Victor Frankenstein (2015) – reviewed by George

Surprising that a story so well-known could be tweaked and made so suspenseful. Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor and James McAvoy plays Victor, and the fact that this is really Igor’s version of the story is recognized by Daniel getting top billing.
Igor (though he is not called that yet) is a clown in a circus, beaten for laughs and disrespected outside the ring. He is a clown with a real hunchback, but he is also a healer, not only of illnesses requiring nostrums, but also of broken bones, and so on. He has a nice collection of medical tomes to read when he’s alone, which is all the time he’s not in the ring. One night the aerialist he adores from afar, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), falls, and a broken collarbone is stifling her breathing. Calls for a doctor in the house bring Victor, and when he says get her to a hospital, but she won’t live if we can’t get there quickly, Igor saves her right there in the sawdust. Victor is very impressed and helps Igor escape the circus, and go to work for him, building a homunculus out of parts from dead animals, chiefly chimpanzees. Victor calls the homunculus “Gordon”. Victor also has a thought or two about Igor’s hunchback, and the men become friends.
In addition to the three leads, who all do remarkable work, we have Andrew Scott (Moriarty from the Cumberbatch/Freeman “Sherlock” films) playing Inspector Turpin of Scotland Yard, whose fundamentalism and complete confidence in his views as the only correct ones, lead him to ignore normal (read “legal”) police procedure in order to stop Victor and Igor from the “devil’s work”. Scott does an excellent job in an unsympathetic part (I wanted so badly for him to die!).
As a fully realized man with feelings and convictions, Igor is the moral compass of the movie and is a nice contrast to Turpin’s raging prejudices. When he and Victor retreat to a Scottish castle to animate a man, they think they are totally prepared for any eventuality.  Well, the best laid plans etc. The “man” to be awakened is certainly impressive, and the lightning storm is wonderful, but the thing you haven’t thought of can still undo man’s finest efforts. And Turpin is not 100% wrong about this particular effort.
Directed by Paul McGuigan from a story and screenplay by Max Landis, and with music by Craig Armstrong, this is a fine “Frankenstein” for the new century.

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