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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.26%
Worth A Look: 3.7%
Average: 5.56%
Pretty Bad75.93%
Total Crap: 5.56%

6 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Wolfman, The (2010)
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by William Goss

"It Was Business Killed The Beast"
2 stars

It’s sometimes difficult, as a reviewer, to separate what occurs off-screen from what ends up on-screen. For example, how could anyone approach 'The Dark Knight' or 'The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus' without addressing the passing of Heath Ledger? 'The Wolfman' as a production has seemed to be every bit as cursed as its namesake – director Joe Johnston took the reins a mere two weeks before production began, Danny Elfman’s score was replaced and then reinstated, and the release date has been bumped back over a year’s time (rarely a sign of confidence) – but the film should be able to stand on its own and speak for itself. Alas, the end result is a rushed, atonal horror show whose seams are very much apparent and whose fate seems oddly aligned with that of the protagonist – this was the beast that no one could save.

In 19th-century England, actor Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns home upon hearing of his brother’s death at the hands (claws?) of a rampaging beast, and at the plea of his brother’s widow, Gwen (Emily Blunt), Lawrence attempts to pursue the killer before being attacked himself. An unusually quick recovery and suspicious nocturnal behavior soon thereafter make Lawrence the town pariah and the new subject of interest in Scotland Yard’s investigation of the matter, led by Inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving).

The 1941 original was a fairly simple affair, with Claude Rains bringing a sense of tragic resignation to Talbot’s human form and Lon Chaney Jr. bringing his feral side to legendary life. But now, Talbot’s love interest had only just been his brother’s, Talbot’s father (Anthony Hopkins) is more tickled by his dilemma than skeptical or concerned, and Talbot’s dead mother is given added significance in heavy-handed flashbacks and hallucinations that would do Freud proud. (John Talbot is also much fonder of referring to Lawrence as the “prodigal son” – he does so at least twice, if not more, as if we didn’t get the idea already.)

The attacks are much more violent now, of course, so much so that they lose their edge as the decapitations and disembowelments begin to pile up. Gothic horror slides into grand guignol before developing an awkward sense of gallows humor about halfway through, all while the plotting throttles forward towards the next scene of conflict, giving precious little due to characterization or tension and inviting a laughable amount of passing-moon shots in between chunks of story. Lawrence’s father makes mention of his “insane killer theory” as if he’d made mention of it earlier… though we’d never know it. When Lawrence first meets Aberline, he sits down with drink in hand as the liquid level rocks in the bottle that we never saw him pick up or set down. And every character arc is reduced to an on-off switch: Lawrence goes from worried to vicious in no time at all, just as Aberline goes from curious to determined and Gwen goes from bereaved to smitten.

It’s not entirely a matter of casting (well, it is in the case of Del Toro’s sleepy-eyed gaze and mumble-prone accent), or a matter of direction (Johnston have proven himself a perfectly capable action director with films like Jurassic Park III and The Rocketeer), or a matter of the performances (Weaving gets one tavern-set scene with which to show off his character’s cunning, while Blunt can pull off period costumes and loud screams as well as any actress out there), and Elfman’s score sure as hell isn’t to blame; in fact, it’s the only element around to evoke a consistent sense of classic sinister dread. No, more than anything, a clumsy screenplay and far clumsier editing are to blame for a pace that couldn’t be more hurried, a tone that couldn’t be more aloof, a plot twist that ends up telegraphed beyond belief and an ensemble whose potentially passable performances were most likely left on the cutting room floor.

At one point, John offers the following advice to that prodigal son of his: “Never look back, Lawrence. Never look back. The past is a wilderness of horrors.” Maybe if 'The Wolfman' hadn’t endured its own off-screen, it’d have more horrors to offer on-screen.

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originally posted: 02/13/10 10:59:52
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User Comments

7/09/20 Dr.Lao Not terribly, but could have been a lot better 3 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell good effects but the originals better 3 stars
11/07/10 Will Russell How much gore can you squeeze in 90 minutes? A lot if you completely remove a good story. 2 stars
7/09/10 bronson TOTAL CRAP!!! 1 stars
6/15/10 Pantheon Loved every minutes. Honours the original while bringing up to date. 4 stars
3/15/10 LP Quagmire No chain-saws, no hockey masks, just a good old-fashioned horror movie! Solid performances 5 stars
3/01/10 Durwood OK until it got to the two werewolves fighting; then it got corny. 3 stars
2/25/10 DK I actually thought it was a fun enough monster homage. Crappy CGI bear though 4 stars
2/21/10 Lenore Francois Good special effects, but weak dialogue & Del Toro is a miscast in this role. 2 stars
2/18/10 Robert Cunningham I am a fan of the old Universal movies, so I love it. 5 stars
2/18/10 Heide I love Benicio Del Toro! 5 stars
2/18/10 Danny Goode great movie 5 stars
2/18/10 Ryan How can you say the cinematography was awful? I thought the film looked amazing! 5 stars
2/16/10 Jaye Too many boring moments and too many stupid actions by the characters. Disappointing 2 stars
2/16/10 Apollo I am aso upset -- this stunk so bad 1 stars
2/14/10 action movie fan style over substance good production and effects but little suspense and no real scares 2 stars
2/13/10 Samuel Isaacs What could/should have been a good film, Fail's miserably. 2 stars
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  12-Feb-2010 (R)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2010


  DVD: 01-Jun-2010

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