young Charles Xavier in the X-Men franchise and Radcliffe obviously for Harry Potter in the critically and commercially successful Harry Potter film franchise. They both have decent chemistry together, unfortunately the script doesn’t exploit their talents, which is a shame because both are incredibly likable actors, hopefully they’ll do a better movie together in the future because I enjoy seeing both of them in movies.
Now what really didn’t work in the film was the design for the actual Frankenstein monster, SPOILER ALERT! It’s a crappy CG lifeless puppet, even Frankenweenie looked more realistic than he did, and he actually was a puppet. Frankenstein is very underwhelming in this movie, not to mention he doesn’t get very much screen time in the movie.
If you just want to see James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe together in a movie, you’ll probably find something to enjoy in Victor Frankenstein, but if you’re a die-hard fan of other Frankenstein movies, this one will unintentionally scare you away from it, or make you want to burn it with fire.