Johnston's new version of the classic Universal horror pic The Wolfman
is an odd contradiction. It tries to capture the old-school
spookiness of the Lon Chaney film - as well as other monster classics from
the same era. Then it ladles on buckets of blood and gore which would
seem more comfortable in a Friday the 13th or a Hostel than in
this stately period drama.
ends up being an uncomfortable fit. The Wolfman has its
moments, but mostly it feels like an uncomfortable hybrid of styles - not
quite succeeding on either side of its schizophrenic structure. It is
too violent and hyperactively gory and to work as a period drama, at the
same time that it is too slow-moving, measured and passionless to work as a
classy update of a slasher film.
end, it all seems pretty blah, which is a bad place for a horror film to be.
disjointedness can't be called exactly surprising, though. This movie
was pushed back for over a year before getting its theatrical release and
stories of behind the scenes fights and refiguring is almost always a danger
Therefore a film with such truly talented actors and Benicio Del Toro,
Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving are stuck in a morass of very
slow moving exposition periodically broken up by frenzied action sequences.
I mean, I suppose you can have an Oscar-caliber cast in a movie in which
more than one character has his head literally ripped off his body, but it
seems a waste somehow.
course, sadly, Del Toro is a major part of the problem. He is majorly
miscast here - and not just because he is almost impossible to buy as a
British aristocrat. (I'm sorry, the hint of a gypsy bloodline does not
explain that little inconsistency away.) Plus, a scene which
dramatizes his life as a stage actor, which should be simple for most
professionals, also turns out to be a failure. Del Toro offers a
performance of the famous "Alas, poor Yorick" soliloquy from Hamlet
that is stilted and detached.
sense of detachment follows Del Toro throughout the film, whether he is
gazing upon his mutilated brother's corpse, starting a bar fight to protect
his late mother's name, fighting off a crazed animal or even eventually
becoming one himself. The man is a fine actor, he has proven it
before, but he is completely and utterly wrong for this part.
Hopkins brings much more life to his eccentric character of the family
patriarch - in fact before the somewhat far-fetched (and yet strangely
predictable) climax the old man was by far the most intriguing person on
fine actors, particularly Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada and
Young Victoria) and Hugo Weaving (The Lord of the Rings and
Matrix trilogies) are given little to do as the chaste love interest and
Scotland Yard Inspector Francis Aberline.
Aberline in particular is an odd character - a very unsubtle reference to
real-life Scotland Yard Inspector Frederick Abberline, whose nickname was
Francis. In fact, at one point Del Toro's character chides Aberline
for his handling of the Jack the Ripper case two years prior - which was
Abberline's most famous case. Are the filmmakers suggesting that the
real Abberline was part of a fictional story? Fair enough, I suppose.
But if so, why misspell his last name and use his nickname rather than his
real first name? On the other hand, if he is supposed to be a
fictional character, make him a fictional character. Give him a real
made-up name and backstory. I doubt there are that many people who are
familiar with a long-dead lawman from over 100 years ago that this kind of
game playing makes any real difference.
this kind of heavy-handed storytelling technique which sabotages the whole
enterprise. The screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker, who also wrote Tim
Burton's similarly convoluted and over-the-top violent version of the legend
of Sleepy Hollow, does not respect the source material enough to let
it breathe and grow. He feels an unhelpful and almost compulsive need
to over-complicate everything but the bloodletting, which is quick and
plentiful once it gets started.
the werewolf transformations, created by special effects guru Rick Baker,
pale by comparison to Baker's 30-year-old work in a much better wolfman
film, An American Werewolf in London.
However, perhaps I am being too hard on The Wolfman. The new
Wolfman does have its successful parts and some scenes are truly
scary. The problem is, the talent involved in the film had us
expecting so much more than a periodically successful scare film.
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: May 30, 2010.