Directed by: Joe Johnston Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: R Release Date: February 12, 2010
PLOT: A man (Del Toro) is bitten by a wolf and turns into one whenever there is a full moon.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Grown-ups who see R-rated "gore-or" movies but still think like teenagers.
EXPECTATIONS: A few questions I had written down before the film began: "Will it try to appeal to modern audiences with gore and cheap scares?" "Why do we need a re-boot of such an old movie villain?"
Benicio Del Toro as Laurence Talbot: No, that's not the seventh Beatle running around with a moptop and an artist's sensitivity. It's the face of a man who can easily turn into a reckless monster, and somehow we must sympathize with him. And it's an iconic face, as Del Toro is probably one of the better choices to play a Jekyll/Hyde like character. But still, his serious moments of family drama in this film are not as equally interesting as his rampages. Score: 5
Anthony Hopkins as Sir John Talbot: Even though he is hiding his own dark secret, Hopkins puts no intensity into the role. Instead, he's amused by the "terrible things" that his son Laurence does. The audience was laughing at many of his lines, and I am not talking about the "funny" ones. Considering this, it is difficult to figure out who has the strange sense of humor - Sir John Talbot, or a winking Hopkins himself? Score: 2
Emily Blunt as Gwen Conliffe: The title “damsel in distress” can also double as her only character trait. She’s a flat person in a movie where tension seems to be her only emotion. Still, I suppose Gwen deserves some credit, because at least she tried to get a cure. There may not have been one, but she tried, and that's good enough, right? Score: 4
Hugo Weaving as Abberline: He has a dry sense of humor, a certain degree of wit, and hisses his words that end with an "s." In a way he's the "villain" because he is hunting Talbot, Weaving drew heavily on his manners he created for the Agent Smith character from the Matrix movies. Score: 5
TALKING: The film is loaded with cliché dialogue like “If I hurt you I couldn’t live with myself.” There’s a crucial scene in which Hopkins reveals important information, but it is delivered in such a goofy fashion that all seriousness is lost. Questions about God creating evil are lazily raised by the dialogue in failed attempts to give the Wolfman's brain some credibility. Score: 3
SIGHTS: Once we see Talbot's "wolf" face, the make-up doesn’t work - it’s more Teen Wolf than it is terrifying. It would have been better if the creators had chosen something more in-between, one that resembled Benicio Del Toro more, or a wolf-look that didn’t feel totally dated. Visuals are stronger in other areas, such as the production design of the Talbot mansion, which is beautifully eerie inside and out. Score: 5
SOUNDS: Danny Elfman fought for his score to get into this film, and I wish I could say such a struggle was worth it. The movie isn't at fault for sticking to a symphonic accompaniment, though the harder-edged guitars heard in the trailer might have been on to something. The most memorable sound however belongs to the disappointing growl of the Wolfman, which reminded me of the way my Corolla's exhaust pipe sometimes sounds on bad days (or full moons, apparently). Score: 4
BEST SCENE: The essence of The Wolfman is captured in a scene where he breaks out of a mental hospital and kills random Londoners for a few minutes before going into hiding. It was always amusing in this scene to see that Talbot would literally kill ANYONE in his path.
ENDING: Someone else gets the curse, but it isn't likely we will care enough to get a sequel.
QUESTIONS: So was Hopkins laughing throughout the shooting of this film or what?
REWATCHABILITY: When this comes out on Blu-ray I would be willing to double check my thoughts on this movie, but for now I have no interest in flirting with more disappointment.
Jump scares are going to be the end of Hollywood horror. Feel free to add The Wolfman as another name to the list of freak-ish victims that have succumbed to such a cheap tactic to keep its audience interested. Similar to other grand failures (which are remakes by no coincidence), the booming surprises meant to scare the film’s audience come right on time, and are almost as calculated as the moments of carnage. The episodes where the Wolfman unleashes a very gory rampage on almost everyone in frame is relied on to appease those who think a character like Laurence Talbot/Wolfy exists in storytelling simply to rip the brains out of someone’s skull.
Films released during the black and white era are more likely to share with The Wolfman's pacing, despite the new film's blood lust and poor habit of using forced tension (which is usually for naught). The only time I was truly scared by this film was when a dog appeared from under Talbot's bed. Good dog, bad wolf.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10