High school drama class creates a Monster.

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

“You may have seen this story before” Daniel Radcliffe’s character narrates to us within the opening; and indeed we have, for as much as Victor Frankenstein attempts to be different, it’s unfortunately let down by a poor script that quickly descends into mediocrity.

Victor Frankenstein begins within a circus, as our resident hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) does his best Elephant Man impression. A slave to this freakshow and regularly abused by the troupe, yet somehow this has inexplicably transformed him into a genius of the medical profession (sigh).

When high-flying trapeze artist - and love interest of Radcliffe - Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) takes a tumble during the show, audience member Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) notices the hunchbacks’ nuanced skills in the medical field as he proceeds to save her life. Intrigued, Victor sets afoot a plan to free the captive, a plan which unfortunately the circus troupe don’t take kindly to, chasing the pair as they flee for their lives to freedom.

Now safe at Victor’s home and lab, he instantly gets to work ‘curing’ the hunchback of his ailments and bestowing him the name of his currently vacant roommate, Igor - yep that’s right, it turns out Igor isn’t a hunchback at all, just the victim of a pus-filled sac that has been left unchecked - with a giant syringe and a corsette, Igor is instantly back to his usual Harry Potter self albeit with longer hair (sigh… movies).

Hot on the trail of the duo though, is god-fearing Inspector Turpin (Andrew Scott) who has been investigating the robbery of various animal parts, suspecting the two events are related and the results potentially horrific. And he’s correct of course, as our iconic duo first work bringing life into an animal chimera and then into the eventual humanoid Monster (Spencer Wilding) that we all know.

I’d have forgiven him if this was a high school drama performance, but as a "professional actor" Daniel Radcliffe does himself no favours with this outright amateur performance, all of his scenes oozing of a person clearly uncomfortable in character, playing the worst kind of pretend - it’s jarring in practically every scene he is in - which is unfortunate. This is made even worse when comparatively James McAvoy's performance is too good for the material he is given, creating a sense of him being emotionally unhinged and over the top.

This Paul McGuigan helmed creation plays out exactly as you assume, with small notes of details being added to the Mary Shelley novel we have all come to know - the results is a chimera of a filmic monster that would make Victor Frankenstein himself proud in its failure, with weak work across the board.

That’s not to say it’s all bad, there are some quite beautiful scenes that really do well to recreate the victorian era and some notable nods to the original Frankenstein movies of past. It even works well with certain visual effects, such as medical overlays of moving biology that help anoint that creative genius Frankenstein and Igor exude, for the audience to perceive - providing an almost Sherlock Holmes quality.

Victor Frankenstein is definitely not a must-see film by any means - especially on the big screen. If you are a fan of the lore then it might be worth a look when it eventually releases in a home movie format or on demand with Netflix. Whilst a few novel ideas have been injected into an already well-trodden story, it’s unfortunately let down by poor to downright absurd writing and performances.

Victor Frankenstein is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD via Amazon or on-demand via Amazon Video.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    12th December 2015

  • 2 Out of 5 Stars
  • Daniel Radcliffe's performance

    Poor script as it progresses

  • Some visual effects

    Attempts to be different

Film Info

Victor Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein
Rating: 12A
Release Date: 4th December
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Director: Paul McGuigan
Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Freddie Fox & Spencer Wilding

  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
  • I, Frankenstein
  • Frankenstein

No, although there isn't a lot of violence there are a lot of scenes involving dismembered body parts.

Victor Frankenstein director Paul McGuigan also directed 4 episodes of the British, Sherlock series.