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The Wolfman

Director Joe Johnston's 2010 remake of the classic Universal horror film.

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The Big Bad Wolf's Return

  • Mar 9, 2010
As long as I can remember I have always been a fan of werewolf films. From the good ("An American Werewolf in London") to the mediocre ("Silver Bullet") and from the funny ("Never Cry Werewolf") to the just plain bad ("Cursed"), I've seen just about every werewolf film that's been put out. Of all of them, I've yet to see one come close to matching the greatness of 1941's "The Wolfman."

Hoping to revive one of its legendary monsters, Universal offers up 2010's "The Wolfman," a remake loosely based on the 1941 Lon Chaney, Jr. classic. It features Benicio del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, Sir Anthony Hopkins as Lawrence's father, Sir John Talbot, Emily Blunt as Gwen Conliffe, and Hugo Weaving as Scotland yard inspector Francis Aberline.

While the basics of the original story are all there, such as Lawrence returning home to investigate his brother's violent death, the curse of the werewolf, frightened villagers, and a band of traveling gypsies, the rest of the tale varies greatly.

In this version, Lawrence returns home with a damaged past. After apparently witnessing his mother's suicide as a child, he is placed in an insane asylum for a year and then shipped off to America to live with relatives. While acting in London, he decides to make a side trip home to find out what has happened to his brother who has gone missing. When the grisly details are revealed, he starts looking for his brother's murderer.

His investigation leads him to a group of gypsies where, unfortunately, he finds hiimself in the middle of a werewolf attack. He survives the attack, but fans of the original know all too well what happens next.

From here, he sets out to find the werewolf that has cursed him and also tries to find a cure. Without revealing too much else, just know that Lawrence's story is changed quite a bit from the original film.

While I liked many of the changes that were made to the original, I felt that director Joe Johnston fumbled the ball numerous times with these alterations. Johnston added a bit of arthouse flavor to many of the transition scenes in the film, and spent a lot of time on flashbacks that, while not taking away from the basic plot of the film, didn't add much either. Some of them were downright boring.

The film was also very predictable. From the beginning, I figured out who the real villain was and what would most likely happen. While this did not ruin the film for me, it would have been nice if Johnston wouldn't have made the story so obvious right out of the gates.

Johnston did get the atmosphere correct, initially giving the film a dark, gloomy and terrifying edge and then turning it into a desperate race for a man who hates and fears what he has become.

Benicio del Toro does a pretty good job as Lawrence. His performance is very subdued until his character starts to mentally unravel. Sir Anthony Hopkins did a very good job as well, but I've seen him give much better performances in other films. Emily Blunt delivers the goods each time we get to see her despite having a somewhat limited role. The other primary player in this story, Aberline (Weaving), seems a bit over the top, but still fun to watch.

The highlight of this film is the Wolfman himself. Rick Baker's make-up is brilliant. He updated the original make-up from Jack Pierce's 1941 creation, but kept all of the classic's primary appeal. When you see the Wolfman on the screen, you know you're seeing the classic in all his glory. When you look into the creature's eyes, you can see Lawrence Talbot begging for mercy underneath.

The gore in the film is on scale with many modern zombie films. The viewer gets to see human jaws impaled by werewolf claws, internal organs freed of their human confines, entrails and blood spattered all over the place and more than enough decapitations.

Yes, there is some CGI in the film, particularly when the Wolfman takes to running and during transformations, but the creature itself is all make-up, hair and Benicio del Toro.

Is the film great, not by a long shot. It does have a few boring sequences and a bit of stiff acting, but overall it is well worth watching. As of this writing, it is still in theaters. If you haven't seen it in the theater yet, I highly recommend you do so if for no other reason than to see the big bad Wolfman fill up the screen and howl at the full moon in the background after rampaging through London. It's one of the greatest shots I've viewed at the movies in a long time.

For fans of werewolves, whether you'r idea of a werewolf is from "The Howling" or "Ginger Snaps," I highly recommend this film and definitely recommend the 1941 classic. Horror fans in general will also appreciate this film for its terror and "boo!" moments. Action fans will also enjoy this movie.

I plan on getting it when it is released on DVD. If Universal plays their cards right, they'll release it on the night of a full moon. Highly recommended.

