Published by The Strathclyde Telegraph.
Victor Frankenstein is an outlandish and, at times, implausible but thoroughly enjoyable twist on the legendary tale of the man who created a monster. With a rather exaggerated but electrified performance from James McAvoy as Doctor Victor Frankenstein, and Daniel Radcliffe as obedient side-kick Igor, this film tells the story of the man people often forget: the doctor himself.
The narrative of the story is driven by Igor who we find as a hunchback circus clown with an improbably wide knowledge on medical science. The film is very much centred on Victor through the eyes of Igor who narrates throughout – an appropriate choice considering that Shelley’s novel also has a framed narrative.
As the doctor arrives at the circus on the prowl for animals to steal and experiment on (he even creates a terrifyingly dangerous chimp-human hybrid), he stumbles across Igor who miraculously resets the broken collar bone of a fallen trapeze artist. Realising Igor’s talents, the doctor decides to free this circus-hunchback-turned-impromptu-physician to be his accomplice.
Throughout the film, Igor makes several references to the Frankenstein legend: ‘You know the story, a mad genius, an unholy creation’. And while critics have slammed the film’s technical flaws and McAvoy’s crazed performance (mirroring his portrayal of Bruce Robertson in Filth), it is in this spirit of subtext and nods to the viewer that creates an almost satirical, self-aware, fresh adaptation of one of the most adapted stories ever told.
It may not beat Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – the acclaimed 1994 adaptation – but overall, with visual spectaculars, and authentic, rustic costume and set that drops the audience in the heart of 18th century London during a time of unthinkable progress and religious anxiety, Victor Frankenstein is a messy creation much like the original monster himself; with skin barely and clumsily covering the workings of the body underneath. But at its heart, we can still see goodness.
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