We meet the currently nameless hunchback destined to become the iconic assistant, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), working as a clown and aspiring physician at a circus, where he is brutalised and beaten often by his 'circus family'. He is saved by Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) who sees the young man's astounding intellect and potential when Igor's dream girl, the beautiful acrobat, Lorelei (Jessica Brown Findlay), is hurt during a performance and tended to by Igor.
Upon being freed from the circus, Igor is taken to Frankenstein's impressive home where the trainee Dr. quickly corrects Igor's deformity and posture, which was not a true hunchback condition and shows him his impressive scientific experiments. Together they assemble a creature which they bring to life to impress Victor's peers and superiors at university. The experiment succeeds but, instead of being met with applause, Victor is dismayed to find that his creature has brought him only disgust and it soon becomes violent, forcing him to kill it.
Not disheartened by this, Victor and Igor continue to work on a bigger, better creature whilst dodging the attentions of a determined Scotland Yard inspector who suspects the pair of murder and worse.
Although the horror elements are remarkably tame, the film attempts to retell the tale through Igor's eyes in an imaginative fashion and updates the plot without losing too much of the original tale.
McAvoy and Radcliffe make an excellent pair of mad scientists with McAvoy playing the titular Victor Frankenstein in true charismatic, maniacal brilliance. Radcliffe brings a new dimension to the usually humorous assistant character of Igor, with a confused ethical code, heroic qualities and a sympathetic charm.
It was nice to see Igor get a new lease on life (and some intellectual credit) and to see the tale from a different perspective. However, the film itself does nothing particularly ground breaking and certainly won't appease the gore hounds. It stands as a fun retelling but can be boring in places and, despite the excellent performances of the main characters, it does not break free from other Frankenstein remakes as anything unique.
[Image: 20th Century Fox, et al]