Release Date: November 25, 2015
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: Max Landis, Mary Shelley (novel)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Bronson Webb, James McAvoy, Daniel Mays, Spencer Wilding, Robin Pearce, Andrew Scott, Callum Turner, Di Botcher, Eve Ponsonby, Will Keen, Louise Brealey, Nicola Sloane, Freddie Fox, Charles Dance, Alistair Petrie, Neil Bell, Mark Gatiss, Guillaume Delaunay
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 109 minutes
Production Company: Davis Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
If you were to tell me you didn’t care to see another reincarnation of the Victor Frankenstein story, I’d have a hard time arguing with you. We all know the story of Igor and Frankenstein, and have heard it countless times. With the millions of dollars Hollywood throws at random productions, most would hope those funds would go to something more original. Considering a reboot, the point is to tell the story you know, but from a completely different angle. Director Paul McGuigan (Push) and writer Max Landis (Chronicle) not only did that, but provided some of the best entertainment on the silver screen I’ve seen all year. The performances were splendid, the story is unique, and the characters are to die for. It’s the type of film that surprises you beyond belief, making you cheer for joy, and will have you smiling for weeks to come.
Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) is the first to make you smile. He’s adorable, and not the beast you might have known him to be. There’s an interesting way to his biology that serves the story, and thickens the overall plot. His introduction to Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) couldn’t have been any better. There’s a mutual understanding right off, so their company fits well like a glove. You’d be shocked to hear that their intelligence is a match which makes them a perfect pair. The friendship that grows between them is the kind that most long for. Their performances are remarkable, and some of the best I’ve seen all year. This could be from my lowered expectations, but I appreciate the magnitude brought forth between the two. Frankenstein is a lunatic psychotic genius, and you’re not sure to root him on, but he’s so passionate with his quest that you can’t help to hope he succeeds. He just wants to make the world a better place, but doesn’t know where to draw the line. His public speaking may need improvement, but he makes up for it through his work. Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Inspector Turnpin (Andrew Scott) also deserve recognition. She’s no damsel in distress, and is more than a love interest. She’s beautiful, classy, and the type to take home to mom. She stands out strong and knows how to hold her own. Inspector Turnpin is a fascinating fellow, who just wants to keep a natural balance in the world. Without going overboard he makes his point, and has a great dialogue chess match with Frankenstein that raises all the stakes.
The characters don’t waste any time getting things going, and neither does the story. It moves along quickly, but not too fast to miss anything. The film did an excellent job of showing without telling. I thought the use of penciled drawings, tied in with live action anatomy made the film really jump off the screen. It was a creative device to engage the audience, while providing something different and new. The story also satisfied you early on. I felt if the film was only thirty minutes, it would’ve been well worth my time. That just goes to show how the writing didn’t waste a beat of time, and condensed the story to a respectable runtime.
The metaphor used to describe the monster is the key element to the entire film. Depending on your definition, it could be the most revolting presence of a creature, or the madness behind someone’s logic. Regardless of that logic, it’s at the very least respected, and the monster(s) on screen do more than just terrify. They reveal the true nature of what our worst fears can become. That’s one of the elements that makes the film so mature, and entertaining. In a number of ways it redefines what a monster truly is, and gives examples of how everyone tries to fill dark holes.
Not expecting much, I received more than I could dream of, plus leftovers for the next few days. It’s so well rounded with great characters, direction, action, plot, and story, that I have no complaints. If you want to complain about the abandonment from the original source material, I’ll defend it for the rest of my days. James McAvoy deserves an Oscar nod, because he threw everything into this role. I’m also glad to say Daniel Radcliffe is much more than Harry Potter. He’s shaping out to be a fantastic actor that goes miles beyond that franchise. I could see this film multiple times repeatedly, and will recommend it to as many as I can. The way it stretches from grotesque monsters, to the mental illness flooding one’s psychology, is a true testament of how a different perspective can shed new light on an old classic tale.