‘Victor Frankenstein’ seemed to have missed it’s obvious Halloween release date and instead has been released amongst all the festive films for this year. Being panned by critics all over the show my expectations for this retelling of the classic tale couldn’t have been lower. The 1931 ‘Frankenstein’ movie is actually one of the few black & white movies that I have seen and you can read my review for it here. Nearly 85 years later, how would ‘Victor Frankenstein’ compare?
‘Victor Frankenstein’ is an origin story told from the perspective of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) and very much focuses on the man rather than the monster – although the lines between these two figures are very much blurred throughout the film. I thought that the origin aspects of the film were handled really well, they were always built together nicely with vital bits of information being feed to the audience throughout the film and not all at once. This origin story allowed us to really understand the motives of Frankenstein and I thought that James McAvoy’s performance as the mad genius only enhanced this further. I thought he constantly upstaged Daniel Radcliffe who does well at the beginning of the film but due to the way his character’s story goes has little to work with. The origin aspect of the film provided the audience with a fantastic opening sequence which was reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movies largely due to the slow motion but also through it’s sense of fun. The other notable cast member to mention here is Andrew Scott who plays a devout Christian detective, Roderick Turpin. The constant face off his character had with Frankenstein during the film was a treat. This spawned such themes as creation vs evolution, morality and life vs death. The dedication to their causes that each man had was great to watch and made for an entertaining rivalry, even if it did become slightly cartoonish towards the end.
There were certainly some issues with the film though, pacing springs to mind first. If you haven’t seen trailers or know little about the film you might expect to see Frankenstein’s monster much sooner than you do. I’m not sure if the big wait is worth it either, naturally the monster looks slightly goofy. This is of course to be expected from a man made of many different parts but I can’t help think that this is a story that lends itself better to a 1931 audience than a 2015 one. As well as the issues with the climax to the film there is a side plot with romance at it’s focus. Unfortunately this was as uninteresting as you might expect slap bang in the middle of a monster movie. It does serve the plot however the relationship should have been developed better in order to make these moments entertaining rather than just necessary. Apart from these elements though the film is largely enjoyable and I can’t see where the massive hate for this film has materialised from.
Victor Frankenstein offers audience an interesting origin story to the well known characters of cinema past, however the focus on origin rather than monster will frustrate some viewers. A cracking opening, good character rivalry and some good performances mean that there is plenty to praise here. Like Frankenstein’s monster though not everything slots perfectly into place with some pacing issues and a tedious romance element that only exists to further the plot. This won’t be a classic but it doesn’t deserve the harsh time it is getting.
Rating – 7/10