Two of Hearts
A superfluous origin story for Igor, Victor Frankenstein’s toy boy, this movie of sorts will definitely be best enjoyed by the rough trade, dungeon and S&M crowd. The only woman involved, a trapezist named Lorelei, a name which firmly establishes her in a fantasy realm, acts as a beard for an elderly gentleman who enjoys the company of men.
Like in a 40s movie, hunchback/clown Igor (Daniel Ratcliffe) hopelessly looks at her flying far above the dirty ground he’s confined to. Enters the titular character (James McAvoy), and the two men instantly spot each other. One thinks it is called doctordar. Oh, did one mention Igor is also a doctor? It takes one to know one, see. After a slowmo escape really worth watching to confirm what depths Hollywood is now fathoming after Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes, Victor initiates Igor against a pillar with a piercing toy. Their bond is sealed: Igor is now allowed to wear a harness and call Victor “Master”. Good dog.
But back to science and the essence of life and death. Frankenstein delivers a first presentation to the Royal Academy of Medicine, a strictly male club heralded by a blond twink in an astrakhan coat. it is a fiasco and the creature escapes, only to die of misconception. Free from such biological hurdles, the movie goes on. Victor’s father thinks he has made the wrong choice of life. Igor unfruitfully attempts to make out with a zombi baboon. This being shocking even by Victorian standards, the blond twink has him thrown in the Thames.
Victor and Sherlock share their nemesis: Andrew Scott (here Inspector Turpin, there Moriarty, cringe-inducing in both parts). Dialogue goes rhubarb rhurbarb rhubarb, as it is virtually impossible to make a Frankenstein movie without regurgitating at least part of Mary Shelley’s garbage about life and death, God-defying science and the true nature of soul, all things very cinematic. The two nevertheless engage in ethical debate while Turpin has his hand crushed by wheel works.
The second presentation, with the whole Royal Academy of Medicine contributing to the creation of a stronger creature, with two sets of lungs and two hearts, takes place in a tower atop a cliff. It even has a chain bridge for gothic effect. “The storm is upon us!”, urges Victor. Igor climbs up with his bare hands because he really, really needs Master to punish him. They look at each other in rapture. Igor suspects Victor’s attempt at creating a beefcake is rooted in the death of his elder, manlier brother. Victor flinches. “The storm is almost upon us!” he disgresses.
Not unlike in a submarine movie (this long, hard thing full of seamen), most of the dialogue is repeated twice. Last part of the process involves nipple clamps (“Lazarus forks” for the initiated) and a crew of steampunk extras acting busy. “Prometheus ascending!” screams Victor at the top of his lungs. Did one mention the storm is upon us?
The movie grand finale is indeed a s*** storm. Turpin barges in to kill the creature; even though he has a clear shot he keeps yelling “Get out of the way Frankenstein!”. Maybe spatial logic is not the director’s strong suit. There is a fire and a ninja fight; as an angelic choir rolls in all casualties have vanished but the creature. It ends with a letter saying one thing and its contrary. One can only hope Victor and Igor will move to Berlin, or maybe San Francisco, where they can play with beefcakes all they want. Hey, that would make for an interesting sequel!