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Review: Energetic but scattered ‘Victor Frankenstein’

Tom Long
The Detroit News

There’s certainly a sense of crazed energy and mad invention in “Victor Frankenstein,” but director Paul McGuigan and writer Max Landis are going so many ways at once that the film lacks a center.

Is this high camp horror? Is it a razzle-dazzle action-effects show? Is it a dialogue duel, a self-referential amalgam of previous Frankenstein flicks, a suddenly serious tale of redemption? It’s all of these and more at once and, even though there are some very good bits floating about, it gets to be too much of a crazy thing.

Give the script points for originality, though. This Frankenstein tale focuses on Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), Frankenstein’s long-overlooked assistant. He starts out as a nameless (really, he has no name) hunchback clown in a circus who is secretly fascinated by and studying the human anatomy. When, during a show, the trapeze artist he literally looks up to, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), takes a fall, he rushes to her side.

Also rushing to her side is med student Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy), who is amazed as the filthy clown manipulates the woman’s bones and saves her life. Sensing brilliance, Frankenstein, helps the hunchback escape the circus, to much uproar, and with one of their pursuers dying in the process.

When Frankenstein gets the poor wretch to his house, he miraculously relieves him of his hump, dubs him Igor and cleans him up. Suddenly the traditionally downtrodden Igor is a Victorian dandy. Then Frankenstein tells Igor about his experiments in bringing the dead back to life. Oops, we know how that goes.

Well, not exactly. In this telling, Igor and Frankenstein become fugitives from the law, Igor falls in love with Lorelei, the monster has two hearts … needless to say, things go careening away from anything Frankenmama author Mary Shelley ever dreamed of. Probably too far away for the film’s good. Or the audience’s.

tlong@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/toomuchTomLong

‘Victor

Frankenstein’

GRADE: C+

Rated PG-13 for macabre images, violence and a sequence of destruction

Running time: 109 minutes