Starring James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Freddie Fox, Charles Dance
Turning Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein into an action movie is exactly the dumb idea screenwriter Max Landis (American Ultra) and director Paul McGuigan (Push) took all the way to the big screen. There is a reason Victor Frankenstein didn’t bow during the Halloween season, its narrative atrocity is certainly hoping to be lost in the fray during the Thanksgiving holiday. “You know this story…” the narration begins, and it’s true, we have seen multiple versions throughout history on screen, and yet none of them any good. Not even the dedication from stage and screen actor Radcliffe (Harry Potter) or the typically reliable Oscar nominated McAvoy (Atonement) can make this monster film come alive.
A nameless hunchback (Radcliffe) with knowledge of the human body, acted quick to save the life of his acrobatic circus friend Lorelei (Findlay), while Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) watched in amazement. The prominent medical student Frankenstein would return to the circus freeing entrapped hunchback, correct his spinal deformity and call him Igor. Frankenstein doesn’t help the young man out of pity or kindness, he needs a partner to assist in a project that he promises will ‘create life out of death’. Word of their experiments reach Scotland Yard, and the two scientists must abandon their posts to continue their controversial work elsewhere.
The deeper into the madness of Frankenstein we go, the farther from a coherent story we get.
Helping break someone out of a circus prison shouldn’t be a slow motion action sequence, yet that’s exactly the opening scene we get complete with bullets, animals and scary clowns. The bells and whistle immediately sound that this modern version of the story is looking for the Sherlock Holmes / Van Helsing audience. As McAvoy overacts every single scene, McGuigan’s lack of control or direction for this project becomes increasingly clear. They can’t seem to decide which characters point of view moves the story, the guy from Harry Potter or Professor X. The deeper into the madness of Frankenstein we go, the farther from a coherent story we get. Frankenstein’s father, the religious detective, the circus owner, the rich manipulator, the script cannot decide on who the villain is, only that Igor is the saving grace.
Even with the obnoxious and misplaced action scenes scattered throughout the film, Victor Frankenstein is lifeless and stagnant with the uneven narrative plotting. A romance is thrown in the mix alongside everything else that distracts from character building and real storytelling. As it gallivants toward the worst imaginable conclusion, as the monster they create looks exactly like the cartoon we all know. A final action sequence involving the two scientists and nearly every wanna-be villain concludes in a lackluster spectacle that finally signals the end to one of the years worst films.
This story was never meant to be an action movie.