Director: Paul McGuigan
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Andrew Scott, Jessica Brown Findlay
Rating: ♣ ♣ ♣ 1/2 || ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 1/2
Allow me to begin by saying that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is my favourite book in the universe, and I live in constant frustration of not (yet) having come across a cinematic adaptation faithful to the novel. Kenneth Branagh’s take was close to perfection until they started adding extra things. Look, it’s completely understandable that some details would be omitted lest you end up with a five hour-long movie, but adding stuff is – at least to me – inconceivable.
Basically, I’m extremely protective of this story. You can imagine my reaction to the news of a new take on it that was going to include Igor, a character that is not part of the novel. Yes, I went a bit… way too… wild. However, as the project developed, details were revealed, and a clip was shown in Hall H at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. I gave it a chance; it was not an adaptation of the novel, but more a story taking a character and the idea of the creation of the “monster” and giving them their own story. I’m cool with that.
Victor Frankenstein was, to me, a nice take on a classic but keeping the essence of Victor Frankenstein, the inventor obsessed with death and finding a way to bring others back to life. The story is told from the perspective of Igor Straussman, a hunchback circus clown rescued and cured by Victor Frankenstein.
That’s the vital detail everyone seems to be forgetting: this is not an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, it’s a different story with one of the main characters from the novel. I’ve read some complaints about the movie not showing much of the creature and it being focused more on Victor, which confuses me because that’s exactly the purpose of the movie: showing the real monster, and that is Victor Frankenstein. Which is why it’s also wrong to compare it to other Frankenstein movies that are, in theory, actually based on the novel (and I say “in theory” because many of them do with it whatever they like, losing the point of adapting a book to the big screen).
Back to the movie: it’s an interesting look at the life of medicine student Victor Frankenstein and his obsession with creating life. We see his ups and downs, his passion turned into obsession, and his good heart too; sure, he was aggressive, but he also had a good heart (come on, he rescued Igor and helped him walk properly).
Igor is a walking sweet; having known only cruelty in his life, he is surprised when this stranger shows him kindness and a new life opportunity. It’s interesting seeing how, no matter what he lived through and what he saw – both in captivity and in freedom – didn’t corrupt his heart and beliefs.
Victor Frankenstein is a good example of society’s cruelty, and it shows its many faces. It also gives us a close look at the extremes that obsession (and passion-turned-into-obsession) can reach, seen both in Victor and Scotland Yard’s detective Roderick Turpin (who is obsessed with religion and with catching Victor).
As for the actors, it was with this movie I finally felt Radcliffe left the Harry Potter shadow behind, something I didn’t feel he accomplished with Kill Your Darlings (hey – then again, this is just my perception, but his acting on this one was truly one to consider). McAvoy keeps surprising me every time I see him, and he completely blew me away with his performance as Victor Frankenstein. I’m going to use my Frankenstein fan card again to say I was delighted by his portrayal of the complexity of Victor Frankenstein. There’s so much heart in his performance.
On the other hand, my fangirl heart was racing at the sight of McAvoy. Maybe it was the character, maybe it was the performance, maybe it was the hair (it has happened before), or maybe all of that, but it’s fair to say I now see him with fangirl heart-eyes.
Seeing one of my favourites as Roderick Turpin (Andrew Scott) was also a gift, though I do share the concern of Scott being typecast due to his role as Jim Moriarty in Sherlock. Truth is that Scott knows how to play a villain, and here he manages to make you think he might be a good guy and then BAM! I’ll just say that a lot happens.
Probably the one thing I didn’t enjoy that much – but that’s just because of my over-protectiveness with the novel – was a change in Victor’s family. If they had kept that detail from the original source, there wouldn’t have been a difference; in fact, it would have been ten times more dramatic (who doesn’t like a good dose of heartbreak, right?).
Last but not least, I spent a considerable amount of time waiting for Igor and Victor to kiss. There’s some homoerotic tension going on and, well, I would lie if I say I didn’t enjoy that.
If you decide to watch it, please keep in mind that – and excuse me for repeating this so much, but it is extremely important – this is not an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Have that present in your mind the entire time… and enjoy the film!
File under: Movies I will protect with my life. Congratulations, you made it to the special file!