Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oh, The Horror! #46: The Wolfman

The Wolfman is a film directed by Joe Johnston, a remake of the original 1941 Wolfman movie that starred horror scream king Lon Chaney, Jr. I'm going to start off this review by saying that I wasn't a HUGE fan of the original film when I first saw it. There were some shots I absolutely loved next to the setting and the mood presented in the film. The foggy forest? Just masterful. Chaney, Jr. as Larry Talbot was very appealing and of course you had the great Bela Lugosi making an appearance. This movie stars Benicio del Toro, one of my favorite actors, as Larry Talbot, a popular stage actor who is called back to Blackmoor after his brother is gruesomely murdered by what seems to be human... and inhumane at that same time. He is awkwardly reunited with his father (Anthony Hopkins) and meets his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) who was the one to track Larry down. Larry promises Gwen that he'll find the person behind his brother's death which leads him into the gypsy square near the forest where a werewolf causes death and injury to a lot of residents. Larry bravely goes after it only to be bitten, thus leading to his cursed transformation as the titled Wolfman.

So did I find this to be a great horror movie? Does it deserve hype from the trailers and special effects? Is it worth spending hard earned cash for? Eh. It was okay. So-so. The movie had good and bad parts. But not terrible. Let me start with the good. First and foremost: performances. All top-notch and it helps that everyone in the film were very well, established actors who knew their craft. Del Toro played a good performance of a brooding and cursed Larry Talbot although that's pretty much it. Besides playing a very good tortured character, that's all you'll see from him. The character himself is pretty much nearly one-noted besides specific scenes which I won't spoil. Anthony Hopkins plays Sir Talbot, Larry's father, and actually nearly steals the show during the first half of the movie and makes some scenes very creepy. Scenes that you'd believe would be cheesy under a lesser actor. Emily Blunt plays Gwen, the woman who eventually falls in love with Larry and becomes entangled in the whole story of the Wolfman. Blunt added a lot of depth and humanity to this movie and became my favorite thing about in this film. Hugo Weaving plays Inspector Francis Aberline, an officer determined in bringing Talbot down and stopping the murders. Although I flashed a grin when Weaving entered the screen, hoping his arrival will mean "shit is finally gonna go down!" he's nearly wasted in this film. Next to Blunt being my favorite part of the film, there were also scenes of Talbot's hallucinations starting to plague his mind. Larry's hallucinations were by far the scene-stealers of the movie. They were fantastically gripping, all focusing on Talbot's fragmented mind as both man and a werewolf, nearly driving him crazy, mixing reality with the surreal where you couldn't quite tell which was which at various moments. I was near the edge of my seat when those scenes played out.

Now the bad... the film was a tad boring. While I felt the performances kept me some-what interested with some amazing shots throughout the movie with very excellent musical scores from Danny Elfman, the movie couldn't quite get me excited. There were a lot of scare scenes that were in fact VERY well done, but the plot itself just seemed weak in parts. The first half of the movie dragged. Yet when it seem something was finally going to happen, it seemed rushed. The film did a decent job in adding some suspense here and there, but the story itself didn't seem to fully sustain the suspense that was going with it. While I also liked that the movie sort of strayed away from the original film, there were many times I wish it sort of did follow the original. For one, Larry Talbot was a much cheerier and happier person in Lon Chaney, Jr's version. You were amused and charmed with him when he started sweet-talking and courting Gwen who was also very happy-go-lucky. Then there was the weird feeling when Gwen's friend gets a bad omen. In this version, everyone is so gloomy since the very beginning of the movie. I missed the happy Larry who's world turned upside down when he gets bitten and cursed as a werewolf. Now there are some twists that I saw coming and I know it would be split between viewers if they liked this twist or not. Some people would find it cheesy while others would find it a very welcome surprise. I myself found it a welcome surprised although I did see it coming from near the beginning of the film.

The special effects were overall well done. I appreciated the Wolfman actually resembling the monster from the original movie but besides that there isn't much to really say. The transformation was okay, but its the use of the special effects with the hallucinations that take the cake for me. Gore and violence were all well done and none looked cheesy or out of place.

Would I recommend this film? Not really. There are things in the movie that would be enough to entertain people, but it'd be very hard for me to know which type of people that would be.
I will say, though, that I was very happy to see one of my favorite shots used from the original. The scene where Gwen is running towards the right of the camera in the foggy forest. Although the beautiful atmospheric fog was missing, the nod surely got a slight smile from me. I'll conclude that although I wasn't a huge fan of this movie... it really made me appreciate the original a lot more than I did before. So take that as you will.


Jay Clarke said...

I was just glad it didn't suck.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm glad I wasn't the only person bugged by the fact that the entire cast mopes around like spoiled Emo kids