Review: Victor Frankenstein (2015)

Director: Paul McGuigan | 105 minutes | drama, horror, science fiction, thriller | Actors: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Bronson Webb, Daniel Mays, Spencer Wilding, Robin Pearce, Andrew Scott, Callum Turner, Di Botcher, Eve Ponsonby, Will Keen, Louise Brealey, Nicola Sloane, Freddie Fox, Charles Dance , Alistair Petrie, Neil Bell, Mark Gatiss, Guillaume Delaunay

The Frankenstein story has been filmed so many times that you would have to take a good three months to see them all (based on one film a day). Is there still a need for another version? The answer to that question really depends on how faithful you are to Mary Shelley’s original story. “Victor Frankenstein” may start with the text “You know this story”, but that’s not quite right. Mary Shelly’s original story has been tinkered with to your heart’s content here, but that doesn’t have to be a barrier to viewing pleasure.

However, the title is somewhat misleading, because it is not the genius scientist, but his equally intelligent assistant Igor that is actually central. At the start of the film, Igor is still an unnamed circus artist, who goes through life hunchbacked and silently yearns for trapeze artist Lorelei. When she falls during a performance, he betrays his true talent; he saves her life with a seemingly simple act. The boy is self-taught and has taught himself anatomy and medicine. Young science student Victor Frankenstein witnesses the incident and becomes so intrigued by the hunchback clown that he frees him from his cage and takes him under his wing.

The boy, who has never left the circus before, adapts remarkably quickly. Not only does Victor help him get rid of his deformity, he also ensures that he looks a bit more representative. But Frankenstein’s true motivation is, of course, that he wants to use Igor’s gift for his own project: bringing to life a creature made up of body parts of deceased animals.

“Victor Frankenstein” looks slick. The Victorian era setting does the story a lot good. Although you can somewhat predict the outcome of the story, there are still some tense moments. Daniel Radcliffe is a fine Igor, but the show is stolen by James McAvoy, who is more than convincing in his already well-written role. Everything in his posture and gaze speaks of genius madness and madness and that is fascinating to watch. The only actor who comes close to that intensity in this movie is Andrew Scott (Moriarty from the “Sherlock” series) as Inspector Turpin, so the scenes where the two face each other are definitely a treat. In any case, “Victor Frankenstein” has a strong theme in the battle between those two gentlemen: science versus religion. That is, of course, the core of “Frankenstein”.

The blossoming romance between Igor and Lorelei is less successful, but fortunately not too much time is wasted. The subplot around Finnegan, who sees his way to world domination in Frankenstein, is also superfluous. But that doesn’t alter the fact that “Victor Frankenstein” is an entertaining film, better than many of the other Frankenstein titles inspired by Mary Shelley.

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