This week’s big DVD release is a disappointing re-imagining of one of the most famous horror novels in the English language – it’s Victor Frankenstein.
James McAvoy takes on the role of Frankenstein but rather than focussing solely on him, this effort gives joint top-billing to his lackey Igor, played by Daniel Radcliffe. The movie starts off with the two meeting at a circus performance in London.
At this point Igor isn’t Igor; he’s a nameless hunchback who has been enslaved by a cruel ringmaster. The young medical student Frankenstein feels sorry for his plight and, impressed by his unlikely, encyclopaedic knowledge of human anatomy, endeavours to free him.
Frankenstein sorts out the hump and gives Radcliffe’s character the name Igor before the pair of them get to work on creating new life.
In doing so the pair have to battle with religious policemen, unscrupulous toffs and Frankenstein’s growing obsession.
Overall it’s a pretty turgid affair. The steampunk visuals fall into the kind of overworked pop-goth category which seems designed for dour-faced adolescents. The script is similarly bad, stuffed full of Hollywood cliché and a garbled mix of pseudo-science and philosophy.
It would be nigh on impossible for McAvoy and Radcliffe to do anything noteworthy with such gibberish, but they give it a good go. The silliness of their overacting, and that of the rest of the cast, adds a bit of unintentional fun to the proceedings but it’s not enough to redeem the film.
This is a story which has been done countless times, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse effort. Promoting Igor to a key player in the story was a potentially interesting move but for a film about the perils of science the lack of chemistry is devastating.
It all just misses the vital spark that might have prevented the film from falling flat. Frankenstein may well make the proclamation “it’s alive!” but based on the evidence of this film, those signs of life are weak and fading fast.