Victor Frankenstein is a re-telling of the old tale from the perspective of Igor, his assistant. Igor’s story is a blank slate so it leaves a lot of room to play with to create this relatively unknown character.
The film opens with the hunchback (Danielle Radcliffe) performing at the circus. A slave to the circus, he has no name and is forced to perform to the pleasure of the crowd. His deformities making shock and awe entertainment for the viewers. The hunchback spends his time reading stolen books, his favourite topic, anatomy. During a performance, the aerialist, a clear love interest to the hunchback, falls and injures herself. The hunchback’s research has given him the tools to detect the injury but not the confidence to help her.
Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy), introduced in a similar fashion to that of the Sherlock Holmes revamps, is attending the circus performance. His attendance is out of place as he does not appear to be there for pleasure but rather on a mission, the details of which are revealed later on. Rushing in to assist with the injured aerialist, Frankenstein is instantly impressed with the hunchback’s knowledge and assists with saving the girls life. After the show, Frankenstein finds the hunchback in his cage and makes him an offer of freedom. The two make a daring escape while being chased by the ringleader and the other circus employees, one of which is a familiar face of Lee Ingleby who played Stan Shunpike with Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. While trying to escape, Frankenstein uses some quick thinking to allude the circus employers, but while doing so causes one circus employee to kill another. The death of the circus employee is naturally blamed on the hunchback and wanted posted as immediately drafted and plastered throughout the city.
Frankenstein, while showing the hunchback his new home and the tools and books now at his disposal, collects an odd selection of objects he uses to attack the hunchback. Stabbing the hunchback on his hump, he drains fluid revealing the abnormality to be a cyst, then proceeds to strap on a support of his own design to straighten the hunchback into an upright position. The transition takes some time to adjust but makes the hunchback practically unrecognizable which helps with the fact that he is now a wanted man. Frankenstein’s roommate, Igor, has mysteriously disappeared so to further protect the hunchback, gives him the name of Igor.
Frankenstein introduces Igor to his latest research of reanimating dead tissue and the two quickly jump into the creation of a fully functioning creature. Investigator’s from the circus death are suspicious of the pair and increase their efforts when they discover the research the two are doing that is against god’s will.
The film had great potential with the element of surprise and mystery when giving a retelling of the illusive Igor. The execution in creating this backstory for Igor was relatively entertaining, and the beginning of the film gives much hope with the similarity to the Sherlock Holmes revamps which were so popular. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is well known and differs very little that any modern advancements in the film industry are not enough to wow us. Despite this, I did not hate the film, it was able to keep my attention (especially since it was during a long flight with no escape), but it was nothing worth raving about. It can be hard to see Radcliffe as anything but Harry Potter but was enjoyable none the less. As for McAvoy, I have not actively sought out any of his films just because of him, but I happen to love his acting in whatever I happen to see him in.
I am disappointed as it had much more potential, Victor Frankenstein is best left for lazy Netflix days that we are all very familiar with.