Monday, March 28, 2016

Movie Review with SpookyLady InSanDiego: Victor Frankenstein (2015)

You know this story. The crack of lightning. A mad genius. An unholy creation. The word of course, remembers the monster, not the man. But sometimes, when you look closely, there’s more to a tale.

Many people know this story. It was originally written by Mary Wollstonecraft, better known as Mary Shelley, wife of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary wrote the story in 1816 in Geneva, Switzerland. Since its publishing in 1818, many adaptations have been written and turned into films, from terrifying plots to humorous romps.

This version is one of the more eerie Frankenstein films I’ve seen. Set in Victorian England, the character of Victor Frankenstein is the quintessential imprudent medical student. He believes his superior intellect is going to waste and has set out on his own to continue his research into creating life. 

While visiting a circus in an attempt to obtain animal parts Victor comes across a young man with a physical deformity: he has a hunched back and cannot stand straight. After he demonstrates an incredible wealth of medical knowledge when saving the life of a young acrobat, Victor helps the man escape from the abusive ringmaster and start a new life as his apprentice.

Victor gives his new apprentice the name Igor, the name of his mysteriously absent acquaintance. He transforms Igor from a wretch to a man worthy of society’s norms. With his new appearance Igor visits Lorelai, the acrobat whose life he helped to save, and falls even more in love with her.

Together Victor and Igor share their experience, intellect and desire for greater achievements in science. They work on using electricity to shock various animal parts into some semblance of life: lungs inhale and exhale, hearts beat, eyes blink. Victor gives Igor ‘projects’ to work on before finally revealing his grand scheme: to bring life to an actual creature he’s patched together.

Scotland Yard’s Detective Turpin is Victor’s greatest antagonist. A man of great faith and excellent police work, when he finds out what Victor is really up to he becomes obsessed with stopping him by any means possible.

On a scale of 1 to 10 tombstones (1 = terrible, 10 = excellent): 9 tombstones.

I have no idea why this movie was considered a box office flop. With its $40 million dollar budget it only made around $34 million. I thought it was brilliant and beautiful. The director, Paul McGuigan, has directed several episodes of the very popular BBC series Sherlock. I could definitely see his Sherlock style in this film.

The lighting was amazing. Some of the interesting camera angles (such as looking through a magnifying glass) were really interesting. The sets and costumes were incredible. The production values were fantastic. I know, I probably sound like a bit of a film snob but I really think this was visually stunning.

The actors were great, especially James McAvoy; he portrayed a number of sides to Victor including the scientist, the lunatic, a father-figure and a man struggling with devastating loss. Daniel Radcliffe’s Igor goes through a huge awakening; Victor tells him he’s “one of his greatest creations.”

Regardless of what other reviewers have said, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and highly suggest others give it a try – but you’ll have to keep an open mind. Without giving away any spoilers I will say the actual monster that folks are used to seeing in other movies doesn’t have a big role, however, it does make quite an impression.

Victor Frankenstein (2015; click on movie title for IMDb info)

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