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The Wolfman

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

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Pretty Tame for a Beast

  • Feb 12, 2010
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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 of the 1941 George Waggner film, I find myself longing to have every drop of blood sucked from my body instead.

THE WOLFMAN is a bit of a pet project (pun as fully intended as the moon that brings out the beast) for star, Benicio Del Toro, as he also serves as co-producer.  I suppose he saw the appeal as a potential blockbuster that would make the Oscar winner more of a household name.  The possibility was certainly there but he also should have considered whether a decent script was there as well.  Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot, a British-born, successful actor (I can hardly buy Del Toro as American, let alone a British-born American), who was exiled to the United States as a child by his father after a particularly traumatic family tragedy.  He has only returned home now because his brother has gone missing. 

The search for his brother leads Lawrence and the rest of this small, late 19th-century town to the discovery of The Wolfman.  That discovery leads to Lawrence being bit by the beast and subsequently succumbing to the curse that comes with.  The townsfolk are baffled by the atrocities inflicted by the beast upon the innocents because they have never seen anything like this before.  This makes sense to me.  What doesn’t is how they all seem to be familiar with Wolfman lore, like how silver bullets are required to kill him or how he only comes out when the moon is full.  If this is where the legend begins, how would they even stumble upon these conclusions, let alone know them outright?

Man and beast and the differences or lack thereof between the two is a central Wolfman theme.  Modernizing the tale though does not bring any new insight on the pairing.  In fact, it almost seems too simplistic to still be considered revealing about human nature.  Yes, man continues to struggle with its own animal instincts but these primal urges are all for show in THE WOLFMAN.  The tale was clearly only updated to present it with visual effects that would do the gore justice rather than reinvigorate it with relevance.  And as there aren’t that many fight sequences (waiting for lunar cycles to pass before seeing the title character reappear does not make for a great deal of suspense), even that purpose seems like an after thought.

Watching THE WOLFMAN means watching a lot more than just innocent people dying gruesome deaths on screen; it also means watching the combined talent of the ensemble cast being torn to shreds.  Anthony Hopkins, as Lawrence’s father, is a kooky old man who has lost his own plot, let alone the even thinner plot of this film.  Emily Blunt is as lovely as always but reduced to nonsensical character development.  And Del Toro, aside from his baffling accent, is never strong enough to be considered manly or fierce enough to be seen as beastly.  Fortunately, Hugo Weaving is on hand as the inspector assigned to the case.  Weaving brings that special brand of bland that, if we’re all very lucky and this film does find a sizable audience, we will all get to see again in the sequel.

I have not seen the original so I cannot fairly compare but I can say that I expect THE WOLFMAN to be about raw aggression that cannot help but be let out on an unsuspecting public.  Director, Joe Johnston’s take is decidedly different, focusing more on daddy issues and about finding the right woman to tame the beast.  With such insipid back story, I’d say the beast in question has already been domesticated.

Pretty Tame for a Beast Pretty Tame for a Beast Pretty Tame for a Beast Pretty Tame for a Beast

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November 14, 2010
How did I miss this before? Nice review!
March 19, 2010
Great review! Many of the points you mentioned here reflect the same feelings I had in regards to this film. I should be putting up my review shortly. I would love to know what you think of it. I'm rating it a bit higher merely because I actually liked Del Toro and Hopkins (but in strange ways, lol).
February 14, 2010
I thought Del Toro would make a great werewolf--physiogmonically he's halfway there already. But I'm disheartened to learn that it's literally a half-hearted attempt to update the original film. I'd hoped for a new film that just happened to bear that title.
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 . 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 . October 30, 2010
I loved how they pulled up an old school feel to this movie.
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
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #8
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … 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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