The Wolfman: A Film Suffering From Split Personalities

15 02 2010

With several postponed release dates, a director swap, a host of re-shoots and re-writes, The Wolfman finally made it to theatres this Friday. In an effort to give werewolf fans a much needed boost (vampires have so far dominated cinema, and this year’s New Moon did nothing to appease true fans of lycanthropy), The Wolfman sets out to reintroduce this classic monster to a new audience. Here’s the breakdown:

Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his family’s English estate after the brutal murder of his brother. There, he must deal with his eccentric father (Anthony Hopkins) and his brother’s fiancee, Gwen (Emily Blunt). After being bitten by the same beast that killed his brother, Lawrence finds himself a slave to the full moon, unleashing a horrible curse. Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) is tasked with uncovering the mysterious happenings.

The Monkey: The art direction and set design on this film are gorgeous. From the misty forest to the cob-webbed mansion, the sets of The Wolfman establish the tone of the story wonderfully. Danny Elfman’s score is also very appropriate, combing the sounds of the period with haunting gypsy melodies.

For the most part, the acting was top-notch. As always, Anthony Hopkins was superb as the eccentric, possibly crazed, father. Emily Blunt played the mourning girlfriend well enough, and Hugo Weaving makes for a convincing, hard-nosed inspector.

Viewers are treated to one of the best man-to-werewolf transformations ever, even rivaling the Underworld franchise – the scenes were brutal and believable.

The Weasel: The evidence of re-shoots and re-writes are painfully apparent. There are three distinct films that have been chopped up and spliced together. All three films, if made to completion, would have been much better than the strange amalgamation that audiences are left with. For starters, the film establishes a creepy gypsy curse; however, this plot-line is abandoned half-way through the film. Then, there’s the obvious effort to pay homage to classic werewolf movies (most notably in the creature makeup). But this tribute clashes with the film’s third persona; trying to heighten the scare-factor, increase the body count and spill tons of guts.

The gypsy plot-line would have added something new and original, giving the werewolf curse an origin (there was an obvious place to include Lawrence’s mother as part of the gypsy plot thread, but once again, the opportunity was either ignored and rewritten). The violence did nothing for the story, either. Too gory for those with weak stomaches and not gory enough for those who enjoy it, the violence felt out of place. Not only was it unoriginal, it tried, and failed, to elevate the film above a classic remake to modern horror level.

The “epic” fight scene that ends the film was a disappointment. It was a tease; viewers walk away knowing the fight could have been bigger, better and more intense.

Add to all this the lackluster performance by Benicio Del Toro, and you have a film that confuses the audience, offering very little in the way of action or effects to counterbalance the film’s flaws.

I would have liked to see any of the three films (especially the gypsy-themed one), but instead, I’m left with what the filmmakers provided – a messy mix of plot that seems just as confused and cursed as the title character. It looks like, for now, vampires still rule the box office.

2.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Share your thoughts on The Wolfman in the comments!

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One response

23 02 2010

This film was so disappointing. It definitely did not live up to the hype. The graphics were unreal, but we all know this concept does not make a good movie. This may be Benicio Del Toro’s worst performance. Thanks to Anthony Hopkins, this movie was less boring.

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