Well, they couldn’t have timed it any better. On the day that a UK mother has given birth to twins developed from an egg developed from cells grown in a laborotory, ITV screened an updated version of Frankenstein, that taps into the idea of genemod research. For the most part, it wears it’s ideas lightly, preferring to be a juicy modern gothic rather than being a serious discussion of the issues at hand. This is where Jed Mercurio’s script and direction work best, I think. Despite his former work as a doctor, the science by which the Monster comes to be is sketchy at best, and still seems to involve a honking great tank full of bubbling chemicals and lightning. Hardly the cutting edge of biotech.
The film falls over when the plot steps away from the simple story that should be it’s heart – the relationship between parent and child. By shoehorning a spurious sub-plot involving the military-industrial complex into the midst of a perfectly satisfying relationship tale, Mercurio drags the classic tale down to a standard monster-in-a-box horror. I felt a little cheated by the quick ending. I’d love to have seen a story that deals with a family dealing with the most special needs of all children. I’d loved to have seen a story that dealt with the implications of growing a human being, and the consequences of that. I felt like there was plenty more that could have been done with the story. It’s a 21st century Frankenstein. Is this the best a gifted writer like Jed Mercurio could come up with?
However (in my reviews, there’s always a however) there were some neat nods to the mythos, not least the sequence with the child, which did not flinch away from the nastiness of the original script. And Helen McCrory was, as ever, great, and the most believable thing in the whole film. On the whole, not bad. Just not great. It was something of a wasted opportunity.