You would think that a steampunk version of Frankenstein starring James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe would be a huge success. However, this film turned out to be a major flop.
Victor Frankenstein is a new take on the classic story by Mary Shelley, told from the perspective of Igor (Radcliffe). After being rescued from a circus and, for a better lack of a word, “repaired” by a young Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy), the insanely intelligent Igor becomes his assistant. The two then begin the work of piecing together a monkey from body parts and attempting to bring it to life. They succeed, but the monkey goes crazy, and after a chase through a prestigious university, they are forced to kill it. A classmate of Frankenstein’s, Finnegan (Freddie Fox), witnesses their ability to create life and offers to fund their experiments; on the condition that they bring a human back to life. While all this is going on, Igor begins a romantic relationship with Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), a former trapeze artist from the circus. Also, Frankenstein is investigated by a religious Scotland Yard officer, named Detective Turpin (Andrew Scott). Eventually, Turpin goes mad and exposes what Frankenstein and Igor have been up to and attempts to capture them. Frankenstein and Igor escape and flee to Finnegan’s. He offers to hide them at his family’s castle in Scotland, where they can continue their experiments. Igor, refuses to go. Upon the departure of Frankenstein, he is kidnapped and thrown into the river to die by Finnegan’s men. Igor survives, and travels to Scotland with Lorelei to attempt to stop and save Franenstein. Igor is unable to persuade Frankenstein to stop, and the monster is successfully brought to life. However, the experiment goes awry and everyone dies except for Frankenstin, Igor, and Turpin. Frankenstein greets his monster, but then rejects it, immediately. The monster kills Turpin and then turns on his creator. Frankenstein and Igor work together and defeat the monster. Igor and Lorelei end up together, while Frankenstein travels and works on designing a better monster.
The movie is billed as a dramatic science fiction horror movie with a love story. In my opinion, the movie had no clue what it was. It’s all over the place. Other than a few scenes with the monkey and the monster at the end, there isn’t anything horror about it.
The acting is very drab and boring. The characters, outside of Igor, are uninteresting and have no character arc at all. I was sadly disappointed with the performance of both McAvoy and Scott because I have loved them in other works. They looked as bored of the film as I was. The character of Victor Frankenstein is horrible. He causes so many problems and his actions have cost many their lives. In the end, his character learned nothing and didn’t grow. He’s literally, “Okay, I know how we can make a better monster.”
The only good thing in the entire movie is Daniel Radcliffe. He seemed to be the only one committed to his role. Igor was by far the most interesting character in the movie and the only one to have any kind of story arc. Sadly, his performance wasn’t enough to carry the movie.
Written by Max Landis and Directed by Paul McGuigan, Victor Frankenstein was a bomb in the box office and considered a failure. It’s not hard to see why with all the film’s short comings.
Are their worse films? Yes. However, Victor Frankenstein is right up there with the worst of them. There have been plenty of amazing versions of Frankenstein brought to life on screen. This isn’t one of them. Save yourself the time and revisit the Universal and Hammer films.