Director: Paul McGuigan.
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay . UK/USA. 1h 50m.
Frankenstein steampunk extravaganza, with more attention paid to the look and feel than the characters and plausibility.
For some reason we’re meant to feel sorry for Victor Frankenstein as he’s often the forgotten part in this tragic story cue the violins bitches. Somehow the most iconic mad scientist is apparently a distant memory?? What the fuck? Anyway this film is supposed to rekindle our love for him, illuminate his persona and resurrect his memory, except it focuses in on igor… in this instance, Igor the deformed circus clown, later to become Igor (Ratcliffe) with the brain of a medical uni student, manages to cross paths with the hard done by Victor who recognises his medical talents when they rush to the rescue of Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) the gorgeous acrobat and crush. Eventually the unloved intellectual clown is rescued from the circus and through a vile transformation turned from hunchback to gentlemen and given the identity of Igor, a useless student who’s supposed to be bunking with Victor. The two manage to reanimate some corpses and well we all know the story…
The movie draws on the modern fascination of Steampunk but then delivers on the mechanical sense of stunning visuals, detailed sets and costumes but shuffles around various ideas oh who Victor Frankenstein is without giving us the solid basis of a good story oh his character, instead it focuses in on Ratcliffs transformation I’m a romance between him and me acrobat, eventually in the latter half of the movie it remembers to chuck in a very brief scene and intro of Frankenstein’s monster and again whips us away on a different fantasy tale.
While supposedly aimed at telling the story of Victor Frankenstein there’s no attempt to take the story any further back than his student days, there’s no childhood memories or anything different from what we have seen so many times before. McAvoy plays his only character, and it’s neither new or inventive, and to be honest I’m getting sick of seeing it time and time and time again, along with this stale performance there is also Ratcliffe, who struggles to try and look like a responsible adult, something that he’s almost overcome now, but honestly two mature actors of this caliber could have done better. A small snippet from Charles Dance was quite breathtaking when compared to the two leads, who together manage to pull off a victorian Laurel and Hardy as they bounce around making medical/acting fuck ups along the way. They do work off each other in strong ways but without an independant original spark it seems clumsy.
Failing to really bring anything new to the genre the film is passable but the dark fantastic atmosphere is just that with no real dark substance, it could have been a great gothic retelling but that all got dropped for Hollywood. The other kick to the balls is the inclusion of Igor. The film is supposed to take things back to basics and yet it immediately ignored the original story where Igor didn’t exist, yet it tells the story from his perspective…
It’s flawed but manages to rescue itself by being pretty, there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense and no pay off and with the visuals being stronger than the story itself, there would have been benefits by making it shorter.
R – I Frankenstein (2014), League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), Van Helsing (2004)
L – Frankenstein Movies, Five best Victor Frankenstein Actors
5S – James Mcavoy, Daniel Radcliffe