DIRECTOR PAUL McGUIGAN'S re-imagining of Mary Shelley's classic is a mash-up monster. Victor Frankenstein steals viscera from Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy, Martin Scorsese's Hugo, old-school Hammer Horror films, Todd McFarlane's action figures, and countless other bits of genre detritus. All of that sounds like it could be a good time—like hanging out with a mythical hybrid, like a lioncowpanzee, an adorable mooing primate with a flowing golden mane. But, in reality, watching Victor Frankenstein is more like chilling with a lioncowpanzee that was stitched together by Dr. Frankenstein—a cross-eyed beast that's much more likely to be masturbating while cramming its four stomachs full of zebra carcass. No fun.
Victor Frankenstein tells the legendary monster story from the hunchback's point of view. This time, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) is a circus clown in steampunk London, bullied by strongmen and mean clowns. (Please reread that sentence.) He lives a miserable existence until the ambitious grave-robber Victor Frankenstein (a very spitty James McAvoy) proclaims Igor a genius and steals him away to poke at organs! Then they steampunk up some monsters, like that dreadful lioncowpanzee, and all the while, god-fearing detective Inspector Turpin (played by Andrew Scott, AKA Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes, which is another pillaged body of work in Victor Frankenstein) pursues the two.
Victor Frankenstein would like to pass as much smarter and more charming than it is, but between braying about religion vs. technology, Frankenstein doesn't make a great case for philosophical deep thoughts. He's too busy giving Harry Potter homespun chiropractic sessions to clear up his hunchbackery. (This part is, admittedly, pretty awesome, as is a drunken sciencing montage.) The whole experience never lives up to its promise of adventure, romance, monsters, explosions—it just sloppily toes the line between all, sprinkled with spit-flecked rantings about god. Even Dr. Frankenstein's man-child monster looks a little bummed out that he has to wander around this mess of movie. He wears a diaper.