Vic­tor franken­stein

Mon­ster mush

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - News -

Per­haps should have stayed dead.

re­leased 11 April 2015 | 12 | Blu- ray/ DVD

Di­rec­tor Paul McGuigan

Cast Daniel Rad­cliffe, James McAvoy,

Jes­sica Brown Find­lay, An­drew Scott

Mary Shel­ley’s genre-catalysing clas­sic work of lit­er­a­ture has been given the elec­trode re­birth treat­ment so many times through the years that any new take needs to of­fer some­thing truly fresh, or it’ll come off smelling rot­ten and burned to a crisp. Sadly, de­spite boast­ing a promis­ing cre­ative team on both sides of the cam­era, Vic­tor Franken­stein must un­for­tu­nately sham­ble off to a place among the tar­nished, the stink­ing and the lack­lus­tre.

It was all so full of prom­ise, with Daniel Rad­cliffe, who’s found in­ter­est­ing work in his post- Pot­ter ca­reer, paired with James McAvoy, some­one who usu­ally de­liv­ers sparky, en­gaged per­for­mances. Bolt on a script from Chron­i­cle’s Max Lan­dis, no stranger to putting a new spin on seem­ingly well­worn con­cepts, and add the eye of Paul McGuigan, a di­rec­tor of mixed suc­cess on the big screen who’s earned hefty praise for TV’s Sher­lock... Surely to­gether they can cook up some­thing of a post­mod­ern Prometheus? The an­swer, re­gret­tably, is no.

McAvoy and Rad­cliffe give it their all, try­ing to make in­vig­o­rat­ing ver­sions of Vic­tor Franken­stein ( a typ­i­cally wild in­tel­lec­tual brought low by his own am­bi­tions) and as­sis­tant Igor ( his hunched back quickly solved in this in­stance), who meet un­ex­pect­edly and form a dan­ger­ous part­ner­ship. Yet the tweaks to their char­ac­ters – par­tic­u­larly Rad­cliffe’s Igor, who starts as a cir­cus freak who’s also taught him­self anatomy – feel like they’ve barely moved past the first new idea or two, and rarely seem to blend with the film’s other no­tions. There’s a real grab- bag of con­cepts on dis­play here: Franken­stein has daddy is­sues; the duo’s early ex­per­i­ments with a chim­panzee make a stab at broad com­edy; and the cal­cu­lat­ing, pi­ous po­lice in­spec­tor ( An­drew “Mo­ri­arty” Scott, ini­tially di­alling down the cackle in favour of but­toned- down) wants to chan­nel the usual pitch­fork­wield­ing vil­lagers. It just. Doesn’t. Work. Vic­tor Franken­stein is nei­ther as fun as it seems to think it is, nor as se­ri­ous as it in­tends to be dur­ing the pre­dictably mon­strous cli­max.

Talk­ing of Scott, McGuigan’s stylis­tic choices mean this ini­tially feels like a Sher­lock spin- off – all whizzy graph­i­cal over­lays for the Sci­ence Bits and the way the ti­tle char­ac­ter is in­tro­duced. The show’s cast are also dot­ted about, with Mark Gatiss ( My­croft), Louise Brealey ( Molly) and An­drew Petrie ( who guest- starred in one episode) all show­ing up. If you were to play a drink­ing game about peo­ple or ideas bor­rowed from Sher­lock dur­ing the early parts of the film, you’d be slur­ring your words af­ter half an hour.

All in­volved clearly wanted to make it work more smoothly than it does, but they just can’t seem to

As missed op­por­tu­ni­ties go, one of the big­gest of last year

find the right spark. Lan­dis’s script largely gives Rad­cliffe and McAvoy ham to chew on, and when you throw in nods to bet­ter ver­sions of the story, such as James Whale’s 1931 ef­fort and Mel Brooks’s Young

Franken­stein ( lis­ten out for some­one mis- pro­nounc­ing the doc­tor’s name), you’re only go­ing to pale in com­par­i­son. And when the script tries to shoe­horn in real emo­tion and ex­plore Vic­tor’s drives, it sits un­easily with all the wack­i­ness, com­ing across as sen­ti­men­tal and false. Plus, de­spite an ob­vi­ous yearn­ing to be as ac­tive and mod­ern- feel­ing as, say, Guy Ritchie’s Sher­lock Holmes, the film gives the likes of Jes­sica Brown Find­lay ( who plays Igor’s acro­bat love in­ter­est, Lorelei) noth­ing to do. By the time it rushes to the big, ef­fects- laden con­clu­sion, you’ll have ceased car­ing.

What does work? Well, some of the pro­duc­tion de­sign is im­pres­sive, with the doc­tor’s lab par­tic­u­larly funky, full of gears and sci­en­tific equip­ment. But even that’s let down by the fact that the Lon­don back­grounds are murky mud­dles, and rarely look like a good use of CG. Scott is largely good value, and Charles Dance makes an im­pact in a small yet piv­otal role. But as missed op­por­tu­ni­ties go, this was one of the big­gest to hit cinema screens last year – fail­ing to come alive de­spite ev­ery­thing its dif­fer­ent parts brought to it.

Ex­tras A Mak­ing Of and photo gal­leries of pro­duc­tion de­signs and on- set pho­tog­ra­phy feel like the least they could have done – and they did. The Blu- ray re­lease adds an as­sort­ment of deleted scenes ( 14 min­utes). James White

The name of Vic­tor’s brother, Henry, is a nod to the name of the doc­tor in 1931’ s clas­sic film adap­ta­tion.

The hos­pi­tal’s new clean­ers were rub­bish.

“This rice pud­ding hasn’t worked!”

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