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20th Century Fox // PG-13 // March 8, 2016
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
At the start of the story, Frankenstein encounters a hunchbacked character at a circus. Victor Frankenstein ends up helping to discover that he is not a real hunchback but someone with a medical condition which he helps to resolve. Victor then ends up giving him a name: Igor (Daniel Radcliffe).
Frankenstein quickly makes him work as his assistant. Victor's a scientist (a mad one, of course) whose scientific goal is to find a way to bring back the dead. Together, with Igor, the pair work on his scientific experiments to try and resurrect the dead ("curing" humanity of death). Victor Frankenstein is determined to create life out of death (or even out of nothing).
The story of Frankenstein has always focused more on Frankenstein's monster (as brought back from the dead). This film's story focuses more on Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) as the scientist and man who works to find a way to bring back the dead. Unlike other films in the Frankenstein series, this film is a unique take on the story with the focus being much different. The story focuses much more on Frankenstein's pursuit of science than on the events after the creation of Frankenstein's monster.
McAvoy gives the film a manic performance which brings both humor and eccentricity to the character performance. Despite Victor Frankenstein largely being a "B" movie action-sci-fi production, McAvoy gives one of his best performances in the film. He excels in the role, bringing eccentricity and surprising depth to the role. McAvoy helps carry the film.
One aspect of this version of Frankenstein which is particularly compelling is the relationship between the characters of Victor Frankenstein and Igor. This is decidedly different than in other versions of the Frankenstein story. Both James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe bring their absolute best to their collaboration. Jessica Brown Findlay is also terrific as Lorelei, who similarly worked at the circus with Igor and who becomes romantically intertwined with him during the story.
Hair and make-up were also impressive in the film. With the circus characters being a prominent element of the production the efforts of the team were effective. In one sequence, the make-up and hair-styling was especially significant as Igor transforms from his hunchbacked state to a decidedly different appearance: Radcliffe's physical transformation was well-done by the hair and make-up department. Costume Designs by Jany Temime (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Skyfall) are also effective for the various characters in the film and for the setting and time-period of the story.
The production excels with some fantastic sets throughout the film. The production design by Eve Stewart (The King's Speech, Les Miserables) is remarkable to behold. The design is both creative and historically effective for the time-period. The set decoration by Michael Standish (Bridget Jones's Diary, Captain America) also compliments the filmmaking. The conclusion of Victor Frankenstein even takes place in an elaborate castle which was wonderfully designed by the production team.
The special effects in Victor Frankenstein are also impressive. The filmmakers utilized a larger degree of traditional effects work throughout the film. Though CGI is utilized, the filmmakers definitely emphasized a variety of techniques for the various effects throughout.
The music score by Craig Armstrong (Moulin Rouge, Love Actually) also adds to the filmmaking with a surprising blend of classical style music infused with a modern electronic sensibility. The film's score is decidedly different from most Frankenstein film scores in both mood and style but it works quite well in Victor Frankenstein. Armstrong's efforts certainly add a unique element to the filmmaking.
The cinematography by Fabian Wagner (Game of Thrones) is frequently stunning. This is certainly a slick, well-produced film and the cinematography is a huge element of that. The production manages to have both light-hearted sequences (such as a ballroom dance) and dark, gothic scenes and the cinematography reflects that with sequences of vibrant color and others of a decidedly darker approach. The efforts of Wagner are quite effective.
The screenplay by Max Landis (American Ultra, Chronicle) is an entertaining and unique one. Despite being an update on the classic Frankenstein story, Landis finds ways to make the story unique within the framework of the classic story. There are moments of homage to the classic Frankenstein films while the story also differentiates itself and stands as its own creation.
The big emphasis on the characters and on the story of Victor Frankenstein is a large departure for the film adaptations and is quite effectively done. The film also has a decidedly goofy (and often campy) sense of humor which is quite entertaining but decidedly different in tone than a typical Frankenstein production. Landis gives the story a uniquely entertaining spin that works quite well.
Directed by Paul McGuigan (Push, Lucky Number Slevin), Victor Frankenstein is impressive for its technical accomplishments and creative style. The film works as both a period-piece and as a large-scale action film. McGuigan gives good energy to Victor Frankenstein. The film has a fast and exciting pace. The stylistic flourishes of the filmmaking are decidedly inventive as well. This might not stand as one of the greatest Frankenstein films (the original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein are still the best in the series), but it's an effective, well-made, and worthwhile film.
Video:Victor Frankenstein arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen. This is a technically impressive presentation with excellent color reproduction, cinematography, and detail. The image is sharp, clean, and well-defined. The presentation showcases the fine craftsmanship of the filmmaking.
The film is presented with a lossless quality DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround sound presentation. This is a quality audio presentation. The surround sound design impresses throughout with good use of the sound effects and music score. The dynamics of this presentation help the film excel. Dialogue is also impressive and easy to understand.
The Making of Victor Frankenstein (29 min.) is a behind-the-scenes featurette with interviews with the cast, crew, producers, and director about the making of Victor Frankenstein. The featurette covers the production design, emphasizes the use of practical effects over CGI, explores the performances from James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe, and the original reimagining of the story for this updated version of Frankenstein.
Deleted Scenes (14 min.) includes several short sequences removed from the final film.
Victor Frankenstein is a entertaining and effective film highlighted by terrific performances by James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe. The film has terrific energy and style. Though this is a story that has been done many times before in film, Victor Frankenstein is a unique telling. Despite not being one of the best Frankenstein films, it's an effectively crafted film which certainly deserves a chance. Fans of the classic Frankenstein films should consider it worth checking out.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.