You don’t have to wonder why such great actors would get involved with a movie of this caliber. The story of Frankenstein has echoed in the psyche of humanity since Shelly published it almost 200 years ago in 1818. Add to the base desire to be involved in such a classic story the opportunity to work together and have some fun in period dress and with lots of effects, and it was probably too shiny to avoid.
Danielle Radcliffe (Horns) and James McAvoy (X-Men: Days of Future Past) make a great buddy team. Despite the craziness of their meeting and their abrasive relationship, you sense the bond they create. The situation and plot are absurd, but their connection feels real. Even the odd and pointless wildcard of Jessica Brown Findlay (Winter’s Tale) doesn’t shatter that relationship, and she manages to ride the wave of the insanity with the young men.
Andrew Scott (Spectre) as the moralistic detective tries to make hay from his scarecrow of a part, but frankly doesn’t manage much with it that resonates. His introductory scene offers promise, but it quickly dwindles away. It just isn’t there in the script to make you care. And Freddie Fox (Pride) just comes off as a pretty but prissy bit of old money with barely the brains he even implies he has. A shame as he isn’t a bad actor. But, then again, even the powerhouse of Charles Dance (Childhood’s End), in a very small but important role, leaves you wondering why he bothered to show up for the shoot that day.
Director McGuigan (Sherlock) showed his ability to move a story along with this piece, but not the ability to craft it well. On the other hand, writer Landis (American Ultra) seemed to lose his grip on the story as a whole. He sets you up for “seeing something more” in a story you know well, and what you get is something pedestrian and boring and, no, not really all that new or unexpected. It is all telegraphed and pointless.
Ultimately, despite heroic efforts on the part of the cast and production designers, what ended up on screen was a rather empty bit of pretty fluff. It isn’t a total loss, thanks again to those folks, but unless you have to see everything these actors produce, there are so many better roles they have played that deserve your time more.