The Wolfman: Review

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The 2010 remake of  The Wolfman, is like one of the beasts unfortunate victims… a bloody mess.

The movie – which is set in the late 1880`s, tells the tale of Lawrence Talbot  who has returned to his fathers home in England after his brothers mysterious and bloody death. Lawrence takes it upon himself to bring his brothers killer to justice. Teeth, hair, gore and mayhem ensue. 

Let me start by saying that The Wolfman is a very flawed movie – but not a terrible one.

First the good. Do you really go to see a movie called The Wolfman for the stella acting and drama? No.You go and see it for the Wolfman! Luckily, the beast itself  is the main saving grace of the movie. When things get hairy- the movie comes to life!  Rick Bakers creature effects are great, and the set pieces in this movie are extremely fun and gory. Make no mistake, there is  a lot of blood and guts (literally) in this film, and the transformation effects are bone crunchingly effective.  The CGI is also suprisingly good, and does not distract from the reality of the picture.

Oddly, the look of the creature is both the coolest, and goofiest thing in the movie. Once Del Toro has fully transformed into full-on Chewbacca with fangs – he looks both silly, yet impressive. He is very much a 2010 update of the original 1941 beast from which it is based. It feels very retro to see a hollywood star bring a creature to life with simply a good costume and make-up effects. Far more effective than something like The Hulk, which was entirely CGI. At least in my opinion. There is a bit of CGI assistance in some scenes, but the effects are mainly practical. This was definitely a wise choice, making the movie feel kind of unique in this modern age. Although,  you will probably find yourself sniggering a little the first you see him. He does look a little silly, and not that scary.

The action and atmosphere in the picture is great! From the misty moors, to the cobble streets of london – the movie  looks good. Not necessarily authentic, but atmospheric – in a very stylized way that works well for the film. The action is also effective. There are not many big action set pieces in this movie, but what is in there is great! Especially the first attack at the gypsy camp and the rampage through London. Fast paced, exciting, gory and very well shot. The only scene that doesn’t work as well is the anti-climatic werewolf smack-down that ends the movie. It feels very much like an after thought and a little shoddy. You get the impression that the producers decided they needed something bigger to go out on, and so hastily knocked a fight scene together and wedged it into the end of the movie.

Which leads me to the bad points……

The movies biggest problem is that it feels incredibly rushed. No scene has any time to breathe. You are shown what you need to see for plot purposes, then we move straight on to the next scene, and so on. You can’t help but feel that every scene has been tinkered with and recut (and in most cases shortened) in a desperate attempt to keep the running time down. Which suggests the studio really didn’t have too much faith in what they had.   The production of this movie has been notoriously troubled from the start. The director Joe Johnston took over from Mark Romanek, who left the picture due to creative differences. The countless re-shoots and multiple cuts have taken their toll on the overall quality of this movie. And it does show. The entire movie appears to be a victim of way too much outside intervention (from producers, studio execs) a lack of focus, and way too much over thinking.

The super fast pace of the film affects everything from the plot to the characters. The cast is generally fine. Anthony Hopkins certainly steals the show as Lawrences shady father – despite the very suspect accent he adopts from time to time. Is he ment to be Irish? Scottish? It is never quite clear. Anthony Hopkins is a great actor – but he should really stop trying to do accents.  Benicio del Toro is a little bland as the leading man. His moody performance is very one note and there is very little life to his character. He is up-staged slightly by Hugo Weaving, playing detective Abberline –  who is far more interesting to watch. Emily Blunt plays the grieving widow of Lawrences murdered brother and is the love interest of the movie. Her performance is fine, but her character has very little to do, and so has zero impact on anything that happens in the movie. Which is a problem because the romantic connection between her and Del Toro, should be a major factor in our investment in these characters. But unfortunately, they have NO on-screen chemistry and so makes it difficult to care too much about what happens to them.

So in summary – I feel there was a potentially better movie in there somewhere, but what is there is certainly not a disaster. If only the director had been left alone to make the movie the way he wanted, we might have had a better film. But as it stands, The Wolf Man is a fun, slightly hollow movie, that while enjoyable, is completely forgettable.

6/10

Check out the trailer below

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