Movie Review: “Victor Frankenstein” – It’s Not Alive

Written by Caitlin Cooper December 24, 2015

victor frankenstein

“Frankenstein” is a classic horror story, but for I’ve yet to see a good film adaptation of the novel. In 2014, “I, Frankenstein” attempted to modernize and add, oddly enough, gargoyles to the tale to entice audiences members to give the film a chance. Unfortunately, the film seemed confused about its own origin story and instead became obsessed with visuals over quality of story. So, you might ask why I wanted to even bother with yet another “Frankenstein” adaptation. Well, the trailer for “Victor Frankenstein” looked pretty convincing, and seemed to stay closer to the original story. Unfortunately, the film fails to keep the story interesting with its slow pacing. “Victor Frankenstein” lacks the life a tale like this needs to survive amongst modern stories.

When a young circus act, named Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), meets Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy), he never expects the path he’ll go down with his new friend. Igor’s intelligence intrigues Frankenstein who sets him free from the circus and enlists him to be his assistant in his ongoing scientific project. Frankenstein is a medical student, but he’s more concerned with experiments than his studies. Igor and Frankenstein had dark lives before they met, but together they fully delve into darkness as they play with the balance of life and death itself. Through Igor’s perspective, we’ll see how Frankenstein became the legendary mad scientist.

“As my assistant you will be at the heart of a scientific enterprise that will change the world.”

I must admit this is a unique take on “Frankenstein” and yet it still manages to keep the heart of the story close to the book it’s based upon. The film has an eerie tone, and the muted colour scheme mirrors the dark subject matter. The film focuses more on Igor and how Frankenstein changes his life than on the mad scientist himself. Igor is a nameless hunchback rescued from the cruel circus life, who Frankenstein heals and introduces to the world. But Igor soon learns that his new friend is hiding a dark secret, and may be so emotionally broken by grief that he’s lost sight of reality and become obsessed with creating life after death. I like that we’re given a reason for Frankenstein’s obsession with death, and yet there’s isn’t quite enough depth to this backstory for it to have its fully intended impact. You can also clearly see how Igor forms a moral compass separate from his friend while still struggling to stand up to him. His romantic interest, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), helps him further his morals, whereas Frankenstein seems to deteriorate into obsession and pain as the movie goes on. And the monsters? Well, while they do indeed look gruesome like the trailer suggests, they actually get very little screen time. So the action scenes the trailer promises are few and fleeting.

victor frankenstein

There’s nothing wrong with the acting in “Victor Frankenstein”, which just goes to show that a good cast can’t save a weak script. It was odd to see Radcliffe playing such a bizarre character, but he does it quite well. He plays Igor as both slightly creepy, and yet endearing. We clearly see his emotional state as organic in the film. McAvoy is also a great actor; he easily plays Frankenstein as both obsessive, intelligent, and incredibly emotional. Andrew Scott as the inspector who’s chasing after Frankenstein as a thief and murderer is interesting, yet the character itself doesn’t add much to the story since we already have Igor and Lorelei as the moral characters.

“Don’t you see that the possibilities are endless? Life is beautiful, but it is finite.”

“Victor Frankenstein” is yet another attempt at a “Frankenstein” film adaptation, and while it has its moments and the cast is talented, the film itself is flat. The pacing is quite slow, and the story is underwhelming. I have yet to see a “Frankenstein” adaptation I’ve truly enjoyed, but at this point I won’t hold my breath for one. In terms of monster stories, I think this one just doesn’t work as a film. Excuse me while I go watch “Dracula Untold”. Now that was a good monster movie.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Victor Frankenstein

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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