Victor Frankenstein Is a Love Story Gone Terribly Wrong

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 - 11:00AM
Victor Frankenstein
Reviews
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 - 11:00AM
Victor Frankenstein Is a Love Story Gone Terribly Wrong
Victor Frankenstein only works as a love story, and no, I'm not talking about the tepid romance between Daniel Radcliffe's Igor and Jessica Brown Findlay's Lorelei. I'm talking about Igor and Victor Frankenstein, as the amazing buddy chemistry between Radcliffe and James McAvoy provides the little enjoyment that can be derived from this absolute disaster of a film. It is, at turns, a horror movie, an action movie, a buddy comedy, a Hunchback of Notre Dame-esque tale of injustice. But rather than integrating these disparate threads together to form some kind of oddball genre-bender, it devolves into a cliched mess that doesn't work on any of these levels.

It opens with a genuinely upsetting backstory for Igor: he grows up a nameless hunchback who is abused and humiliated, working in the freak show of the circus his whole life. Victor Frankenstein stages a jailbreak when he discovers that the hunchback is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about human anatomy, and gives him the name Igor after his former roommate. Igor is ecstatic that someone is finally being kind to him, and yet the audience can see that Victor is an arrogant egotist who saved Igor because he has a specific use for him. And the moment Victor is cagey about the fate of his former roommate, the man that Igor is literally replacing, we can see the direction this is headed.

But Victor Frankenstein doesn't really go down that route, because it's too intent on turning Victor and Igor into the new Sherlock and Watson. There is a tension between Victor actually caring about Igor and using him for his own ends, but this interesting plot thread is subsumed underneath conspiracies, run-ins with the law, a bizarrely disturbing zombie monkey, and ultimately, (spoiler!) a ridiculously cheesy climactic showdown with a monster that looks like an even campier version of the Engineers from Prometheus.

This is still a Frankenstein story, so of course there was a half-hearted attempt to explore the science versus religion conflict. Victor is determined to prove that there is no God, that there is no "natural order" that can be violated, there is only biology and chemistry. In the best scene of the movie, the religious Detective Turpin tells him that he's dealing with "vengeful forces," and we assume that he's talking about God, but then he says, "Nature knows no mercy." But then, of course, the movie promptly drops that philosophical thesis in favor of some bad CGI monsters and mad scientists cackling while bolts of electricity sizzle around them. This might have been a good strategy if Victor Frankenstein had turned into a mindless action tentpole, but the action was far too lame and the film far too boring to justify its dumbness. The ending clearly leaves it open to become some kind of Sherlock Holmes-like franchise, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
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Victor Frankenstein
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