Victor Frankenstein, film review: James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe's mug show

 (12A)​ Paul McGuigan, 110 mins. Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Andrew Scott, Freddie Fox

Geoffrey Macnab
Friday 04 December 2015 00:37
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James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein in a kitsch retelling of the story
James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein in a kitsch retelling of the story

Where is Marty Feldman when you need him? Paul McGuigan's kitsch and fussy retelling of the Frankenstein story falls between Mel Brooks-like spoof and horror movie. It is very fussily designed and full of extravagant camera movements. The performances are on the overwrought side. Daniel Radcliffe plays Frankenstein's little helper, Igor, who is first encountered as a hunchback circus freak with talcum powder smeared on his face. Everybody mocks and bullies him but when he is not being tormented by his colleagues, he is busy boning up on advanced medicine and mathematics. Jessica Brown Findlay is Lorelei, the Esmerelda-like acrobat he dotes on. McAvoy tackles Victor Frankenstein as if he is a cross between a strait-laced Victorian scientist and Tim Curry in his Rocky Horror Show pomp.

The circus scenes are filmed in very overwrought fashion but, even so, seem muted by comparison with the sequences set in Frankenstein's lab.

With a bit of suction and a few slaps from Frankenstein, Igor loses his hump and metamorphoses into a Victorian man about town. Together, the two friends do their best to create new life from old body parts. With his brow furrowed, Andrew Scott is Inspector Turpin, who suspects they're up to monkey business. A nonsensical film culminates with a bizarre scene in a Scottish castle in which the young scientists harness lightning to galvanise their creation. The monster has two hearts but that doesn't stop him from killing everybody in his wake,

Taken as a lurid, B-movie-style pantomime fantasy, the film is quite fun but it is vexing to see actors of the calibre of McAvoy and Radcliffe reduced to such abject mugging.

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