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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.43%
Worth A Look: 3.77%
Average: 3.77%
Pretty Bad77.36%
Total Crap: 5.66%

6 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Wolfman, The (2010)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Fur but no fangs."
2 stars

According to legend, "The Wolfman" was supposed to come out in November 2008, but its release kept getting pushed back. They should’ve kept pushing it back indefinitely.

This famously troubled production went through a number of potential directors before getting stuck with Joe Johnston, a hack who generally brings nothing of himself — no personality and certainly no vision — to his work. If ever a movie needed some true wildness, it’s The Wolfman, traditionally a story of the base, animal urges all humans have and usually repress. What we get is an over-edited mess that tries to sell energy without having any — it’s listless and bland.

What happened? Benicio Del Toro as the lead, Lawrence Talbot, sounds like so natural a fit it’s almost typecasting. (He’s also a confirmed fan of the old Universal monster movies.) But whatever passion and fun Del Toro may have experienced at the very idea of being the Wolfman is nowhere evident in his morose, saggy performance. He looks puffy and sallow. Everyone else in the film, from Anthony Hopkins as Lawrence’s father to Emily Blunt as his dead brother’s widow, seems to follow suit. They stand around looking grim and lost — Johnston doesn’t know where to put them or how to use them. Poor Emily Blunt, one of the sexiest new comediennes we’ve got, spends the whole movie pining in drab interiors. There isn’t a laugh anywhere in the movie — not an intentional one, anyway.

The hyper editing scheme — can’t let the kids get bored, even though the film is rated R and they’re not supposed to be there — ruins what should be the film’s gothic moonlit atmosphere. We never get enough time to luxuriate in the fog and shadows — not that the awful cinematographer Shelly Johnson works much with mood and lighting anyway. Nobody on The Wolfman is on top of their game — not Danny Elfman, whose score explicitly apes Wojciech Kilar’s compositions for Bram Stoker’s Dracula; not Rick Baker, who designed an entertainingly retro Wolfman only to see his work “augmented” by CGI. About the only participant who comes off well is Gene Simmons, who’s said to have recorded a few howls.

In this telling, Talbot is deeply afraid of his own inherited, inherent violence, and afraid of his lust for the widow of his brother (who gets chewed up by a lycanthrope in the opening scene). But the subtext doesn’t tickle or haunt us the way it should — it just lies on top of the narrative like a wet academic blanket. After a while the movie just becomes a clothesline on which to hang transformation sequences and bloody slaughter, reaching its low point in a battle of the werewolves that’s like the big-boss part of a videogame. (This does lead to the film’s one inspired image, though: the Wolfman howling in the middle of his burning house.) I don’t know how you begin with Del Toro, Hopkins, Blunt and Rick Baker on a wolfman movie and end up with boring junk. I do know how you begin with Joe Johnston and an endlessly rewritten script and end up with boring junk.

If Universal really must remake their old monster films, the least they can do is hand them to a director who’s an artist, who is difficult, and who might make something interesting — even interestingly flawed would do.

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originally posted: 02/16/10 09:20:32
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User Comments

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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