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Reimagining of Frankenstein is shrill, patchy and underwhelming

MoviesBy Esther McCarthy
Victor Frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein

A STARRY CAST is wasted in director Paul McGuigan’s take on Mary Shelley’s much-loved tale set in the early 19th century.

Those involved gamely try to bring something new to the table but fall well short of breathing new life into this popular story.

Told from the perspective of Dr Frankenstein’s talented assistant, Igor, the film centres on the relationship between the two men as they attempt to create life using groundbreaking but macabre scientific methods.

Played by Radcliffe, Igor is a talented scientist who has the misfortune to be imprisoned by a travelling circus because his hunched back is seen as a novelty.

When his friend Lorelei (Brown Findlay) is seriously injured during a trapeze performance, both fall under the radar of Victor (McAvoy), a man obsessed with his ambition to create new life (first animal, eventually human) by assembling body parts.

Fixated with his plans, he aids Igor’s escape on condition he helps him realise his ultimate goal – to create a fully fledged human being using science,
machinery and body parts.

It’s not long before the duo’s ambitions land them in trouble with the aut-
horities. Top cop Roderick Turpin (Scott), a devout Catholic with strong feelings on creationism, is especially disturbed by Victor’s plans and
determined to bring him down.

It’s an ambitious new take on a well-told story, but there are
several problems in its execution.

Daniel Radcliffe is a fine young actor, and the best thing about this film, but he feels miscast as Igor, while the performance by McAvoy – usually so good in every role he plays – feels shrill and over the top.

Yes, we know Victor is meant to be barking mad, but there’s no need to hammer it home to audiences in every scene.

Even Irish actor Scott gets to deliver little more than ‘Mori-arty-lite’ in a tamed-down version of his Sherlock villain, while Brown Findlay looks beautiful but is given nothing to work with.

The most disappointing performance of all?

That of the underwhelming monster. When we eventually, finally, get to see the creation, he’s so overdone in CGI that the entire scene feels like an anti-climax. An ambitious but flawed effort.

Victor Frankenstein (12A) 2/5 STARS