Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review - The Wolfman (2010)

“Terrible things Lawrence, you've done terrible things.”

Director: Joe Johnston
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt & Hugo Weaving
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self

Last week it was vampires, this week we have werewolves thanks to the movie The Wolfman. In the story we have Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) coming back to his father’s estate after his brother is killed by what seems a wild beast. Of course it’s no beast, it’s a werewolf and thanks to a bite received from the monster Lawrence has a very hairy future ahead of him.

When I heard that Benicio Del Toro was going to do this movie it made its way to my must watch list, and it seems like most of the movies I want to watch it got hampered by reshoots and lots of other funky problems. But I kept the faith, finally watched the movie and came away feeling pretty happy. I say pretty happy as while I was entertained there were flaws that just got on my nerves.

On the positive this movie looks great; the Victorian set pieces really evoke the era. The moon plays heavily in the film and Joe Johnston always works to remind us of the ticking time bomb in the sky. Also the gloomy atmosphere is pitch perfect and reminds us of how sad the movie is, as the hero is the monster and as such there is no redemption. Mr Johnston also get a big thumbs up from me for some of the best dream sequences I’ve seen in a while. Wolfman wise he looks great and is a tribute to the universal movies of old. Rick Baker is a master of make up and I was surprised by how much practical make up was used in the movie, CGI is held off for the transformation and for the more difficult shots were the wolfman is performing beyond human limits. The CGI is not the best but any problems it may cause are quickly patched up by the practical. One last thing about the practical special effects; my god was there a lot of gore in this movie, they did not shy away from the brutality. Like the wolfman the gore was a mix of techniques but Rick Baker proved he could kick the ass of any computer. Acting wise I tip my hat to Anthony Hopkins who plays Sir John Talbot, father of Lawrence. You can really sense that he’s relishing the role and having good time.

I didn’t think I would be saying this but Benicio Del Toro wasn’t all that great in the lead role. Actually that’s not fair, the main problem is that he doesn’t seem to be given much to do, he establishes the character of Lawrence more aptly in the quieter moments but I wanted to know more, I wanted to see more of Lawrence so I could get behind the character and his horrific journey. Hugo Weaving as Detective Abberline was fine but the way he delivered lines reminded me sometimes of Agent Smith, at one point in the movie he says ‘Mr Talbot’ and for a minute I thought Benicio and Hugo were about to drop the Kung Fu moves. The major problem of the movie is it felt like two movies. I’m not sure how much the reshoots affected the end product but there just seems to be a lot of plot dropped by the way side and more action chucked in. From the point of Lawrence being bitten there seems to be a huge jump to Lawrence believing he’s cursed. There really isn’t much to connect the two points and just seems scenes were chopped to get to the point of transformation. The love story that also develops between Lawrence and Gwen (Emily Blunt) seems rushed and I had trouble believing in it.

If you like werewolf movies then you should give The Wolfman a look as it’s far from terrible, gore wise it’s not afraid to show you the brutal nature of the beast; also considering the calibre of werewolf movies of late this is a vast improvement. Entertaining? Sure. Thought provoking? Could have been. I’ll recommend this movie but only if you’re into horror, anyone else may find the movie a bit to shallow thanks to its rush to the disembowelment

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