“VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN” My rating: C- (Opens wide on Nov. 25)
109 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
“It’s alive!” rejoices Dr. Frankenstein (James McAvoy) as an ungodly mess of dead chimpanzee parts begins to stir on his operating table.
Too bad the same cannot be said of “Victor Frankenstein,” an elaborate production design in search of a movie.
The Frankenstein legend has so often been explored and exploited by filmmakers that screenwriter Max Landis and director Paul McGuigan deserve credit for at least trying something different.
This time around the “hero” is the hunchbacked assistant Igor, who far from being a demented moron is played by Daniel Radcliffe as a natural genius, albeit one who for his entire life has been the virtual prisoner of a traveling circus in Victorian England.
During performances this wretched nameless creature dons white makeup and is abused by the other clowns. In his off hours the hunchback studies anatomy and is the circus’ unofficial physician.
He’s rescued by medical student Victor Frankenstein, a hyperactive visionary who cures his new friend’s twisted spine, gives him a new identity (that of Igor, Frankenstein’s drug-addicted roommate who has been missing for months), and makes him a partner in his bizarro experiments.
The transformed Igor not only begins to experience something like normalcy, he strikes up a love relationship with the beautiful aerialist (“Downton Abbey’s” Jessica Brown Findlay) whom previously he worshipped from afar.
But Igor’s bliss keeps getting in the way of Frankenstein’s monomaniacal quest to give life to dead tissue.