The story of Frankenstein has been told many times before. From Boris Karloff, whose work still stand up today, to last year’s I Frankenstein, which didn’t even stand up then. To do something different with the story is hard, but that is what Paul McGuigan’s Victor Frankenstein is attempting to do.
It does that by stripping the monster away. It doesn’t turn up until deep into the third act and instead we get the story of Dr. Frankenstein and Igor. At the start of the film Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) is a hunchback without a name who works in the circus. His one pleasure in life is the study of medicine. When Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) discovers his brilliant mind, he breaks him out and employs him to work alongside him in an attempt to create life.
In some ways, this does for Frankenstein what Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes did for Sherlock. It takes Frankenstein and turns him into a guy who is as capable with his fists as he is his mind. It is far removed from the obsessed scientist of the source material. Sadly, it completely fails to grasp the fun of those films. In fact, it’s just boring.
Which doesn’t mean to say that it doesn’t occasionally reach for something better, there are touches that verge on great. This steampunk London is an exciting setting and you want to see more of it. While Radcliffe’s physical depiction of Igor is well done. He twists his body and even after his humpback has been cured he still has an unusual gait that speaks to his past.
Unfortunately, it is all bogged down in shite. Andrew Scott is much better than his by the numbers God fearing policeman would have you believe while both McAvoy and Radcliffe have and will be much better than this. They are all underserved by the Max Landis’ script. Despite all its claims to be a different look at this story, it just isn’t. It is completely lacking in the flair that you need to make an adaptation of such a well-told tale stand out. There’s nothing here that you want to talk about when you come out of the cinema. The biggest plot points dance straight out of your mind as quickly as they entered.
Victor Frankenstein looks nice and it is packed full of acting talent, so it is a real shame that I could not give a damn about it. It offers nothing that hasn’t been done before and the whole way through you are looking for it to inject that sense of fun, which might just lift it out of the doldrums. Sadly it is not to be. It remains dull and forgettable. While it is by no means the worst adaptation of Mary Shelley’s work, it pales in comparison to the best