Recently David and I decided to watch Victor Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. I remember watching the trailers and being intrigued, but also remember that it did not receive a great response when it came out. At the same time I really love the main actors so was willing to give it a shot. There is a part of me that feels that there was a good movie hidden in there somewhere, but it could not decide what story it wanted to tell. That means that it just ended up kind of frenetic, which in some ways fits with the personality that was given to Victor Frankenstein, but still just felt odd.
Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy
So the reason to watch this is to watch Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy. Even though the story of the movie is all over the place the actors do a good job of portraying their characters. Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor a savant who has taught himself to draw. He starts out as a hunchback circus performer, but then he meets up with Victor Frankenstein as played by James McAvoy. James McAvoy is brilliant as Frankenstein an over the top genius who becomes blind to whether he should do something and is more concerned about whether he can. Both actors do a good job at portraying their characters and they do a good job with the very little that they are given.
Part of the overall problem with the plot is that it cannot decide what it wants to be. Is it the story of Igor joining up with Frankenstein and leaving his life in the circus behind him or is it the story of the madman Frankenstein going to any lengths to create life due to his obsession with finding balance? Then again is it a movie about the real relationship between Igor and Frankenstein. One a man who came from nothing with undiscovered genius that appreciates every moment of life to another who comes from untold riches trying desperately to correct past mistakes. Then there is also the story of the science versus religion where Victor’s illegal activities take the notice of a detective who will stop at nothing to stop the work of what he views as an abomination. Throughout the entire movie it keeps switching the focus. It is almost like in the middle of filming they decided they wanted to take it a different direction and instead of starting over they just started heading that direction.
In the end what this means is that plots that seem to have a start never quite come to their conclusion or they end up with reference to a plot point that we ourselves never got. There is one scene in particular where Igor and Victor are having a touching moment and it almost felt like there should have been a previous conversation that had occurred earlier in the movie to lead to this point that was never included.
Besides some of the indecision points it is also the fact that they do not seem to continue on one path from scene to scene even. There is often a disconnect from how characters got from point A to point D, sometimes feeling like we skipped B and C entirely. The feeling comes off a little jarring to the audience and lends itself to the movie having a sort of frenetic pace. At the same time this alone might not be bad because the way Frankenstein talks throughout the movie sort of follows that same thought pattern. He switches thoughts mid stream and just says whatever he wants. It works well for the character I think, but really is not helpful for the audience, especially with the story inconsistencies.
In the end I really feel like there was a good movie hiding somewhere in there and it just did not get made that way. The actors were good, although I love them so I am a bit biased, and the visuals were really stunning. They showed how Igor looked at the world and studying anatomy he could understand how the human body fit together. There are some truly stunning visual moments in the movie, it just needed to stand firm with what it wanted to be instead of trying to throwing everything in the pot mixing it together and see what came out because what came out was a mess.