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Movie Review – Victor Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein is a new envisioning of the Mary Shelley’s classic, with the biggest change being that the story is moved to Victorian London and the main character is Igor, rather than Dr. Frankenstein or the monster.

Short version – A really good movie that takes a fresh look at a story that’s been done before.  I recommend it, but don’t go looking for a movie that’s only a drama, horror, comedy, thriller, or action flick.

Long version – (Some spoilers ahead)

In this rendition, Igor, played by Daniel Radcliffe, is a self-taught genius at medicine and anatomy, who is discovered in a London circus by the eponymous Victor Frankenstein, played by James McAvoy.  Frankenstein takes Igor in, polishes him up, and harnesses his genius in his experiments.  The pair is pursued by Scotland Yard’s Inspector Turpin, played by Andrew Scott, who is obsessed with catching Frankenstein and stopping his diabolical experiments.  Igor’s love interest, Lorelei, is played by Jessica Brown Findlay, who does an outstanding job acting as Igor’s conscience.

The change in setting from 17th Century Germany to 19th Century Great Britain worked quite well.  Frankenstein goes from being an obsessed German intellectual to being a quintessential Victorian manic genius.  The sets seem to be right out of a historical essay of Industrial Revolution London, and the costumes were extremely well done.  Combine these with its outstanding acting, and that portion of the premise is easy to swallow.

The part where Igor is a nameless freak in a circus who is able to teach himself to read and to practice medicine is, well, not as easy.  It’s just something you have to accept in order to let the rest of the movie happen.

This movie is hard to categorize.  It is dramatic without being a drama, funny at places, but not a comedy.  It is suspenseful but is not a thriller, and has a few thrilling scenes, but is not an action movie.  Taken with its ill-timed release (Thanksgiving versus Halloween), and I’m afraid it will suffer when put up against a strong slate of movies released during this holiday season.

Shelley’s original “There are things man is not supposed to dabble in” theme comes through very strongly, but another theme, that of orthodox religion versus science, is also laid on quite thickly.  Inspector Turpin is devoutly, almost obsessively, religious, while Frankenstein is equally convinced that science will prove more powerful.  Frankenstein is an unethical, dedicated genius, one of the most dangerous things I can imagine, and he is not above breaking laws, morals, and taboos to get what he wants.  Turpin, on the other hand, seems to oppose any thought that goes against his personal beliefs and morals, and doggedly pursues Frankenstein.

Overall, I’d give Victor Frankenstein a B+ or a low A.  It’s definitely an enjoyable movie that forces the viewer to think.




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