Movie review by Steffy Jesuthasan
The Wolfman, a horror remake directed by Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III) is the type of movie that can be mildly entertaining but never something truly memorable.
The story revolves around Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), a Shakespearen stage actor who is estranged from his father. During his tour in England, he receives a letter from his brother’s fiancée Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), begging him to return to the ancestral family estate. Ben has gone missing and she fears the worst. Shortly after Talbot arrives, those fears manifest. His brother is torn to pieces by some kind of wild animal although the villagers have some other, darker theories on-hand. His investigations into his brother’s death earn him a vicious bite by the beast. He soon learns that werewolves did not enter his life the night he was attacked, but have played a role in his life for quite a while, and it’s up to him to end the bloody cycle.
The film is oddly paced. Certain scenes, such as the wolf’s fight/killing scenes, are quickly paced and intense while the scenes that are meant to build the film’s plot line, such as the family’s history and Talbot’s past, are quite slow and at times boring.
The Wolfman had the potential to be really good but suffered terribly from mediocre acting. Blunt is wasted in a role that simply exists so she can write the letter bringing Lawrence home as well as offer someone pretty to look at. Del Toro further adds to this by trying to heavily contrast the wild nature he takes on when he transforms, which in the end leaves his performance feeling bland, subdued and difficult to connect with. Hopkins, on the other hand, plays the role of an emotionally detached man so perfectly that one always wonders what was going on behind his eyes.
The movie did do its genre justice but it depended heavily on jump scares and gore. There is no sense of dread as much as there is just the hope you won’t jump too high when whatever is hiding in the darkness pops out at you. There are also some thrilling and exciting action sequences such as when the Wolfman is terrorizing and killing everyone in sight or running from shooting guns across the rooftops of ancient buildings. One of the negative aspects of the film is the unnecessary amount of gore used. It is understandable that there has to be a certain amount of gore in a movie where a man who turns into a wolf is attacking people, often ripping them to shreds or even decapitating them. However, the film goes too far with guts lying all over the ground, blood squirting all over the place and one-too-many shots of mangled body’s post-Wolfman attack.
One of the positive aspects of this film is the cinematography. From the dense, dark forests to the misty eyed view of a quiet London it all looked grandeur and magnificent. The transformation is definitely the best part of the film and is realistically done. Talbot’s limbs extend beyond comprehension, his fingers contort in unimaginable ways, his very bones seem to break and remold among other things. When the wolfman is finally seen in full, prowling about and ripping off heads and playing keep-away with the villager’s spleens, the visual effects are breathtaking. It is not all CGI, and most of it is well used, except for a few scenes where we see the wolf in full gallop through the forest. Then he just looks like an overgrown hairy mutt.
The Wolfman is not a movie for the weak at heart or those with sensitive eyes, for every time the Wolfman appears expect to see exposed intestines, stomachs, and plenty of heads being clawed off. However, in a world where werewolves have been co-opted to such an extent that they sometimes exist solely to kill vampires (New Moon), a return to the classic, spooky lore that originally made them terrifying is a welcome departure. Furthermore, it is the perfect antidote to anyone sick of sappy films on Valentine’s Day weekend. Flaws and all, it is still an intense, gory good time and deserves at least a one-time watch.