Victor Frankenstein (2015)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
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Overall Rating 59%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,885
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Connections: Frankenstein

Told from Igor's perspective, we see the troubled young assistant's dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein, and become eyewitnesses to the emergence of how Frankenstein became the man - and the legend - we know today. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: March 26, 2016
Here I am moving through Frankenstein films, and wouldn't you know it, they dropped a brand new on me. What luck.

When all you've ever known is shame and pain, it never dawns on you that should expect anything different. Such is life for a horribly hunchbacked clown in a traveling circus. His fellow performers beat and berate him, and there's absolutely no chance of him ever wooing the beautiful trapeze artist, Lorelei, so he loses himself in study, teaching himself human anatomy in his spare time. One performance something goes horribly wrong and Lorelei's rope snaps, sending her crashing to the ground below. The hunchback rushes to her side and is joined by a doctor (Victor Frankenstein, of course)from the audience; together they realize that her broken skeleton is preventing her from breathing. Although Victor claims that they'll never be able to get her to a hospital in time to save her life, the hunchback quickly improvises a life-saving solution. Impressed, he breaks the crippled man out of the circus, takes him home, and makes a stunning revelation. His new friend isn't actually hunchbacked, only the victim of a massive cyst which he drain and gives him both a back brace to straighten his twisted posture and, more importantly, a name. He's taken on the identity of Frankenstein's former assistant, Igor, who's disappeared on a morphine bender. Fascinated with Igor's intimate knowledge of anatomy and ability to improvise, the doctor enlists him in his magnum opus: creating life itself.

Most of the discussion of the film is that it's from Igor's perspective, rather than Dr. Frankenstein, but that's not entirely the case. Sure, we've opened with Igor's origin instead of the doctor's and he gets an uninteresting romance angle, but the pair are too intertwined to claim one is more of a primary character than the other. What truly sets this movie apart is how it's focused more on the doctor's work than the actual being it creates. Yes, the classic monster figures very little into the overall film. Hell, it's not until late in the movie that he even decides to make a man, spending much of the film working on animals. I'm sure this alone is the reason for a large number of negative reviews, but it's unfair to put all the blame in that direction. You see, while there's some fun to be had watching them build their creations with the financial aid of one of the city's seedier millionaires and avoid the investigation of the police, it does tend to lose direction before long. Like in the novel, Frankenstein is crass, selfish and completely obsessed with his work. However, there the fruits of his labors manifest themselves quickly and force the man to attempt some sort of redemption. All of that is lost here.

What Victor Frankenstein lacks in plot strength, it makes up for with its visuals. Several times throughout the film, they would overlay a character or creature with an anatomical illustration. It wasn't overused, and accented the film's theme of anatomy quite well, especially when used in scenes where they've sustained injuries. This was often used along with an action movie-esque slow motion, which further shifted the movie away from the horror genre. Now, I'm sure a lot of people thought that this had no place in a Frankenstein movie, but given the lack of on-screen monsters, it was hard to call this a horror movie to begin with, so I was OK with the technique being used.

One thing everyone can agree on, however, is that both of these men had a ball in front of the camera. Daniel Radcliffe handled the tormented Igor learning how to live extremely well. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll ever be able to completely shake the Harry Potter connection, but a few more roles forcing him to run a gamut of emotions like this will certainly help. Still, he was handedly outshone by James McAvoy. The man brought a fervent glee to Frankenstein, completely embracing his insane enthusiasm. Expertly overacting in the manners of Raul Julia and Tim Curry, his performance put a great deal of entertainment back into the film that was lost by its meandering plot. I would love to see him in a more straightforward adaptation one day. In a smaller role, Andrew Scott did a fine job showing Inspector Turpin's losing battle between methodical rationale and unyielding obsession.

There is no denying that I had a lot of fun with Victor Frankenstein, but unfortunately it just doesn't do quite enough to warrant a place a place alongside better adaptations of Shelly's horror classic, nor on my DVD shelf. 6/10.
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