So Much More than an Action-Thriller: Victor Frankenstein

So Much More than an Action-Thriller: Victor Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein (20th Century Fox, 2015)

I really enjoyed this movie. Victor Frankenstein (2015) is an intelligent, well-written, dramatic horror film, a true actor’s film, and so much more than an action-thriller.

Daniel Radcliffe shows off the acting chops I knew he had, from both pre- and post-Harry Potter. James McAvoy is terrific, and once again, the wonderful Charles Dance shows what he can bring to the table. Jessica Brown Findlay adds heart, charm, beauty and class to this production. This film reminded me of the best of the classic Hammer films, but with a bigger budget and state-of-the art special FX, both practical and CGI.

The “Creature” is different, too, and the make-up is very cool: there are actually two different creatures in the film.

But this is not a horror story totally centered around the Creature, and although in the film he’s called Prometheus. In Mary Shelley’s novel he has no name, and the Creature tells Frankenstein, “I ought to be thy Adam but I am rather the fallen angel.”

Thus, I’ve always called him Adam and still do in the stories I write for the Heroes and Hell series. (The “modern Prometheus,” the subtitle of Shelley’s novel, refers not to the Creature, but to Doctor Frankenstein. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to Man, and was thus punished for his sins. The infamous doctor stole the secret of life from God and he, too, as well as his family, friends and wife, paid the price for his sins.)

So, what’s new about this incarnation? It’s not a retelling but a prequel to the 1931 Karloff film, and it concerns Victor Frankenstein’s early experiments and years at medical school.

To begin with, Radcliffe starts out as a brilliant, self-educated but nameless hunchback, a creepy circus clown who Doctor Frankenstein “fixes,” because the hump is merely a massive cyst, which he drains and then helps Radcliffe to learn and be able to walk upright. He gives the former hunchback the name of Igor Straussman, his former, late assistant.

All the actors in this film are a pleasure to watch — from the irrepressible Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) to the rapidly evolved, medical genius in his own right, Igor (Radcliffe) to the nasty, religious zealot Inspector Turpin (Andrew Scott) to the powerful presence of Baron Frankenstein (Dance.) They were all magnetic.

The set design was also beautiful — and Victorian England was displayed in everything from furnishings to fabrics to city views to laboratory equipment. Everything is in place for a great viewing.

There were a few twists I did not see coming and a couple that I did. I liked the payoff in the grand finale.

For me, this is a 4 out of 5-star film. Well worth the time spent viewing.

Joe Bonadonna

Joe Bonadonna is the author of the heroic fantasies Mad Shadows—Book One: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser (winner of the 2017 Golden Book Readers’ Choice Award for Fantasy); Mad Shadows — Book Two: The Order of the Serpent; Mad Shadows—Book Three: The Heroes of Echo Gate; the space opera Three Against The Stars and its sequel, the sword and planet space adventure, The MechMen of Canis-9; and the sword & sorcery pirate novel, Waters of Darkness, in collaboration with David C. Smith. With co-writer Erika M Szabo, he penned Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin (winner of the 2017 Golden Books Judge’s Choice Award for Children’s Fantasy), and its sequel, The Power of the Sapphire Wand. He also has stories appearing in: Azieran: Artifacts and Relics; Savage Realms Monthly (March 2022); Griots 2: Sisters of the Spear; Heroika I: Dragon Eaters; Poets in Hell; Doctors in Hell; Pirates in Hell; Lovers in Hell; Mystics in Hell; Liars in Hell; Sinbad: The New Voyages, Volume 4; Unbreakable Ink; Stand Together — A Collection of Poems and Short Stories for Ukraine; the shared-world anthology Sha’Daa: Toys, in collaboration with author Shebat Legion; and with David C. Smith for the shared-universe anthology, The Lost Empire of Sol. In addition to his fiction, Joe has written numerous articles, book reviews and author interviews for Black Gate online magazine.

Visit Joe’s Amazon Author’s page!

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Joseph P Bonadonna

Thank you, John O’Neil! Caught me by surprise. Didin’t think this was going up so quickly I should have proofread it a second time. Caught a typo, lol!

Last edited 4 months ago by Joe Bonadonna
John ONeill

Sharp eyes, Joe!

I have to post these quickly just to keep up with you — you’ve already got another review of THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER in the queue I want to use! 🙂

Joseph P Bonadonna

I don’t think I’m that all that prolific. I certainly come nowhere near Bob Byrne!

Alec Semicognito

“Adam” was also the name of the monster’s analogue in Dark Shadows.

Joseph P Bonadonna

Yes, thank you! I forgot about Dark Shadows. Adam is the name I use in my stories for Heroes in Hell, where Victor’s brain is now in the skull of his Creature, and the Creature’s name is now in the skull of the doctor. My own infernal take on Freaky Friday.

Joseph P Bonadonna

I just remembered the name of the actor who played Adam in DS: Robert Rodan. Saw him in one film – 1969’s The Minx, with Jan Sterling. It was a sort of soft-corn porn/film noir.


I noticed this movie sometime back. Was intending to watch it but forgot. Thanks for the reminder.

Joseph P Bonadonna

You’re welcome. I enjoyed it, some did not. I think it’s worth watching.

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