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Thursday, January 27, 2011

'The Wolfman' Is One Lost Puppy

The Wolfman: 2 out of 5

(My thoughts on The Rite made me take a look back at my thoughts on last year's Anthony Hopkins starring film.)
Sir John Talbot: Terrible things Lawrence, you've done terrible things.

The biggest problem with this film is how it takes no chances. It plays out exactly how it should, with nice production values, a talented cast, and some decent makeup and special effects. However, all of these things only add up to a bland film that isn't very scary or exciting.


Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbort, an actor estranged from his family in England, called back home on a count of his brother's death (mutilation) at the hands of an unknown beast. Upon arriving home, he meets with his father, Sir John played by Anthony Hopkins, who greets him the only way a loving father could after putting him in an asylum during his youth and then ditching him, by letting his dog growl at him for a while before calling him off and getting down to business. Lawrence also meets Gwen, played by Emily Blunt, who was engaged to Lawrence's brother, only to find herself grieving into the arms of Lawrence (girl wastes no time).


Of course, looking into his brother's demise by way of examining the mutilated corpse and listening to chit chat about monsters at the local pub, Lawrence soon makes his way to a gypsy camp, hoping to learn more about the possible existence of a beast, only to find himself right in the middle of a werewolf attack. Lawrence is attacked but not killed (like the many disembodied folks around him), only to heal days later. Soon Lawrence finds himself going through all sorts of changes, especially on the night of a full moon, where he suddenly has a whole lot of hair in new places (and goes on a killing rampage).

Eventually, Lawrence becomes a wanted man, with detective Abberline, (the real life detective who was on the Jack the Ripper case) played by Hugo Weaving, hot on the case, looking to stop Lawrence's questionable behavior. Of course, to get closer to the real truth and drama behind Lawrence's predicament, he may have to look closer to home.

Lawrence Talbot: You morons. I will kill all of you!
After a director change and the four date changes before this movie finally came out, its no wonder this movie isn't very good. It doesn't try hard to be anything special. A campy version could have been more entertaining, but the film holds back from this aspect. A deadly serious version could have been at least an interesting take on this classic monster character, but that isn't the goal either. Instead, we basically have a lot of sad faces to look at throughout, mixed with the occasional jolt of a jump scare or some frantic wolf killing action. It just doesn't wind up being much fun.


There were a lot of good things that could have helped out here, which is a shame. Del Toro is a huge fan of The Wolfman and served as a producer on the film, yet he appears to be detached in the role throughout. Emily Blunt is similarly wooden, only working to advance the plot. Hopkins is good at being a very talented actor in a movie, which is expected, but if was really hamming it up like he did in Dracula, he could have been put to much better use. Really, the only character that shines is Abberline, played by Weaving. His unique delivery really could have worked for a whole movie about his character, after the events of the Ripper case.

Of course, much of the interest for this film will come from the look of the Wolfman. I did enjoy all the practical aspects put to use here, stemming from work by makeup guru Rick Baker, and some of the CG transformations were cool, however its easy to tell the difference between good and bad CG, and some of that is present here, not to mention a lack of weight given to a sprinting werewolf. The film certainly earns its R rating, which was a nice plus, but the gore generated in the film isn't very satisfying when the scares aren't at all scary.


I know director Joe Jonston wasn't gonna be my savior for this film, but I was hoping screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, who also penned Sleepy Hollow, a favorite film of mine and similar in subject matter, could lead the film into a better balance of creepiness, humor, and excitement; however, the film lacked all three.

Once again, the vampire triumph over the werewolves, because even if they are over saturating the market, the media they are producing has many better entries over the big bad wolf.

Det. Aberline: [to a police officer while running trying to catch the Wolfman] I don't suppose we have any silver bullets?

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