Monday, November 30, 2015

Victor Frankenstein [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (1 Star) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (1 Star)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (R. Rodriguez) review (G. Krenny) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review 

Victor Frankenstein [2015] (directed by Paul Mc Guigan, screenplay and screen-story by Max Landis inspired-by / playing-on the truly ENORMOUS "canon" of Frankenstein films / stories that have been written / made in the 200 or so years since the publication of Mary Shelley's [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [IMDb] classic novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818) [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn])

The current story, set largely around London of the mid-1800s, is told from the point-of-view of  "Igor" [wikip] [IMDb] (played in the current film by Daniel Radcliffe of "Harry Potter" fame), the hunchbacked assistant to the budding mad-scientist Victor Frankenstein's [wikip] [IMDb] (played in the film by James McAvoy). 

Note that the character of "Igor" did not appear in Mary Shelley's original novel [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] but appeared (though named "Fritz") in the first "modern" Frankenstein [1931] movie and became a regular fixture (as "Igor") in Frankenstein films/stories ever since.

Radcliffe's Igor is introduced to us in the current story as growing-up as a hunch-backed "circus freak" who since he was more than simply a deformed person turned out to have interests, notably in animal anatomy, that the young Victor Frankenstein found interesting / useful.  The two meet after a young trapeze artist, here named Lorelei (played by Jessica Brown Findlay) falls.  Both run out to try help revive her after her fall.  Though Victor was nominally studying medicine, it was Igor who actually saves her life. 

Well, Victor finds Igor's homespun anatomical knowledge (from cutting up dead circus animals) fascinating  He convinces Igor to escape the circus with him and ... much of the rest of the story ensues ...

It turns out that Victor Frankenstein (as actually in the original novel) is rather bored with the education that he's getting at the University, finding it quite pedestrian.  Instead, he really wants to "play God" convinced, among other things, that "electricity," properly applied, can give "life" to previously "lifeless flesh." 

Together with Igor, he first stitches-together a thoroughly unholy-looking beast out of seemingly random animal parts, the collection of which arouses the attention of a particularly ardent (and Christian) agent of Scotland Yard (played by Andrew Scott).  Then animating his monstrous construct at some semi-secret society student forum, Victor catches the attention of a deep-pocketed fellow student named Rafferty (played by Bronson Webb) who decides to use his father's money to underwrite Victor / Igor's "next project" to reanimate a human corpse.  [It turns out that Victor pines to reanimate his dead older brother Henry for whose death he feels responsible (there's also a Henry, related to Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's original novel who also had died a tragic death)]. 

As Victor and Igor stitch together a new and monstrously large body (8ft tall with two hearts) to ultimately attach Henry's head to (not unlike Steve Jobs / Steve Wozniak initially soldered together the first clumsy looking circuit boards for their Apple-2 computer), Victor's disapproving father (played by Charles Dance) passes through for a visit.  In CERTAINLY THE MOST AMUSING SCENE in the entire film, Victor's father _sternly_ warns his son to "just go back to his normal studies" (the studies that Victor's father WAS PAYING FOR) and ABOVE ALL  to "NOT SULLY THE GOOD NAME of FRANKENSTEIN."  Well ... ;-) ;-)

With Henry's head stitched to still perhaps a "beta form" body, Victor and Igor transport it/him to Rafferty's family's appropriately creepy castle "by the sea" (In Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein's final experiments take place on the far flung Orkney Islands).  An electrical storm comes, and ...

It's NOT a bad story ... it certainly has it's moments.  And I've recommended the film to our Servite Seminarians here in Chicago who're currently studying a "bio-ethics" class ;-).  For in this film, Victor Frankenstein certainly (and imaginatively) "pushes the envelope" of what conceivably will become possible in the future: hybrid creatures "spliced together" in all sorts of shocking / ghastly ways ...

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