The Horror Honeys: Victor Frankenstein: Meet your fairly inaccurate makers...

Victor Frankenstein: Meet your fairly inaccurate makers...

A Monster Honey New Release Review by Sarah

Victor Frankenstein (2015)

"Professor X and Harry Potter make a monster and only James Moriarty can stop them!"


Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, we can begin.

There can be a benefit to looking at a familiar story from a different point of view, to mixing things up from what we’ve seen dozens of times before. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein is hardly a stranger to adaptation, with filmmakers having a go at bringing the monster to screen since 1910. Director Paul McGuigan and screenwriter Max Landis’ take in Victor Frankenstein is to tell the story from the point of view of Igor, Dr Frankenstein’s famously hunchback assistant. Daniel Radcliffe takes the role of Igor, in this a poorly treated and nameless hunchback in the circus who is liberated when medical student Victor Frankenstein finds him out to be something of a scientific savant. Victor cures Igor of his deformity and recruits him as his helper in his experiments of creating life from death, something which all leads to a familiar setting of a castle in the midst of a lightning storm and a body rising from a slab.

The thing that the film immediately reminded me of was Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies with a lot of its visual style, but especially because James McAvoy’s Victor Frankenstein has a lot of Robert Downey Jnr’s Sherlock Holmes in him, along with some of David Tennant’s Doctor from Doctor Who. He even has a magnetic lock-pick that functions like a sonic screwdriver. He’s like an arrogant chaotic fop with a tendency to chew the scenery, but there’s just something endearing about him even if he’s being a manipulative git. Through Igor’s naive and more innocent eyes we see Victor as a brash misguided genius. It’s not the most ground breaking interpretation of the character, but McAvoy and Radcliffe’s chemistry more than makes up for it in my opinion.

A meeting of the minds.
And fancy haircuts.
One of the easiest films to compare this to is Van Helsing, which I live-tweeted recently, as both go for a kind of revisionist and vaguely steampunk take on the monsters it deals with. I’d say Victor Frankenstein succeeds in that aesthetic a bit more and also has the benefit of not being as monumentally stupid as Van Helsing. The action is also a lot more entertaining and fun, particularly the sequence with the ape-creation named Gordon running rampage in a medical college. Although don’t get me wrong, this film is still kinda stupid at times. Andrew Scott’s religiously minded Detective Turpin seems to have psychic deduction powers a couple of times, making me wonder if some of that Sherlock Holmes DNA ended up in him as well. Also there are a few moments that I’m guessing were meant to be referencing tropes associated with the story, like Igor calling Victor “master” a couple of times, that just feel really weird. Victor also claims that he wants to reverse death, but if that’s the case then why make patchwork people? Why not just resurrect whole corpses? It just doesn’t feel that well thought out at times.

Awww... look at that little face.
And if I may put on my nerd hat for a moment, Victor refers to the man creation as “Prometheus,” obviously taken from the book’s title of “FRANKENSTEIN, or, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS,” but that refers to Frankenstein the man, not the monster, because the Prometheus of myth was the creator of mankind. In terms of mythology, Frankenstein the monster is paralleled to Adam, being the first of his species, or Lucifer because-

Alright, alright, I’ll stop now.

Anyway, I put this on screenwriter Max Landis, he of many controversial tweets. Then again, I’m expecting accuracy to the source material from a film that focuses on the point of view of a character that isn’t even in the book to begin with, so I’m fighting a losing battle no matter what I do.
Oh, and don’t get me started on dodgy London geography or we could be here for a while. But why is it impossible for filmmakers to look at a bloody map?

In the end it’s not as if Victor Frankenstein is bad necessarily, it’s just that by the time it gets to the finale it ends up feeling a bit flat and rushed. We get the creation of the monster, Victor’s realisation of his mistake, the required chaos and things being destroyed and thrown around (including a lamp because #FUCKLAMPS), and then the monster destroyed all in about 10 minutes. I know the film is more about everything leading up to that event, but it is just so lacking in the energy that went before that I couldn’t help but feel like they ran out of ideas. Even the reason for the third act shift and the man monster’s creation, that of fellow medical student Finnigan (who looks about twelve) funding Victor in order to weaponize the technology and then kill Victor, feels incredibly tacked on and completely arbitrary except as a reason for Igor to try and get to Victor and stop the experiment. And then we’re left on what might be a sequel hook or might just be establishing that the Frankenstein story that we all know is still to come, which either way feels nonsensical as it means Victor’s earlier realisation about his work being wrong was completely pointless.

Hey man, friends don't let friends drink and mad science.
Nevertheless, despite being as patchwork as the monsters being created I don’t think that Victor Frankenstein is a viewing experience to be avoided by any means. It’s got a very enjoyable visual style to it and some of the action is fun, but the biggest reason to watch it is McAvoy and Radcliffe and their dynamic. It’s watchable, if not world-changing.

Victor Frankenstein gets 3 undead monkey limbs out of 5

Victor Frankenstein is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Vudu, Google Play, & blu-ray/DVD