NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Harry Potter teams up with Professor X to create a Karloff! Daniel Radcliffe as Igor the hunchback is saved by James McAvoy as the title doc and they form an unusual friendship in 19th-century England as the obsessive, somewhat-nuts Victor tries to prove his unorthodox theories and Igor tries to keep him sane, while both are being pursued/persecuted by a zealous, equally-obsessive detective, Andrew “Moriarty” Scott (of Scotland Yard of course). Screenplay and story by Max Landis based on the Mary Shelly novel. Directed by Paul McGuigan.
Casting was spot-on. Each of the main actors owned their parts so you believe them as the characters and can’t easily imagine someone else in them. McAvoy is delightfully, crazily, almost comically intense (MIKE: he does Colin Clive from the classic Universal version proud) and Radcliffe inspires sympathy without being annoying, while showing some major physical skill (MP: I wonder if he put a 60-pound weight on his back like Lon Chaney did). Scott’s Inspector Turpin is just as intense as McAvoy but in an opposite, slow-burning way.
The locations, sets, scenery, costumes all look perfect. I don’t know crap about Victorian England but it drew me in and made me believe that’s where I was so it’s good enough fer me.
(From MIKE: Really liked the camera and shot setups, angles, perspectives, storytelling techniques. You notice them in a good way; doesn’t detract from the storytelling but adds to the mood and emotions of the events and characters. Not surprising when I realized McGuigan also directed several of the best-looking episodes of the SHERLOCK BBC show. Really effective and fresh stuff.)
Special effects and makeup were scary good (and scary). From the beginning there’s a cool technique of overlapping old anatomical drawings over bodies. Though the monster itself could have been more memorable, the laboratory equipment and body parts and “Gordon” the chimp were awesome. Victor’s lab and special apparatuses (apparatti?) had an almost steampunk look to it without looking futuristic or out of place.
No dead kids or cliché angry mob of villagers with torches. (Just a lot of angry cops.)
Great twists and turns in the story. I didn’t know much from the (deceptive) trailers but it was a good story all around; gave proper motivation for Frankenstein’s obsession which very few (if any) other versions addressed.
If you like gore, you get plenty here. Ugh. Also a good deal of suspense, thrills and even impressive action in a few places, starting near the beginning.
Fans of SHERLOCK and DOCTOR WHO should keep a look out for writer/actor Mark Gatiss (aka Holmes’s bro Mycroft) as “Dettweiler”, assistant to rich white boy Finnegan. Stupid Pascale noticed him in the castle lab near the movie’s end. Almost made me drop my beer.
The love story was okay with me. Not too mushy, not shoehorned, not unbelievable (even if it almost seems borrowed a bit from the Hunchback Of Notre Dame films). Good chemistry between Radcliffe and McAvoy.
Awesome nod to the Universal film character, Henry Frankenstein and a couple other nods, including the modern confusion of Frankenstein the man vs. the monster.
Surprisingly un-depressing ending for a refreshing change.
Deceptive Trailer Warning: The ones I saw make ya think it’s almost action/comedy like the Robert Downey Jr. SHERLOCK HOLMES flicks. Nope. This is a real drama/thriller with a mere scattering of humor and funny dialog. But that doesn’t make it less enjoyable; in fact, it gave it a deeper level of entertainment if that makes sense. (I grabbed the International trailer for this review which is more accurate.)
Igor bounces around like a ping-pong ball with his back-and-forth support then defiance of Victor. Make up yer mind, bro!
Another violation of the blood to boobs-and-butts ratio. Gallons of the red stuff but not even a flash of flesh! Lorelei was pretty hot, too. Dang.
The close-ups on the organs and gore could get to those with sensitive tummies, especially when munching on movie snacks. I had to put down my bratwurst a couple times (yes, I brought my own).
The Monster is a minor character, saved for the climax. This is more about the relationship and trials between the two characters and not about the creature. (Which is still refreshing; just letting you Monster fans know.)
For all you science vs. religion debaters, there’s a bunch of fodder for argument here. Settle it at a bar, okay?
As usual, there’s a few Suspension Of Disbelief Dept. moments where a character has to do something superhuman or stay conscious or survive or whatever to further the plot. But thankfully nothing too glaring that ruined it.
I didn’t know what to expect so my expectations were low and I enjoyed it a lot. The relationship between the three main characters and the acting and story all made it worth the time of viewing and the spectacular sets, shots and scenery made it worth the ticket price. It didn’t do well in its first weekend for some dumb reason, so go out there and support this fresh take on a classic! Even after a half-gazillion Frank flicks, there’s something worthwhile left to tell to the story. This is different right down to the nuts and bolts. (HA! Get it? Dang I’m funny.)
P.S.: Pascale has drawn the Frankenstein monster since he did his first painting at age 8. He still draws a good one so you should buy one.. Get 25% OFF A COMMISSION by Mike just by mentioning the codeword “Frank.” Offer expires 12/31/15. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, Scotland Yard, the Frankenstein family, mad scientists, hunchbacks, detectives, circus freaks, hot trapeze artists and pieced-together reanimated monsters. Bru would like Victor to create a bride but only if he used parts from hot strippers and left off the bolts, as they make it hard to leave hickeys.