Creak­ing at the seams

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS -

VIC­TOR FRANKEN­STEIN ★★ Di­rected by Paul McGuigan. Star­ring James McAvoy, Daniel Rad­cliffe, Jes­sica Brown Findlay, An­drew Scott, Fred­die Fox, Charles Dance, Daniel Mays, Cal­lum Turner. 12A cert, gen release, 110 min

I’ll say this for Vic­tor Franken­stein: it’s bet­ter than last year’s I, Franken­stein. Then again, if you threw ran­dom dis­in­terred body parts at the screen you’d end up with some­thing more watch­able than that un­happy project. What we have here (I’m guess­ing) is an at­tempt to bring the per­sonal dy­nam­ics of Sher­lock to the much-filmed story of a man and his mon­ster.

Daniel Rad­cliffe’s Igor – whose hunch­back proves cur­able – has the same eyes-of-the au­di­ence bland­ness as the av­er­age Dr Watson. To say that James McAvoy is “chan­nelling” Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch as the ti­tle char­ac­ter would be to in­dulge in near-le­gal­is­tic sophistry.

His ec­cen­tric ge­nius leads him to be­have dis­grace­fully at for­mal gath­er­ings. He is for­ever slap­ping his head when hap­pen­ing upon one of many fan­tas­tic rev­e­la­tions. He races about the place as if try­ing to dis­tract him­self from haem­or­rhoids.

None of this “bor­row­ing” (will that do, m’lud?) would mat­ter much if the sur­round­ing pack­age were more at­trac­tive. Max Lan­dis’s script cob­bles to­gether a far­rago of cod psy­chol­ogy and makeshift back­story to prop up a plot that never finds any co­he­sive di­rec­tion. We first meet Igor work­ing as a mis­used clown in a cir­cus. Vic­tor dis­cov­ers that the un­for­tu­nate fel­low has been read­ing medicine in his spare time and in­vites him to col­lab­o­rate in the doc­tor’s com­puter-gen­er­ated, steam­punk gar­ret. The story then flails in all di­rec­tions – Jes­sica Brown Findlay is a puz­zling love in­ter­est; An­drew Scott is a re­li­gious cop­per; Charles Dance is Vic­tor’s un­for­giv­ing fa­ther – be­fore fi­nally en­coun­ter­ing a square-headed crea­ture that looks more like Dave Prowse in The Hor­ror of Franken­stein than the clas­sic Boris Karloff in­car­na­tion.

To be fair, there are some nice touches. An early ape ex­per­i­ment is ac­cept­ably hor­ri­ble. The Vic­to­rian am­bi­ence is lav­ishly re­alised.

But Vic­tor Franken­stein ul­ti­mately comes across as a bloated ex­er­cise in (apolo­gies) op­por­tunis­tic grave rob­bing. Add the film to the dis­turbingly long list of dread­ful adap­ta­tions of a source that de­serves bet­ter.

DON­ALD CLARKE

Mis­used clown: Daniel Rad­cliffe as Igor in Vic­tor Franken­stein

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