(director/writer: Paul McGuigan; screenwriter: Max Landis/based on the Mary Shelly novel; cinematographer: Fabian Wagner; editors: Charlie Phillips, Andrew Hulme; music: Craig Armstrong; cast: James McAvoy (Victor Frankenstein), Daniel Radcliffe (Igor Strausman), Jessica Brown Findlay(Lorelei), Andrew Scott (Inspector Turpin), Freddie Fox (Finnegan ), Charles Dance (Mr. Frankenstein, Victor’s dad), Daniel Mays (Barnaby), Callum Turner (Alistair), Bronson Webb (Rafferty), Robin Pearce (Baron Bomine), Alistair Petrie (Chief Inspector), Spencer Wilding (Nathaniel/(Prometheus), Guillaume Delaunay (Prometheus); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: John Davis; 20th Century Fox; 2015)

An unneeded shallow adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic, trying desperately but unsuccessfully to put a new spin on the familiar Gothic story.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An unneeded shallow adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic, trying desperately but unsuccessfully to put a new spin on the familiar Gothic story. The mad scientist story is told through the eyes of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), the right-hand man of the scientist title character Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy). Igor has a humpback caused by an abscess that’s removed by Frankenstein, which radically changes his appearance. He is an intelligent but abused circus clown in London, whose medical talents are noticed by the brilliant Frankenstein when he saves the life of Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) without medical equipment. She’s a beautiful trapeze artist, who fell from the high rope during her act. The unnamed freak flees from the circus and gets reborn living with his wealthy genius benefactor, and is named Igor, after the doctor’s late assistant. Igor is put to work to help Frankenstein make death a temporary thing. For most of the cheeky film we go along with Frankenstein’s obsession to create the perfect man from assorted animal parts. But it never reaches the same powerful moments as the original James Whale Frankenstein (1931), as it turns into just another middling mad scientist film. Even the romance between Igor and Lorelei never catches fire, even though it’s set up to be a major sub plot. Its chaotic finale continues to miss the mark and leaves this modern horror tale as a big disappointment. Paul McGuigan (“Lucky Number Slevin”/”Push”) is good at the visuals covering life in Victorian London, but not so good at the storytelling. McAvoy in a manic way channels his character’s chilling craziness, but his character is too violent to be a sympathetic one. Max Landis, the son of John, writes the screenplay, seemingly trying to say something precious about monsters, but is unable to. One of the main villains is the snooty wealthy businessman played by Freddie Fox, who has no scruples trying to get richer off a new unethical technology he backs. Andrew Scott is the damaged-goods Scotland Yard lead investigator, who is dogged in his pursuit of the scientist but is betrayed by his rigid conservative religious beliefs. Charles Dance has one scene where he admonishes his madman son for soiling the family name of Frankenstein, and is good at it.

Victor Frankenstein

REVIEWED ON 7/18/2017 GRADE: C+-