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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 140: The Wolfman

The Wolfman
Na na na na na na na na, Wolfman!

I remember seeing previews for The Wolfman remake and thinking that it looked pretty cool. They had a good mixture of horror, action, and excitement. It didn't hurt that the cast included Anthony Hopkins, Benicio del Toro, and Hugo Weaving. When the movie came out, though, the reviews were not good and I decided not to see it in theaters. It was time to see if the reviews were right.

The Wolfman is a 2010 loose remake of the 1941 horror classic, The Wolf Man, starring Benicio del Toro (Sin City, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas) as Lawrence Talbot. In the late 1800's, Lawrence has received a letter from Gwen Coliffe (Emily Blunt, Wind Chill, The Adjustment Bureau), his brother Ben's fiancee, stating that Ben had been killed. Lawrence returns to his family's estate, which he hasn't seen in many years. He is also reunited with his estranged father, Sir John (Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs, Amistad). Lawrence views Ben's body which has been horribly mutilated by some sort of beast. Among his personal items, Lawrence finds a medallion with three wolves on it, apparently purchased from gypsies that camp near the town. During a full moon, Lawrence speaks with a gypsy named Maleva to gain answers for his brother's death. At the same time, local townspeople come into the gypsy camp to claim their dancing bear, whom they believe is the cause for various animal attacks. A werewolf tears through the encampment, brutally killing people and biting Lawrence. Gwen cares for him and he makes a miraculous recovery. Inspector Abeline (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings) visits the manor and implies that Lawrence is behind recent murders in the area. That night he turns, and kills local villagers trying to capture him. Lawrence is committed to the same asylum he was in when he was younger, due to seeing his mother's suicide. The doctor's believe his lycanthropy is psychological, but are proven very wrong when he turns into a werewolf and goes on a killing spree. It is revealed that Sir John is also a werewolf and had in fact, killed Lawrence's mother. Lawrence and his father have an all-out werewolf throw-down with Lawrence killing his father. Will Gwen be able to set Lawrence free from this horrible curse before it's too late?

This is my war face!

I have seen the original Wolf Man, but it has been so long that I really shouldn't try to compare the two that much. Why some say that there was no need to remake the original, I don't really have a problem with it. The remake certainly has of elements of the original, but goes off into it's own territory about halfway through. That's fine with me because the story needed an update in terms of today's audience which needs more action and sleeker production. I'm happy that the kept the general look of the original Wolf Man and didn't go for a straight werewolf look used in more recent werewolf-based movies like Underworld. They also keep the basic werewolf rules, following the full moon, silver bullets, and being released from the curse by a loved one. I'm not sure why they changed the name from The Wolf Man to the Wolfman. Maybe they made him Jewish. L'Chaim!

The story itself is decent, but it suffers from being uneven. One example of this is the character of Gwen. It felt like she was missing for about half the movie and her romance with Lawrence came out of nowhere. The movie also tries explain Lawrence's relationship with his father, but it barely scratches the surface and comes off more as filler. It's not particularly clear why Inspector Abeline suspects Lawrence of the murders, which comes off as convenient to the story and not logic or reason. There are some moments of horror and a few jolting moments of surprise, but nothing particularly scary. The movie makes up for the lack of horror with lots and lots of bloody action. There is a large amount of blood and gore for a mainstream movie. The Wolfman enough blood and guts for me to think they knocked over a butcher shop before filming certain scenes.

"Oh shit, I left the oven on!"

The acting throughout the movie is pretty good, but that's no surprise with this cast. Anthony Hopkins is pretty great in his domineering, sinister role as Sir John. We know we should be fearful of him, even if he's not a werewolf. Benicio del Toro does well as Lawrence, creating a sympathetic character for the audience to both root and mourn for. I could have used a bit more Hugo Weaving, who's mustache makes him look like a more dapper Lemmy from Motorhead. As I've said before, Emily Blunt's Gwen isn't in as much of the movie as you'd expect, but she is fine in her role. I'm still a bit annoyed from that terrible movie Wind Chill she was in, but she didn't annoy me here. The other big star in the movie is special effects. The transformation scenes look great and the makeup artists won a well-deserved Academy Award. Unfortunately, the movie relies too heavily on other computerized and blue-screen effects, making it look particularly fake in certain scenes. It would have been better to use the real night sky instead of a clearly fake moon. 

The Ace of Spades!

Despite a good amount of bad reviews, I didn't find The Wolfman to be particularly bad. It's not as good as the original, but it wasn't an abomination unworthy of the name. There are plenty of differences, but they do keep some of the heart from the original. The acting is very good and there is plenty of blood and violence. The story is uneven and could have gone much smoother for my liking. Overall, The Wolfman was an OK monster movie with some fun scenes. Is it worthy of the Wolf Man legacy? Maybe, maybe not, but it's still a decent watch.



  1. I wanted to check this movie out but I haven't gotten around to yet. I was unsure about the story line, I felt it may be a bit dull.

  2. Yeah it wasn't anything special beyond some good makeup, special effects, and some good action. Not as bad as some people made it out to be.