Like the spark of life itself, it’s hard to identify the elusive missing ingredient that prevents this ragbag of potentially likable body parts ever earning the accolade “It’s alive!”
Perhaps it’s the all too obvious attempts to ape the shtick of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, James McAvoy’s fast-talking Frankenstein and his narrating assistant attended by animated diagrammatic pathologies that echo Robert Downey’s cinematic deductions, minus the wit. Maybe it’s the performances, which are spirited but hammy rather than spiritedly Hammer-y – a distinction that Daniel Radcliffe understood in the Harry Potter movies and the horror hit The Woman in Black.
Or maybe its Max Landis’s creaky script that, like his screenplay for American Ultra, never lives up to the smart-alec promise of its promising pitch, in which former circus “freak” Igor is the real brains behind the operation. Paul McGuigan (who directed several episodes of the Gatiss/Moffat Sherlock TV show) has a stylish eye and knows how to stage an arresting set piece, aided by carnivalesque production design and fleshy creature effects. As a pantomime romp, it pulls off a few diverting capers, but it lacks anything vaguely resembling a soul – a fatal flaw for this wannabe modern Prometheus.
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