He didn't have a name at first, he (Daniel Radcliffe) was simply called the Hunchback or the Freak on account of the deformity on his back that saw him practically doubled over for most of the time. He had a job in a travelling circus as a clown, the butt of every joke as the audience laughed uproariously at him every night, but none of this lifted his spirits. Making things worse was his unrequited love for one of the acrobats, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), but one evening she was performing and slipped, causing her to drop to the ground like a stone. He had been studying medical textbooks to find out about his disability and thought he could help - but so did someone from the crowd.
You'll never guess who that was. Okay, you will, his name's in the title, here played by James McAvoy in overripe mode to match the grandeur of the production design. It did not succeed, however, in netting an audience, most of whom wondered what yet another telling of the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein would bring to the world, and the answer to that was precisely nothing, for the whole thing came across as a patchwork of other movies on the same subject, which may have been fitting for the storyline about piecing together bits from other sources to create something new. Only this was not new at all, it was more or less everything you had seen before, simply more bombastic.
Even the idea of seeing the plot through the eyes of the scientist's assistant character as dreamt up by the Dwight Frye role of the 1931 Universal Frankenstein was not original, as there had been the animation Igor from around ten years before that placed him front and centre. In fact, you could argue that while Radcliffe was the star in the billing, he remained second fiddle to McAvoy who was really pulling the strings, no matter that the script beefed up his contribution by having him add his medical knowledge to the experiments. Oh, and Igor (now named by the mad doctor) had a love interest this time around, Findlay landed with a truly superfluous part that added even less than building up Igor.
Not only that, but by the end Igor might as well not have been in this at all for all the influence he had on the classic tale, he added a little muscle to the wearyingly predictable great big fight scene that it seemed every big budget horror movie had to end on in the twenty-first century, yet Victor could easily have overpowered the creation anyway. Some pinned the blame on the screenplay by Max Landis, who was quickly becoming a divisive figure in the moviemaking landscape, but he didn't, he blamed the rewrites that made what should have been innovative into something safe and uninspired. How accurate that was is up for debate, but if he was right, then it was yet another example of studio interference sabotaging what might have been a promising idea and blanding out anything interesting.
When all the publicity was keen to mention that scene where Frankenstein drains Igor's hump by sucking out the fluid, and that it had been improvised on the day by McAvoy, Radcliffe and director Paul McGuigan, then you had to wonder about the rest of it when that was really the best they could recommend about the end result. It also meant the potentially intriguing foregrounding of a disabled character in a mainstream movie who overcame victimhood didn't matter so much when he ended up a normal bloke in abnormal circumstances, and suspiciously surplus to requirements anyway. Andrew Scott was a religiously conservative detective who investigated Victor's activities, but merely was there for the sort of philosophical debate a teenager who has just discovered atheism might chunter on about, and Charles Dance showed up to hit McAvoy in the guise of his unimpressed father, another example of supposedly intelligent characters expressing themselves through violence which happened throughout. Even if you were a fan of the cast, and there was talent here, Victor Frankenstein was utterly inessential. Music by Craig Armstrong.