Victor Frankenstein follows an unorthodox take on the Frankenstein mythos by viewing the story through the eyes of Igor. After being freed from the shackles of the circus by Frankenstein, the mentally exquisite Igor is brought under the eccentric doctor's wing as an assistant. As their friendship grows stronger, the science that binds them begins to reveal the dark corners of Victor's personality. Is Victor a colleague of science or a masterful manipulator seeking something sinister?
Victor Frankenstein Review
I was surprised by how much I liked Victor Frankenstein. I frankly wasn't expecting anything of much quality from the previews. It featured two actors that I thought would play off each other fantastically, and not much else. The atmosphere [from the trailer] reminded me of recent failures like I, Frankenstein and The Last Witch Hunter. Both felt like knock-offs of successful genre films and their shallow value reflected that. I expected something similar from Victor Frankenstein. But the sucker I am for James McAvoy forced me to give it a shot.
Using dark humor, a daring break from the norm of the classic plot, and top-notch acting, we get a better-than-expected tale woven with a blend of historical literature and originality. As I had predicted (and hoped), McAvoy and Radcliffe have a great on-screen chemistry that comes off like an overly timid Watson meets McAvoy's impression of Robert Downey Jr's take on Sherlock. If I were to say there was one downside to McAvoy's performance, it would be that he seemed to extract a bit too much from Downey Jr's Sherlock. Nonetheless, it was entertaining and engaging for most of the film.
I liked that this film was more about the characters of Victor and Igor rather than the monster. Most of the time I would be disappointed to see the monster only make an appearance in the final act, but in this case it made a lot of sense. This story isn't about the monster, unlike the 1931 classic, which chose to spend its time encapsulating the undead experiment's struggle to connect with the living. This story is about Igor and his relationship with Victor. At least, it is in those moments that the film truly shines.
I teeter back and forth between the necessity for the love story that takes place in the film. I hate when such stories are forced, and because the runtime does not expend much energy on "the chase" of the romantic story, it makes it more bearable due to its limited cliche moments. The love is there early on, it is more the maintaining of the relationship in conflict with the science and friendship of the two. It's minutely refreshing, but perhaps not refreshing enough. I found myself most involved with the character development and interactions between our two lead roles. I liked the reveals of Victor's past and his inner demons, struggles and motivations. The film spends enough time on this portion of the plot that it made me like the film. So I was left not only surprised that I liked it, but for the reason I did.
The script has faltering moments and the cinematography carries some unfortunate practices that were better left for the aforementioned genre films. I can see how these flaws would be enough to disconnect someone from the experience of the highlights, but it wasn't enough for me. I found it highly entertaining in its oft-awkward delivery, like the limp of Igor lunging haphazardly about. I wanted to watch the performance for what it was, and I'll give credit to the film for making me willing to do so, under whatever spell it cast to make it so.