Directed by Paul McGuigan
Written by Max Landis
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, and Charles Dance
Do we need another adaption of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” no, do need one told from the perspective of a character who does not appear in Shelly’s novel, again, no. Do we need a “Frankenstein” adaptation done like Guy Richie’s version of “Sherlock Holmes,” maybe, but “Victor Frankenstein” is not that movie. It is hard to turn the story of “Frankenstein” into an action/adventure movie because “Frankenstein” is not that story, it is a story about science, technology, and man playing God.
Max Landis did not necessarily write a weak script for the movie, many of the thematic elements in the film were underdeveloped. I think that a lot of that had to do with the directorial decisions of Paul McGuigan because “Victor Frankenstein” touches on the ideas of the intersection of science and faith, man playing God, and humanity. These ideas were not as developed as they could have been. These ideas are told to the audience time and time again, without being shown to the audience. That is a detriment to the movie because it is in those themes where the kernel of a better movie rests within “Victor Frankenstein.”
McGuigan tried to make the movie feel like the Guy Richie version of “Sherlock Holmes” and did not succeed. Throughout the entirety of the film, you feel like you are watching a movie that is trying to be Richie’s “Holmes,” but ultimately feels like a lesser version of what it was trying to be. It feels like McGuigan was trying to make a Guy Richie film, and because of this I think that McGuigan focused on delivering the kind of movie that Richie would make rather than develop the thematics of the film he was making. In a way “Victor Frankenstein” is the Frankenstein’s Monster version of the film it could have, and should have been.
I did like McAvoy and Radcliffe. They were great in the movie and had excellent chemistry. Seeing them as Victor and Igor together was an entertaining buddy movie. It is a shame that the movie that surrounded them was not as entertaining to watch as the two of them together. Jessica Brown Findlay was good as Igor’s love interest, and she looked fantastic in the Victorian era costumes. Although, she was not needed in the movie.
“Victor Frankenstein” is the kernel of a better movie, that never pops because it is trying too hard to be something that it is not. As a side note there is one recurring thing in the film that I enjoyed. Igor says that if Victor goes through with creating his monster, the world will remember Frankenstein the monster and not Frankenstein the man. Which is true because 200 years after Mary Shelly published “Frankenstein” the world remembers Frankenstein as the monster and not as the man.