Blu-ray Review: Victor Frankenstein

By , Contributor
I know what you’re thinking. Not another Frankenstein adaptation. After all, didn’t we just have Aaron Eckhart in I, Frankenstein? As with that 2014 flop, Victor Frankenstein was reviled by most critics and audience stayed away in droves (with only about $6 million in the U.S.; less than $30 million overseas). But hear me out: Victor Frankenstein, now available on Blu-ray via Fox Home Entertainment, is a total kick. It’s not a great movie by any means (and going in with low expectations helps), but it’s a solid re-imagining of the famous Mary Shelley tale.

This time around, we hear the oft-told story from Igor’s point of view. Daniel Radcliffe portrays the hunchback (not really, as it turns out), a circus “freak” with a brilliant mind. When the apple of his eye, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), falls during her tightrope-walking routine, Igor immediately knows how to clear her obstructed viewing. Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) is in attendance. He’s profoundly impressed by Igor’s self-taught medical skills. “You’re being wasted here,” Victor tells him. Time to bust Igor out of his personal prison (the circus, where he’s horribly mistreated) and tap into his genius.

Things settle into more or less the basic Frankenstein story, as Victor reveals his experimentation with “creating” life. He helps Igor overcome his physical limitations (I won’t spoil it, but one element of it is hilariously gross). This leads Igor to pursue Lorelei as a romantic interest, much to Victor’s dismay. Victor wants to concentrate fully on animating dead tissue, starting first with a stitched together animal hybrid but with the ultimate goal of creating a new kind of human. 
Victor Frankenstein BD (309x380).jpg Max Landis’ screenplay is inventive and offers some neat back story elements, allowing for Charles Dance to step in for a choice supporting role as Victor’s father to flesh out Victor’s tortured motivations. Production values are consistently strong, with set design, costumes, and visual effects all the more impressive given the film’s relatively modest $40 million budget. Both Radcliffe and McAvoy are excellent, mining their roles for pathos and humor (there’s a quick dialogue exchange that’ll put a smile on any Young Frankenstein fan’s face). There’s an interesting undercurrent of sexual tension, at least on Victor’s part, that’s hinted at but never made explicit. Victor seems smitten by Igor and deeply threatened by the developing relationship between his assistant and Lorelei. Strong acting, interesting visuals, and a degree of subtext in the writing—Victor Frankenstein may have flew under most moviegoer’s radar, but it delivers quite satisfactorily as solidly-produced entertainment.

Fox’s Blu-ray presentation offers a sterling 1080p transfer of Emmy-nominated cinematographer Fabian Wagner’s visuals. Veteran composer Craig Armstrong’s score is among the many highlighted elements in the DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless surround mix. The package includes a Digital HD copy.

Special features: there are a few elements here, nothing too interesting. A bunch of deleted scenes (14 minutes total) and a series of promotional-based, EPK featurettes (30 minute total) make up the meat of it. There are also a few still galleries and the film’s trailer.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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