By Carma Spence
“Life is temporary, why should death be any different.”
One of many interpretations of Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein was directed by Paul McGuigan and written by Max Landis. Released in 2015, it starred James McAvoy (Children of Dune, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Charles Xavier from the latest X-Men series of films) as Victor Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry from the Harry Potter films, The Woman in Black, and Swiss Army Man) as Igor.
This time, the classic tale is told from Igor’s point of view. It starts off as an Igor origin story and evolves into the evolution of Victor into the character we know from the novel. Of course, this is a fable of how science — and hubris — can go astoundingly wrong.
- Daniel Radcliffe (Igor)
- James McAvoy (Victor Frankenstein)
- Jessica Brown Findlay (Lorelei)
- Andrew Scott (Inspector Turpin)
- Freddie Fox (Finnegan)
Screenplay: Max Landis
Cinematography: Fabian Wagner
Music: Craig Armstrong
Special Effects: Millennium FX
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Budget: $40 M
Summary of Victor Frankenstein:
When the movie opens, Igor is an abused hunchback at a circus. He is smitten by Lorelei, the trapeze artist, and also is brilliant in his knowledge of medicine, having studied books on his own. Victor has come to the circus to scout for animal parts and after witnessing Igor save Lorelei’s life when she falls, decides to rescue him from the clutches of his abusers.
As it turns out, Igor is not a hunchback after all — he just has an abscess that has been untreated for years. Victor fixes it, laying the groundwork for Igor’s devotion.
Victor is driven to prove that his theories of bringing back life to the dead via electricity are sound and uses Igor’s insights to perfect his techniques. They successfully bring a pieced-together chimpanzee back to life, but it escapes and kills someone during its rampage. Now the police are involved.
Victor’s success catches the eye of one of his fellow students (Finnegan), who now offers to fund the research, albeit for his own hidden agenda. As Victor and Igor begin to apply what they’ve learned from the chimpanzee experiment to the task of bringing a pieced-together man back to life the stakes are raised by all the intrigue, conspiracies, a murder investigation and (now that he’s no longer a hunchback) Igor’s budding romance with Lorelei.
Analysis & Evaluation of Victor Frankenstein
Like so many films today, this movie is dark and gritty. With an almost steampunk aesthetic, you can see the influences of earlier Frankenstein films such as Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing, and yet McGuigan is able to make it his own. His experience spans both television and film, including The Reckoning (2002), Push (2009), and four episodes of Sherlock (2010, 2012). Other than that, I wasn’t abel to find much information about him.
Daniel Radcliffe brings poignancy to the role of Igor. Here is a man who, as he says in the film, “It’s hard to judge cruelty when you’ve never known kindness.” And yet, you see him struggle with his loyalty to Victor and his own set of values. At the beginning of the film, he is a retch with no hope of ever having a decent life. But after having his “hump” removed he realizes that he can have a normal life. In addition, Victor’s dependence on him and his growing romance with Lorelei give him confidence. Radcliffe brought this character to three-dimensional life, making him an excellent avatar for the audience.
James McAvoy also puts in a good performance. His Victor is brilliant, crazy, frenetic and self-absorbed. You truly believe that he looks past the ethics of what he is doing simply to prove his own genius. Added to this particular story, is Victor’s history with his father and older brother. McAvoy sells this internal struggle well.
I really enjoyed the character development and the efforts made to make the tale believable. Supporting characters that were given sufficient screen time, such as the Inspector, Lorelei, and Finnegan, were also given enough substance to be believable people. The visuals and dialogue made the “science” seem plausible. I was sucked into the film from the beginning through to the end. I only wish I had seen this on the big screen, rather than a small one on the back of the chair in front of me on an airplane.
The special effects were good when you could see them. Sometimes the “dark and gritty” look of the film made it difficult to see what was going on, especially with the reanimated chimpanzee (although that might have been on purpose). The costume and set design really sold the time and place.
I had been waiting a while to see this film and I believe it was worth the wait. I definitely want to see it again with fewer distractions. The film is rated PG-13 for macabre images, violence and a sequence of destruction, but I think it might be a bit too gory for some audiences, especially younger ones. If you are a fan of Shelly’s monster, this film is probably worth seeing and could make an excellent addition to your horror icon collection.