“What you’re doing is wrong.”
In essence, there is little convention to the Frankenstein story or its mythology. Creating life from death should be spectacular, controversial, and dazzling. Victor Frankenstein is just the latest lifeless and insubstantial incarnation of the monster, putting on display the great ease by which many tell Mary Shelley’s tale, as well as the lapses in logic and originality they suffer along the way. We don’t need an origin story to the Promethean inspiration. We shouldn’t have to look upon indistinguishable set designs. We will not withstand such tremendous efforts at over acting and reacting. From the intro it feels inviting enough to give Victor Frankenstein the benefit of the doubt. At least until it begs you to strap it to a board, crank the amps past 11, and electrocute some hate into its heart, thus pumping it with a little bit of something rather than nothing.
This kind of movie doesn’t need a director and has an uncanny resemblance to other horrendous homages to the Universal Horror Monster era: Van Helsing, The Wolfman, Dracula Untold, and even the slightly underrated The Mummy. Like those, this knock-off doesn’t have a creative voice. Victor Frankenstein goes for schlock and shtick rather than shock and awe. Told from the perspective of the hunchbank assistant, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) is a carnival circus freak, and frankly, that’s about it. The film desecrates the genre, and itself, never adhering to the necessity of character developments for us to give a rat’s ass about anyone. Radcliffe plays the role with admiration – why else would he take this gig – but like the rest of the awkwardly stitched together story it all feels how you’d imagine a quilted shroud rather than a seamless blanket. Victor Frankenstein, by most accounts, is not a horrible movie to start. But it fails to rise above the routine before submerging beneath the stupid.
Igor, a human animal hitched at the hip, climbs the social ladder from freak to assistant after being saved by Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy). Igor is no intellectual slouch though, and his quick wit and whipcrack smarts become the crucial missing element to further the experiments of the studying medical student. Their relationship is not a bromance, or a partnership, or even friendship. Chemistry can be seen even if the unfounded camaraderie is not. Radcliffe and McAvoy try their damnedest in a script suffering through extensive labor without the fruits of the work. Victor Frankenstein lulls itself into suicidally softcore action porn, practicing and attempting to thwart or provoke its own undoing while disregarding the possibility of hostile unrest. Not even 1.21 Gigawatts could send this to a time where it could be deemed or considered worthwhile.
Written by fanboy Max Landis, Victor Frankenstein is the birthchild of a twisted mind. Many thought Landis would be a breakout talent following his first script Chronicle (a vastly overrated movie.) Landis is 30, eccentric, and effectively off-putting because, if you’ve ever seen him in an interview, he gives off the impression that he knows so much. However, some people can be effectively communicative and convincing through forthright conversation, and even though he obviously cares about cinema and geek culture, Landis’ writing becomes more of an assumption based off of one middling credit rather than his own heralded scholarship. Frankenstein may be the monster, but to that I would argue Landis is the troll, somehow continuing to persuade people to produce his scripts when they are so matted down and toilsome that not even a Dyson could suck them up. Victor Frankenstein is a detached period piece before turning about-face and becoming a literal monstrosity of a film. Landis could probably even tell you why, but at this point, each word must be taken with two grains of salt, a slice of lime, and a double shot of bottom shelf tequila. Guess which one would lead to a more honest hangover?
“History will bury you, Frankenstein. And no man will remember your name.”
Rating: 1 out of 5