What normally happens when a secondary character gets to take center stage in any performance piece, be it television or film? Embellishment happens, of course.
That’s the twist for Victor Frankenstein the latest interpretation of the monster’s tale for the screen. Actors James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe go where Kenneth Branagh and others did not. Igor (Radcliffe) it’s time for your close-up. The film opens Wednesday (Nov. 25).
The story, this time out, is told from the loyal assistant’s point of view. But this version of Igor is unlike previous incarnations in that the former hunchback and circus performer possesses medical skill, high intelligence and undeniable charms. When medical student Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and Igor work together to save the life of Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), the circus’ trapeze artist, the good wannabe doctor recognizes his talent.
He takes Igor back to his humble abode and turns him into assistant. He unleashes his intellect and together they create a monster – not the one expected. Ol’ Vic has got to make sure his harebrained theories work first. He and Igor create a chimpanzee, hybrid thigamawatchamacallit it. The doctor’s ability to create “life” is confirmed.
After that initial demonstration, he gets what every scientist with a god complex needs – financial backing from Finnegan (Freddie Fox), a member of a prominent family who wants to ultimately harness the secrets of Frankenstein’s technology to make it his own.
So we have the scientist with that god complex. We have the greedy financier. What else is missing? Oh yes, the god-fearing cop on Frankenstein’s trail. And that’s where screenwriter Max Landis and director Paul McGuigan show the ambition of their characters – mixing theological debate with corporate greed in an attempt to create a broader morality tale. Sorry, that can be seen coming from a mile away.
Their one element featuring Igor offers something in that he serves as both the audience’s guide and Frankenstein’s conscience, at least keeping everyone engaged. McAvoy launches himself into his part with unabashed glee. He at least tries to have fun with it.
Ultimately, however, Victor Frankenstein is a creepy, hot mess that aims high but fails quickly in that effort.
Movie: Victor Frankenstein
Director: Paul McGuigan
Cast: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG-13 for macabre images, violence and a sequence of destruction
Running time: 109 minutes
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com