Everyone from an elderly cat to undiscovered Amazonian tribes-people are well aware of the precondition of any monster movie, let alone, this movie, the most iconic of them all. This being to focus on the monster. Arguably however, and with an unfortunate irony, through director Paul McGuigan attempting to hark back to the core essence of Mary Shelley’s work, he inadvertently misses out on the monster flick which the audience demands of such a restrictive title.
McGuigan presents a failed tale recalling the man versus god debate of the original, but goes about this in the way that only the worst of movies can, by boring their audience to death. This whole debate unfolds through the eyes of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), whose underwhelming character serves as a vessel to guide us into this 19th century drab dystopic vision. Radcliffe begins the movie as a circus freak, a fortress of solitude, who spends a great deal of time improving upon his understanding of physiology.
Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy), a cliche of predictable peculiarity, discovers the inquisitive intellect beneath the deformed façade of Radcliffe’s character and adopts him in a fiery abduction, one of the few highlights of the movie. The garish colours, and nightmarish imagery of the strange Victorian circus set environment, as well as the winding sewer escape were hopeful artistic cues for a Wes Anderson-esque approach to the production. After all, in our enlightened, cynical, post-modern age, who could possibly attempt to tackle the subject matter of re-animating bits of meat seriously? McGuigan certainly did just that.
Through their partnership, Radcliffe and McAvoy participate on a dithering and docile journey across dimly lit sets. Frankenstein has antagonism with the pious detective Andrew Scott, whose expression of faith in the face of scientific progress has been seen a million times before hand. The greatest interplay between the two leads being found in what critics have deemed universally as the unintentional comedy of Victor Frankenstein sucking the ooze out of Igor’s back with an oversized syringe, to liberate his lowly assistant from the life of a hunchback.
The meat of the movie – the part which the audience has come to see – is of course the monster, and is only revealed in the final act of the movie. Here the final scene reveals a grey beast who is slow and predictable, and whose actions reflect the nature of this disastrous film. Unfortunately the Frankenstein in this production fails to compete with the iconic theatrics of Colin Clive in the 1931 Frankenstein cult classic, where he screamed “It’s alive!” Instead, McAvoy will leave you feeling a whole lot deader than when you entered the cinema.
Overall, both Radcliffe and McAvoy do not deliver laughably bad performances, nor is the direction of McGuigan terrible, yet this is only more reason for disregarding this bore of a film.
Is it worth watching?
Victor Frankenstein puts the pop icon performance of the box-headed Boris Karloff to shame.
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