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More The Wolfman reviews
review by . March 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Embrace Your Inner Monster
   This movie was quite a surprise. I've never seen the original 1941 film, so I had no idea what to expect. I certainly never imagined what the film actually turned out to be--a confusing story and plot that relied too heavily on CGI affects to cover glaring gaps. I don't expect horror films to make perfect, logical sense. I prepare myself for the plot holes and actually enjoy exclaiming over the fact that there's no way the murderer could have moved that fast to kill the …
review by . December 24, 2010
 can see what Hollywood was trying to go for with this movie. Namely, a modern attempt to recreate the style of classic 1930's monster movies. Their first effort at it is The Wolfman, and they definitely pull that off in most ways. Benicio Del Toro does a fantastic job in the lead role, and Anthony Hopkins is naturally such a good actor that he can bring perfection to any role that he assumes. Lush, victorian-style visuals combined with bloody gritty violence also work quite well surprisingly.   …
review by . February 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
2 ½ Stars: All HOWL and VERY Little BITE!
   There is no question that the original 1941 film “Wolfman” was a classic so I would not even try to compare director Joe Johnston’s 2010 remake titled “The Wolfman”. I’ve read that the film had suffered many re-shoots and heavy editing, actually the movie had been pushed back to different release dates before it settled in on one. The film is a fractured stab at the classic horror film, it has so much style that gave it potential, yet the storytelling …
review by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I saw the Wolfman earlier in the year when it came to theaters with my kid and again recently with my wife on On Demand and thoroughly enjoyed myself each time. I have gotten kind of tired of these stupid, hipstery, over-stylized "horror" movies with werewolves that simply turn into giant dogs and fight people or vampires or whatever. This was a throwback to what the wolfman really is, a cursed man who turns into a half man half wolf during the full moon. This movie had the classic look …
review by . February 12, 2010
Pretty Tame for a Beast
 THE WOLFMAN Written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self   Directed by Joe Johnston   Starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving   Sir John Talbot: Never look back, son.  The past is a wilderness of horror.   Theoretically, I would welcome any monster movie these days that wasn’t about vampires and that also wasn’t geared towards teenage girls.  When that alternative is THE WOLFMAN though, a remake …
review by . August 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is an interesting new take on the werewolf genre. The movie takes place in the late nineteenth century England, and at the center of the story is a family that has been torn apart by inter-generational feuds between father and his two sons. The setting of the Victorian England is richly mined for its visual backdrop, and this is one of the more appealing features of this movie. The werewolf CG effects are very well done, but they are nothing spectacular. In fact, the CG-generated werewolves …
review by . May 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Legend is reborn......
Horror, a genre that has terrified millions for the better part of 114 years this fabled genre took its first leap in 1896  with Georges Méliès'  "Le Manoir du diable"(The House of the Devil) which is cited as the very  first horror film. another more influential  film that is now lost to time is  Paul Wegener's "The Golem"(1915) taken from an ancient Jewish legend, Than there came  Robert Wiene's The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" …
Quick Tip by . November 16, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
As is often the case with remakes of classic films,The Wolfman just doesn't live up to the original. While the film boasts an impressive cast, all of whom give strong performances, the story sinks beneath the number of uninspired action scenes and the overuse of special effects. Having said that, this is the first time in a mainstream American film where I've seen realistic werewolf carnage, which was rather fun. LOL! Luckily, the cast takes their roles seriously despite the poorly written …
review by . March 01, 2010
It was Saturday night, on a movie and dinner date with my wife with the kids at home with the babysitter. We went to see The Wolfman, with a quick Thai dinner to follow.      The Wolfman is the perfect kind of a movie for a night out like this. Nothing too out of the ordinary, a fairly predictable plot, and an old fashioned horror movie which reminded me of those old time Hammer horror movies I used to watch as a teenager. Imagine those old movies, but remade with modern effects …
Quick Tip by . August 01, 2010
I just saw this film as a rental this evening; my view was it had spooky scenery, some good visual effects, and I thought the werewolf was one creepy-ass creature, although there were not enough of the wolf scenes to really satisfy me. Lots of conversation in it, although most of it was pertinent to the story...more gory scenes would have made it better.
About the reviewer
Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #32
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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About this movie


Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman, is lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father, Talbot sets out to find his brother... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. Talbot's childhood ended the night his mother died. After he left the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor, he spent decades recovering and trying to forget. But when his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe, tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns home to join the search. He learns that something with brute strength and insatiable bloodlust has been killing the villagers, and that a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector named Aberline has come to investigate.
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Director: Joe Johnston
Genre: Horror
Release Date: Febuary 12th, 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Stuber Productions
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