Thursday, November 9, 2023


 IMHO: A Much Neglected Film

I don't know how I missed 2015' Victor Frankenstein. The film no doubt didn't do well at the box office, for some reason I can't understand, because far worse films have been far more successful.

But I really enjoyed this movie. It is an intelligent, well-written and well-acted, dramatic horror film -- a true actor's film, and so much more than a simple, mindless action-thriller. Daniel Radcliffe shows off the acting chops I knew he had, from both pre- and post-Harry Potter. James McAvoy is terrific, and once again, the wonderful Charles Dance shows what he can bring to the table. Jessica Brown Findlay adds heart, charm, beauty and class to this production. This film reminded me of the best of the classic Hammer films, but with a bigger budget and state-of-the art special FX, both practical and CGI. The "Creature" is different, too, and the make-up is very cool: there are actually two different creatures in the film. But this is not a horror story totally centered around the Creature, and although in the film he's called Prometheus. In Mary Shelley's novel he has no name, and the Creature tells Frankenstein, "I ought to be thy Adam but I am rather the fallen angel." Thus, I've always called him Adam and still do in the stories I write for the Heroes and Hell series. (The "modern Prometheus," the subtitle of Shelley's novel, refers not to the Creature, but to Doctor Frankenstein. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to Man, and was thus punished for his sins. The infamous doctor stole the secret of life from God and he, too, as well as his family, friends and wife, paid the price for his sins.)

So, what's new about this incarnation? It's not a retelling but a prequel to the 1931 Karloff film, and it concerns Victor Frankenstein's early experiments and years at medical school. To begin with, Radcliffe starts out as a brilliant, self-educated but nameless hunchback, a creepy circus clown who Doctor Frankenstein "fixes," because the hump is merely a massive cyst, which he drains and then helps Radcliffe to learn and be able to walk upright. He gives the former hunchback the name of Igor Straussman, his former, late assistant. All the actors in this film are a pleasure to watch -- from the irrepressible Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) to the rapidly evolved, medical genius in his own right, Igor (Radcliffe) to the nasty, religious zealot Inspector Turpin (Andrew Scott) to the powerful presence of Baron Frankenstein (Dance.) They were all magnetic. The set design was also beautiful -- and Victorian England was displayed in everything from furnishings to fabrics to city views to laboratory equipment. Everything is in place for a great viewing. There were a few twists I did not see coming and a couple that I did. I liked the payoff in the grand finale. For me, this is a 4 out of 5-star film. Well worth the time spent viewing.


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