Tag Archives: Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein (2015)

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I’m not ordinarily a fan of re-imaginings of fairytale, historic events/figures or classic tales, but I was willing to give Victor Frankenstein a shot because it comes across as more like a fresh take using a different perspective as opposed to a complete butchering.

That perspective is Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), a former circus freak with a talent for science who ends up becoming the assistant of the titular mad scientist (Jamed McAvoy). The story is told through Igor’s eyes, and the focus of the film revolves around his relationship with his saviour and tormentor. The subplots include a love interest (Jessica Brown Findlay) and a police inspector (Andrew Scott) on their tail.

I’ve heard people say that the film, directed by Paul McGuigan (best known for TV work), tries to do to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein what Guy Ritchie did for Sherlock Holmes — a cooler, hipper, livelier version with a more postmodern feel. It’s an assessment I agree with, as Victor Frankenstein does have a similar look and vibe. The people and their surroundings all have that same grit and energy, and while Ritchie’s Holmes comes across as more action-adventure than mystery suspense thriller, the overall atmosphere of Victor Frankenstein is one that suggests more gothic fable than pure horror.

The result for me is a mixed bag. I’ll probably always love the Frankenstein story no matter how it is told, and I really bought into the relationship between the two central characters thanks to the stellar performances of Radcliffe and McAvoy. One is sympathetic and torn between loyalty and what he knows is wrong, while the other’s bipolar personality makes him a great anti-hero and villain. Though not quite Sherlock and Watson, I enjoyed their chemistry and shared their sense of wonder as they went about their morbid experiments.

On the other hand, despite the best of efforts, Victor Frankenstein never fully “comes to life”, so to speak. There were several nice surprises early on and some well-executed sequences along the way, though I ever felt any genuine fear from the horror nor thrills from the action. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it dull, but the experience definitely left me wanting more. It felt as though the start had set up a lot of enticing new possibilities, though as the story progressed towards the inevitable, everything starts veering in the direction of the predictable and mundane. The climax — and you probably have a good idea of what it is — as well as the ending can only be described as disappointing.

On the whole, Victor Frankenstein is a commendable effort but ultimately a forgettable affair amid the many Frankenstein adaptations to date. While there are elements that worked well, such as using Igor’s point of view and the chemistry between Radcliffe and McAvoy, there simply wasn’t enough imagination — especially in the second half — to breathe new life into the oft-told tale. Having said that, I’m still a sucker for Frankenstein and I enjoyed the movie for what it’s worth — solid entertainment with sufficient dashes of intrigue, drama, suspense, and the macabre. While it is by no means a great movie, it is far better than what its box office returns (US$34 million against a budget of US$40 million) and Rotten Tomatoes score (26%) suggests.

3 stars out of 5

Movie Review: I, Frankenstein (2014)

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I, Frankenstein, or as I liked to call it, I, Frankly-can’t-believe-Aaron-Eckhart-trained-6-months-for-this-shit, is already looking like a lock on my “worst films” list for 2014.

I knew it was not going to be a graphic-novel-to-film masterpiece, but I also had hopes that it would at least provide some solid popcorn entertainment. After all, Aaron Eckhart’s career trajectory has been on quite the upswing the last few years, and even though he’s made some questionable choices (such as Battle: Los Angeles, The Rum Diary and Olympus Has Fallen) over this period, none of his films have flat out sucked saggy scrotums — until now.

This should hardly come as a surprise. It’s hard enough to make a film about Mary Shelley’s classic novel (and we’ve seen some bad adaptations over the years). A film based on a comic that “re-imagines” that classic novel doesn’t really stand a chance. I, Frankenstein makes Van Helsing look clever.

The premise is this. Imagine if Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was not a novel but based on real events. Then imagine that Frankenstein’s monster, who is immortal, lives on after the events in the book for a couple of hundred years until the present day, and in the meantime learns to be a super awesome demon-fighting warrior. That’s basically it. Well, there’s actually also this long and convoluted back story about a secret war between gargoyles and demons, who want Frankenstein’s monster to unleash the secret to reanimating an army of corpses. I won’t lie; I was confused.

Anyhoo, the first problem with I, Frankenstein, apart from the silly plot, is that it’s kinda boring. Aaron Eckhart certainly tries, though the characters and the dialogue are so trite that it feels like watching bad cut scenes from a late 90s video game. They could have made light of the whole thing and turned it into a semi-comedy fuelled by sharp, witty comments, but everyone in it, including Eckhart, takes themselves so dead seriously that it saps all the fun out of the movie.

The second problem is that for a movie that depends on action to be watchable, the action sequences in I, Frankenstein are over-the-top (in a bad way) and lacking in creativity. Worst of all it’s all destroyed by extremely fake computer graphics that also remind me of late 90s video games. The gargoyles and demons looked like they were cut straight from an animated film and looked unrealistic even amid all the darkness and chaos.

Thirdly, turning Frankenstein’s monster into a superhero just doesn’t feel right. He’s supposed to be hideous — stitched up crudely from an assortment of corpses — but instead we get the chiselled features of Aaron Eckhart and his incredibly ripped body with a few lame scars across his face and body. It’s almost blasphemous.

Speaking of Aaron Eckhart, I was appalled to learn that he trained 6 months for the role. He worked out daily, trained in Parkour and Kali stick fighting and followed a strict diet, all so he could have a about 2 minutes of extremely average-looking fight sequences plus 3 seconds of a topless shot. You can’t fault the dude for his dedication, but boy, it’s hard to envisage a bigger waste of time than that.

All the other performances from a cast dominated by Aussies were fairly uninspired. Bill Nighy plays the villain, and you can tell he’s happy with the cheque but not having much fun. Yvonne Strahovski from Dexter plays a scientist and love interest, while Jai Courtney, Miranda Otto and Caitlin Stasey (from Tomorrow, When the War Began) play gargoyles. Everyone looks embarrassed to be there.

The only positive I can point out is that the film was made in Melbourne, which I suppose demonstrates that Australia is capable of making a relatively major Hollywood blockbuster. It’s just unfortunate that the film they ended up making was I, Frankenstein.

1.5 stars out of 5