FILM by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
The classic monsters of yore don’t cut it anymore. It has been a while since Dracula, the Mummy or the Wolfman have scared anyone, and efforts to revive them have fallen flat, as recently as the CGI-bore Dracula Unbound.
In theory, Victor Frankenstein — an adaptation more interested in the mad doctor than the creature — shouldn’t work at all. There is no corner of Mary Shelley’s classic left to be explored (remember I, Frankenstein from 2014? Me neither). But Victor is drenched in camp and features appropriately over-the-top turns by Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. In short, it’s fun.
The story is told from Igor’s perspective. A hunchback treated as a de facto slave at the circus, Igor (Radcliffe, looking like the Cure’s Robert Smith) is rescued by the manic Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy). Turns out the young outcast has a knack for human anatomy and is exactly the kind of assistant the mad doctor needs to conquer death.
Despite his appreciation for his saviour, though, Igor can’t help but feel unease over Frankenstein’s ethics — actually the lack of them.
The cast is appropriately one note: McAvoy is as intense as Radcliffe is submissive. Andrew Scott (Moriarty in Sherlock) is perfectly opaque as the zealous policeman on their trail, and Charles Dance does his disapproving father thing. The dialogue is deliciously broad. Upon discovering Igor’s skills, Victor exclaims: “You’re not a clown! You’re a physician!” Kind of a reverse Ben Carson.
While origin stories are often a drag until the big reveal takes place, the setup is the best part of Victor Frankenstein. Edited within an inch of its life, the film has no fillers and some of the action scenes work nicely (the monster, however, is a bit of a letdown). Once in a while the perfunctory discussion about life without soul pops up, but fizzles quickly. Who wants to talk theology when you can have a mindless monkey causing havoc?