Sunday, 13 December 2015

Out Now - Victor Frankenstein

When I first saw the trailers for this film I was excited, it looked like a cool take on the Frankenstein story starting two actors I like a lot; Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. When the first lot of reviews came in they were pretty poor, at least the US critics while in the UK it has been getting more favourable write up's. So I ended up going in not sure what to expect, I could end up hating it or loving it, and I'm happy to say that it's the latter.

So this film is a retelling of the Frankenstein story from the point of view of his sidekick Igor, this time around he isn't a poorly educated assistant to the mad Doctor but an equal partner and friend. This is one of the best part's of the film as Daniel Radcliffe's Igor and James McAvoy's Frankenstein play off each other fantastically and the friendship between these characters as well as the mutual respect they have for each other really shines through, something even the poor reviews seem to agree on. One scene that stands out is when Frankenstein shows Igor an early experiment, and while impressed Igor points out a mistake the Doctor made, many films would have had the Doctor be angry but instead he is over joyed to see that Igor was intelligent enough to spot it.

These version's of the characters are a bit different to what we have come to expect, McAvoy's Frankenstein is a mad eccentric medical student, loud, full of energy and possibly drunk, often neglecting his studies in favour of his own experiments. He is a man that seems to find the mundane life of those around him boring and is completely obsessed with his work, but there is depth to him as we learn his backstory and why he feels he must create life. Igor, a character who for decades has been modelled on Fritz from the 1931 film is a very different character here, though he starts off as a circus clown once he teams up with Frankenstein it's revealed he is not hunchback, a fluid build up in his back has giving him the appearance of one, something the Doctor treats right away. Igor is also very intelligent, having self taught himself about anatomy and the human body from books and it's a demonstration of his knowledge that drawn Frankenstein to him. Both leads play their parts well, playing off each other fantastically and are a joy to watch.

The rest of the cast is on fine form too with Jessica Brown Findlay as Igor's love interest Lorelei, Freddie Fox as fellow medical student Finnegan, and Andrew Scott as a Scotland Yard Inspector who wants to bring Frankenstein down as he believes his creations are the devils work. Charles Dance and Mark Gatiss also have small roles in the film.  You can tell everyone was just having a blast on set.

Another thing I love about this film is its production design, from the circus where Frankenstein first meets Igor to the fantastic almost steam-punk looking lab sets, this film has a great look and I was especially impressed with the grimy streets of early nineteenth century London, which could of looked grey and boring but instead bursted from the screen with large colourful billboards and crowds of people everywhere you look. I'm a big fan of the ascetics of this time period and they look fantastic here.

The plot is where my opinion on the film wavers a bit, while there is a lot to like and some great ideas such as showing us Frankenstein's early creations, there are a few bits that I feel could have been improved on. The film opens showing up Igor's life in the circus where he is treated very badly by almost everyone around him, I enjoyed these scenes but they are over very quickly as he meets Frankenstein and escapes about ten minutes into the film. I would have enjoyed more time spent here especially in relation to Lorelei, whom he tells us through narration is the only person at the circus to be kind to him, but we don't really see this and it's not until later in the film when they meet up again that she has any substantial dialogue. There is also a character who takes a villainous turn latter in the film that pushes the plot forward briefly but doesn’t amount to much in the end, though perhaps it didn't need to. But to be fair these are small issues I have with what is a very fun film.

The film also contains references to may other Frankenstein films, such as the Universal films and even Young Frankenstein gets a nod, screen writer Max Landis is clearly a fan of this story and wanted to work that love into this script.  There is also some clear inspiration taken from Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes but this film is still its own beast.

I must admit when I came out the cinema I was so so on the film and wasn't sure if I would recommend it or not, but thinking back the stuff I liked far outweighs the stuff I didn't and I had a lot of fun watching this one. So yes I do recommend this film, it's good fun, a dark campy film with a slick style and seance of humour.

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