Gruesome, Dark, Somewhat Boring. Only Acting Keeps the Spark Alive

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            Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This glorious holiday is a day filled with turkey, football, family, and monsters. Wait did I just say monsters? Yes I did my friends. Although it is a holiday, movies do to take a break from premiering on the silver screen. My holiday movie assignment is a little unorthodox this year, and comes in the form of Frankenstein. The patchwork nightmare from Mary Shelly’s imagination has had many iterations, but Paul McGuigan has delivered us a movie that promises to be darker in tone. Today we cover Victor Frankenstein, headed by the dynamic duo of Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy.

 

The theme of this movie focuses on the Mary Shelley’s classic tale told through the eye of the assistant Igor. Radcliffe takes the lead in this origin story, as Igor is dragged into the world of 19th century scientific medicine and its unethical practices. The main plot of this film corresponds to the classic book, but Victor Frankenstein is laced with multiple subplots that provide some variety and character development. Almost all of these side stories are laced with darkness, many involving the obsessive pursuit of answers by immoral means. While the variety is a nice welcome some of these elements I felt were hastily pieced together and lacked the emotional fervor they were looking for. In addition the plot was also kind of boring, lacking the suspense and excitement I was hoping for. This was especially true in the horror element.

For a horror movie, Victor Frankenstein was not the scariest thing to grace theaters. Instead I felt it went more down the disturbing avenue. This is especially true of the visual effects and make-up, which were fantastic in this film. I was impressed when I saw organs and muscles pulsate and contract, in a high-definition shine that amplified the effect. The computer animation also was well done, blending into the live action with fluid transition and texture. This realism certainly establishes nightmare-inspiring moments, where festering creatures and a beefed up Lunk from Goonies roam about unbound by any rationality or restraint that mirror their creators’ desires. Even our human characters are not spared from inhumane torture and gore strewn injury that is truly skin crawling. I felt that some of these moments were a little over the top, and took too much focus from the story. Nevertheless, those with weak constitutions or religious zealots should avoid this tale.

For this reviewer, the acting was the best quality of this film. James McAvoy as the mad scientist was a fantastic pick by the casting director. The man continues to impress me with how he can juggle his characters emotions without crossing over into annoyance. McAvoy’s portrayal of insanity in voice work, facial expressions, and body language itself is first class. Daniel Radcliffe also doesn’t disappoint as Igor, committing to his character from the start by portraying the shuffling gait of the hunchback (not an easy task). Radcliffe’s charm was nice to see, which made for a likeable character that I could to root for in this miserable setting. As usual it’s the chemistry between the two that is the most impressive component. They played well off each other’s emotions, with a synergy that was dynamic, energetic, and somehow dark at the same time. I hope to see these two reunite for further films. Jessica Brown Findlay deserves some mention, for she provided the touch of elegance in this chaotic slew of science. Not only is she beautiful, but Findlay radiates the classiness of her character that commanded respect and provided a love story. Andrew Scott once more steps into the mad, obsessive role, though ironically plays an inspector this time around. Scott not only captures the mannerisms of the insane, but somehow adds that hint of uneasiness to really sell the part. If only he had been utilized a little more.

Victor Frankenstein is a movie that truly calls for those who love the dark and grotesque. The acting and special effects will immerse you into the world and deliver the realistic horrors you have been looking for. While I did enjoy the focus on Igor this time around, I have to say the movie wasn’t as suspenseful as I had hoped. This left me bored at times and waiting for the move to end. I cannot recommend this movie for a theater visit, but would encourage you to give a shot when it comes to RedBox.

 

My scores for this film are:

Drama/Horror: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

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