Victor Frankenstein (2015)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Mary Shelley's book has captivated audiences for generations. Centered around a scientist determined to create life from death, modern filmmakers have long since abandoned the metaphorical themes in favor of sensationalism. This recent remake is no exception, more comic book heroism and invention than true to the original. Yet, it's memorable.
Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) lives a sorrowful existence inside a traveling circus. A deformed hunchback with an incredible scientific and medical mind, he spends his days abused in the arena and his nights studying medical books and longing to express his affection for the beautiful trapeze artist, Lorelai (Jessica Brown Findlay). Then, everything changes. Her rope snaps, sending her plummeting to the ground without a net. Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) rushes to her side, a physician with considerable skill... and pronounces there's nothing he can do to help her, without the proper tools. Igor thinks fast, snaps her bones back into place, and makes an impression on the doctor. Victor asks him to abandon the circus for a better life, a freer life, a life of great expectations.
Once inside Victor's world, Igor discovers the physician is more mad scientist than straight up doctor. He refuses to allow Igor into his downstairs lab, but presents him with interesting puzzles to solve. Little does Igor know that Victor is intent on playing God, in the most dramatic way possible.
I had mixed feelings about this film; I thought the first half was pure genius, but the second half lost its footing for me. It's full of familiar British faces (Mark Gatiss makes a minor appearance toward the end) and the production value is quite spectacular. Humanizing Igor, a character who doesn't exist in the novel, but is almost as well known as Frankenstein himself, is a brilliant idea, and Radcliffe contorts his body into incredible maladies, in a riveting performance. Once the movie strayed away from him, and delved more into the madness behind the Creature's invention, it faltered a bit. The cast is wonderful, the costumes divine, the climax spectacular. It can be beautiful one moment, grotesque the next, but likes to keep you guessing.
One thing I did like, which echoes the novel's themes, is how hideous the Creatures were, since Victor was so focused on invention, he paid no attention to aesthetics. He's so in love with his ability to transcend mortality and touch the divine, that he cannot see his own creations are warped, twisted, and ugly. The "beauty" of creation lacks the beauty of life itself, which raises interesting talking points for an audience interested in discussing it as more than pure entertainment. Though much altered from the source material, it cannot escape Shelley's themes of life, death, and playing God, in the process creating something deformed and soulless. And that's worth thinking about.
An unmarried couple lie together on a bed and kiss (the scene ends). A woman suggests a man prefers male company to female. Victor talks about sperm and fertilization while drunk.
Scattered profanities, and uses of "God" as exclamations.
Dismembered and/or severed body parts. Victor animates a hideous half-monkey creature, not fully with skin, whom Igor is forced to kill in self-defense. Some gore. Interactions with hearts, lungs, etc. Violence against Igor includes being beaten, shoved, kicked, and thrown around. Fisticuffs. The Creature comes to life and murders people, snapping necks, throwing them down cliffs, etc. Never too gory.