A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Victor Frankenstein is an action-oriented update of Mary Shelley's classic novel that focuses largely on the friendship between Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and Igor (Daniel Radcliffe); it has some blood and undeniably scary/horrific images, but it's not really a horror film. Expect plenty of fighting, punching, bashing, and kicking, plus some knives and shooting and monster violence. Some blood is shown, and there are monsters, explosions, and fire; minor characters die. Characters kiss, and a sex act is implied but not shown; there's also some minor sex talk. The main character drinks heavily during one sequence, but it appears to have no lasting effects. Language is infrequent but includes a couple of "s--t"s, as well as "damn," and "oh my God." There's a reference to a minor character being gay.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
A nameless hunchback (Daniel Radcliffe) lives and works as a humiliated circus clown, but he loves to study science and anatomy in his off hours. One day, Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) comes to the circus and sees the hunchback save the life of a fatally injured acrobat (Jessica Brown Findlay). Victor rescues the hunchback, fixes his medical problems, names him "Igor," and makes him an assistant. Together they work on Victor's ultimate experiment: bringing life back into dead tissue. But after a violent incident involving an early experiment, Igor begins to fear that Victor may be going down the wrong track. At the same time, a relentless Scotland Yard inspector (Andrew Scott) is also snooping around.
Is it any good?
At first, the movie focuses on the strange, tender, sometimes amusing friendship between the two leads, and it works well, but it goes off in too many directions, with needless action and padding. Both McAvoy and Radcliffe are terrific; McAvoy is cheerfully manic, Radcliffe is soulfully compassionate, and their relationship is fascinating, fluctuating, and truthful. There could have been a rich movie about the two of them, worthy of Mary Shelley herself.
But screenwriter Max Landis tacks on too many subplots and uninteresting supporting characters, such as a romance for Igor and some single-minded bad guys. Director Paul McGuigan seems uninspired by this extra material and begins distractedly making little designs with glass and reflections/refractions. His action scenes are likewise uninspired; they feel very choppy and lazily cobbled together. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN seems like a compromised vision, designed to pander to audiences rather than telling a good story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? Why is the Frankenstein storyline considered to be horror? Would you consider this a horror movie?
How important is sex to the Igor character? Does it change him? How? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
What are the themes of the original Frankenstein story? Does this movie deal with the same themes? New ones?
What's the friendship like between Victor and Igor? What kinds of things do they agree on or disagree on? How does it compare to your own friendships?
- In theaters: November 25, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 8, 2016
- Cast: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Jessica Brown Findlay
- Director: Paul McGuigan
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book Characters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: macabre images, violence and a sequence of destruction
Themes & Topics
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