The latest take on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein takes a slightly different tack from its cinematic forebears and focuses not on the monster or the act of its creation, but rather on the "bromance" between the good doctor and his assistant, Igor. Rescuing the initially nameless, uneducated and abused hunchback from a cruel circus, where he was acting as both circus clown and physician (WHAT!?), Victor soon resolves most of Igor's medical problems, gives him a new home and sets him up as his assistant.
Igor gets to work helping Victor with relatively small scale experiments reviving dead tissue, experiments that are then whipped away to a mysterious laboratory in the basement, while on his off time he checks in on the lovely trapeze artist from the circus (Jessica Brown Findlay) and is in turn pursued by an overzealous Detective Inspector (Andrew Scott) who has unnatural suspicions about Victor's recent activities.
While the tone of the film varies wildly, it sets a baseline when the title character first introduces his name via a cutaway to the film's title card, a moment that comes off a little too knowingly cute.
Like the monster, Victor Frankenstein is an odd patchwork of cinematic parts, flirting with action, adventure, romance and comedy during its runtime. Most of the comedy seems intentional and primarily comes from McAvoy's manic performance as Frankenstein, frequently engaging in hyperactive rants, spittle flying from his mouth in a most entertaining fashion. McAvoy clearly had a whale of a time making this and as a result is the most enjoyable thing about the film. As Igor, Radcliffe has to act as audience surrogate and as such spends most of the time catching up on what's going on, a role that seems a little too familiar to his recent projects. Scott meanwhile needs to get a better agent, as after Spectre and this he's rapidly getting typecast as a sneering villain. Director Paul McGuigan (Push, Lucky Number Slevin) orchestrates all of this in style that feels a little like Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, albeit one where anatomical drawings replace the frequent slow-mo fetish of that series.
The monster only make a cursory appearance at the film's climax and hints are given that this might not be "THE" monster but rather "A" monster, presumably in order to leave the door open for the sequels hoped for by the studio. Based upon what's on offer here though, it's doubtful audiences will be raising flaming brands and pitchforks demanding the creation of any sequel.
VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: PAUL MCGUIGAN / SCREENPLAY: MAX LANDIS / STARRING: DANIEL RADCLIFFE, JAMES MCAVOY, JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY, ANDREW SCOTT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10