Victor Frankenstein Featured

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein story has been the launching point for a host of films, from the iconic James Whale version from the 1930’s starring Boris Karloff (and its sequel Bride of Frankenstein) to the more recent, (and awful) I, Frankenstein, to numerous appearances in comedies such as Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and Monster Squad; this latest iteration decides to forego Frankenstein’s creature almost completely, and instead concentrates on the his creator, Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and his relationship with his assistant, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe).

Victor’s name may be the one on the poster but this is really Igor’s tale, charting his journey from nameless, hunchbacked, circus clown and slave, albeit one with a natural talent for medicine, to full member of society, lover and mad scientist, all thanks to a chance encounter with Victor. The over-the-top tone is set from the off with a slightly ludicrous, slo-mo infused escape from the circus, that is immediately followed by a whirlwind sequence where Victor cures pretty much all of Igor’s maladies, sets him up as his assistant and leaves him in a lost and bewildered state.

A measured Gothic horror story this is not.

Victorian Bromance


From this point on the two friends bond over scientific breakthroughs and nights out on the town, as Igor provides vital assistance with Victor’s “mysterious” experiments, and we all know where that will eventually lead.

Thrown in to the mix for good measure are a love interest (Jessica Brown Findlay), an overzealous detective inspector (Sherlock’s Moriarty, Andrew Scott, once again failing to escape typecasting as he did in this month’s Spectre) and a world that doesn’t understand them and their quest for life after death.


Scenery stealing, chewing and swallowing

While Radcliffe’s character may be the focus of the story, McAvoy spectacularly steals the
show with a spittle spraying, scenery-chewing performance that sees him taking every opportunity to rant and rave and shout random sayings at unexpected moments. For the most part these are some of the highlights of the film, the comedic highlights, however I wasn’t expecting this to be the kind of movie to (intentionally) inspire laughter, and this may put off some audience members.

McAvoy is aided and abetted in his on-screen lunacy by Paul McGuigan’s solid if unshowy direction and Max Landis’ script, both of which take every opportunity to set up random non-sequiturs and outbursts from McAvoy.


As the far more earnest Igor, Radcliffe has a lot more work to do and unfortunately comes off as yet another confused character who has to catch up with what’s going on around him, much like Harry Potter or Ig in Horns. He’s perfectly serviceable but it would be nice to see Radcliffe really get stuck in to a different type of on-screen role where he can provide the impetus for the story for once, like a villain or more ambiguous character.

Monsters Ball

While all this is going on, Frankenstein’s monster is nowhere to be seen (although there are appearances by grisly …prototypes) and those expecting a faithful retelling of the original tale will be sorely disappointed. This is first and foremost a story about the “bro-mance” between these two men, an excuse for McAvoy to have some fun and essentially operates as “Frankenstein Begins“.

Victor Frankestein is a mostly undemanding romp, worth watching if you can accept it’s more ludicrous sections with a smile and for McAvoy’s enjoyably deranged performance. It’s doubtful it will be remembered in years to come in amongst the ranks of the other versions mentioned above but it will serve as another reminder of Hollywood’s need to remake, remix and re-imagine existing stories for their brand recognition rather than create wholly new ones.

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Freddie Fox , Charles Dance

Directed by: Paul McGuigan

Official Site here.