Whether you call Victor Frankenstein a hybrid, an origin story, a prequel, a spin-off, this loosely stitched together monster mash-up is an epic disaster. With options like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 , Brooklyn, and The Good Dinosaur, it’s hard to imagine anyone would actively seek out seeing Victor Frankenstein. However, if you’re hard up for a gothic monster movie, let me break down why you would be better off setting your money on fire.
Director Paul McGuigan has managed to bring a rich source material (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) and reduced it too choppy action sequences, over the top Gothic Imagery, and jokey one-liners – which is enough to raise a disgusted Mary Shelley from the dead. James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe both are gifted actors, but they don’t breathe life into this menagerie of failure. McAvoy’s (Victor Frankenstein) portrayal is all one-note swagger – with a bit of wounded heart). Radcliffe switches from recovering victim to providing commentary about Frankenstein making an “Unholy Creation” (a tepid lean towards Mary Shelley’s original story). Both portrayals lack any creditability that the film desperately needs to flourish, but I’m not sure either actor is to blame. Sometimes, an actor is only as good as the script provides.
One can’t help but wonder what would possess 20th Century Fox to hire Max Landis to write Victor Frankenstein. Landis’ writing style is more helter-skelter than anything consistent with the genre-specific writing needed for any retelling of the Frankenstein fable. In short, it makes no sense to turn Frankenstein into some comedic film. I’m not sure exactly what Landis was even thinking when he wrote this script (just like I was confused about American Ultra). Maybe they were going for something different with this version, but it didn’t work.
McGuigan and Landis jointly felt this version of the Frankenstein story needed to be told from Igor’s perspective. Why? Logic would dictate that, by changing the perspective of the story, it would add something. All that changing perspective does, in this case, is lead us to a circus outside of London, where the audience is supposed to buy that Igor is this medical genius hunchback clown who lives in a cage. Even if the audience can wrap their collective heads around that, we now have to deal with the idea that Victor Frankenstein just happens to be at the circus and rescues Igor while using an array of martial art moves. If you can get past those two huge contrivances, then we just have to accept that Igor is willing to go along Victor’s idea (remember, he doesn’t even know him) to illuminate the dead. If you can handle all these insurmountable stretches in logic, then Victor Frankenstein might actually be perfect for you.
Victor Frankenstein is what we all thought it would be: a one note waste of your time. Nothing about this movie clicks; it’s a collection of different films that have been forced together for the purposes of creating something special, which is oddly similar to the classic Frankenstein story this film is meant to dramatize. Much like the Frankenstein story, however, this movie is an experiment gone awry.