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Victor Frankenstein Review

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“You know this story” Igor tells us as the curtain goes up on Victor Frankenstein, another reincarnation of the good doctor’s experiments in bringing the dead to life. In seeking to give oxygen to the well-worn tale, writer Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra) concerns himself with the relationship between Victor (James McEvoy) and Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), a meeting of brilliant minds that bond over the ability to affect and change life through medicine and science.
 
 
The film peddles back to the moment of their first meeting, as Igor, then a nameless hunchback and abused circus freak is rescued by Victor when he comes in search of dead animals for his latest project. Really Igor is Frankenstein’s first true creation, curing him in the most revolting fashion of his hunched back, marking just the beginning of their grotesque practices.

McAvoy and Radcliffe make for a winning team, the Walter White and Jesse Pinkman of Victorian London, master and protégé, rock star and adoring fan. McAvoy is wonderful as Victor playing him as a charismatic sociopath, a manipulative genius bent on success no matter what the cost. Radcliffe has the harder role, being the creative partner yet the conscience of the film. He is well cast, his smaller stature lending itself to the physicality of the role, his bright mind conveying the equal anatomical brilliance of his master's.

Andrew Scott (Spectre) too impresses as the master detective on Frankenstein’s trail. A man of faith, he is psychologically undone by Victor’s quest to beat death, and the two lock horns as the God versus science debate rages between them. Director Paul McGuigan's vision is stunning at times, the era beautifully recreated, the costumes exquisite. It is only in the second half as Victor begins his most macabre experiment yet and Igor seeks the love of Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) a former trapeze artist, that the film starts to boil over like an experiment left too long on the Bunsen burner.

Having simmered and bubbled along beautifully in all its gothic glory for the first half, the end result is overblown in an anti-climax all too familiar to audiences. Where it thrives in the new chapters it brings to an old story, it deflates when it finally reaches the familiar tropes. The monster is late to the party, which is no harm given the adventure preceding it but compared to recent versions of the reanimated corpse in say Penny Dreadful, where he is a conflicted character abhorred by his origins, here he is a dead eyed beast, a horrific rough and ready terminator, albeit with bolts in his neck and newly stitched skin.
Victor’s hope of creating life after death is, he argues a noble one, where one day “a murdered man can stand in court and face his accuser” but ultimately his experiment just like the film’s ending fall short in its execution. Enjoy for the grotesque Victorian menagerie it is and the two energetic performances from its exceptional leading men.
 

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The Movie Bit: Victor Frankenstein Review
Victor Frankenstein Review
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