There is something about the story of Frankenstein’s monster that really appeals to film makers. It has been a tale that has been told time and time again. In the last two years, there has been three films (of which this is one) taking the basic story and re-inventing it for a modern audience. The results have been mixed, to say the least. With its unique view of the scientist and his assistant, can Victor Frankenstein find its place?
Told from the point of view of the hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe), the film tells the tale of how Igor got his name and how he met and started to work in partnership with Victor Frankenstein. Igor is a clown in the circus and is treated like an animal by the owners. He has a keen mind and takes great interest in medicine and anatomy. After an accident in the big top he meets Frankenstein who manages to get him away from his captors. Frankenstein sees a kindred spirit and between them they set out to work on forcing life into the dead. With Police looking at their activities and the uncertainty of their endeavors what could possibly go wrong.
The film doesn’t take itself totally seriously. It is an overblown and quite comedic in places. The two leads certainly have a good time in their roles. James McAvoy in the role of the mad scientist relishes the chance to give an over the top scene chewing performance. He is larger than life in his ways which I suppose is the point. In order to create life, he must be more. Radcliffe’s performance is a little more nuanced. His character has more of a journey in his transformation from Hunchback to upper class gentleman. He literally has to stand up straight in order for his character to change.
The leads have a great on-screen chemistry which helps the movie to move along without the audience getting bogged down in some of the more obvious plot points. The script enables them to have several memorable scenes where they play off against each other.
Director Paul McGuigan pretty much keeps the whole thing together and is able to blend the action sequences with the more dramatic, comedic and romantic elements of the story. The action scenes are well handled taking full advantage of the Victorian setting and the steam and electric driven technology of the time. There are numerous sets with crackling electrodes and static providing a nod to the 1930’s horror films. There is also a sly wink to Mel Brooks Young Frankenstein at one point.
It is a refreshing change to have the story seen from Igor’s point of view. With this, we see the more human side of the character and his hopes and desires. It also gives the character of Frankenstein a slightly different slant. He is perceived not so much a being the mad scientist, more of a fully committed visionary who is haunted by his past. It makes him a character of more depth and therefor a bit more interesting for it.
Overall, a bit of a daft movie but entertaining nonetheless.