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The Wolfman

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

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Embrace Your Inner Monster

  • Mar 19, 2010

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 ever surprised and unaware victim. This was a completely different situation, though. The Wolfman had a weak movie foundation, at least in this adaptation, which changed the dynamics of the viewing.

It begins in the middle of the action, which is usually a great way to start a horror film. This was the most engaging part until the actors' performances began to outshine the rather shoddy excuse for a plot. Benicio Del Toro was an interesting choice for the lead role because of his unusual facial structure as well as his dark features. He played Lawrence Talbot, a successful stage actor. I wasn't too interested in the character Talbot so much as the actor Del Toro. There was something about the way he looked into the camera that sent chills up my spine. Other key players included Anthony Hopkins as Lawrence's father (Sir Henry Talbot). With Hopkins, I had the opposite reaction. His character was actually more interesting than his acting skills. I wanted to learn more about Lawrence's father, mother, and brother. I wanted to understand this family dynamic and Sir John Talbot's rather strange philosophical mindset about life and its purpose. There would be key pieces revealed at dark moments throughout the film, but they often fell flat or were never revisited or connected with other pertinent details. I often felt like Sir John Talbot was one of those mystics that periodically show up to spout some enlightening nonsense, disappears, and then only reappears to keep the hero on track for the final showdown at the end. Supporting roles by Emily Blunt (Gwen) and Hugo Weaving (Inspector Aberline) were overshadowed by the powerhouse actors of Del Toro and Hopkins. It didn't help that their roles in the movie added nothing of interest to the story or theme. Personally, Emily Blunt's character served little purpose other than to look pretty (thus attracting the eye of the protagonist) and provide a striking contrast to the monster(s) in the film (with her innocent and hopeful nature). 

The setting of the movie provided the Gothic element that allowed the actors to appear darker and more sinister than some of them actually were, such as Emily Blunt, who wears a lot of black in the film. It kept the audience guessing as to who the monster or monsters really were and how everything would be eventually resolved in the end. I especially liked the time period, 1890 England, in a town named "Blackmoor," (got to love the blatant color references in an already extremely Gothic film). The most impressive aspect of the setting was the Talbot residence itself. This was an eclectic and strange family with old money. Thus, the mansion was chalked with lots of exotic items that caught the viewer's eye during the close-up camera shots.

The camera action didn't "wow" me like it has done in other films. There was a lot of fast movements, and I did enjoy the chase through the London streets. Otherwise, most of the impressive scenes were achieved through shades of light and dark. The close ups with the cameras were effective at grossing me out during all the gory and bloody scenes, though. Fortunately, I didn't see much of these scenes because I kept turning my head in disgust (didn't want to throw-up in the theater). 

Another technical aspect that didn't live up to expectations, similar to the disappointing camera angles, was the soundtrack. It added nothing to the film. How is that even possible? There were some fast paced, heart throbbing music being played when the audience was about to be "scared," but that was it. Even that "suspenseful" music was nothing to brag about. This was a major failing of the film because a good musical score can often compensate, to some degree, for a not as engaging story. Unfortunately, this movie was lacking in many cinematic areas.

The pace of the story was, thankfully, fast. I'm not sure I could have sat through the entire movie watching blood and guts fly all over the place if it didn't move to the next story points quickly. The theme of man versus monster, and where those lines are delineated, was painfully made obvious even for the densest viewer. That fact didn't bother me, though, because it's a theme I enjoy learning about. I just wish the script writers had done more with it, maybe address some of the ideological influences that can turn a man into a monster. This idea was touched upon a little with the insane asylum, but those scenes flashed by in horrific snapshots. The purpose was to scare the viewer about the primeval treatments available during this time rather than any explanations of why and how they supposedly "helped."

In the end, I wouldn't call this film a horror. It felt like a "slasher" movie meant to gross out or excite the viewers, depending upon how much you enjoy violence and bloodshed. People die left and right, and there is little remorse or grief over their losses allowing a general feel of hysteria to take over the town, which creates a sense of urgency for the audience--no time to grieve! It felt as if the director and writer were using the movie as a platform to demonstrate all that technology had to offer for a remake. I also wondered if they wanted to capture the original essence of werewolves rather than the diluted versions that are becoming more popular.

If you are tired of the Twilight craze and the teen friendly depictions of "monsters," then you might actually enjoy this film. It was a refreshing break from the ridiculous drama those books (and now movies) sell. This was no "teenie booper" chick flick about a good werewolf in love with an innocent high school student. Be prepared for blood, gore, death, and some cool CGI effects. That's about all you should expect from this movie, though.
Embrace Your Inner Monster

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August 01, 2010
I agree with you that Del Toro was more interesting than the character he played...dark good looks that I thought were engaging. The werewolf scenes were creepy I thought; especially as quick as he moved, and the ability to walk on 2 feet like a man and then quickly switch to running with all 4 legs - I thought that was pretty cool. Like you I also loved the mansion; I was telling my husband through the film "Ooooooo I love that oil lamp!...and the candles......etc.); that was particularly interesting to me (wonder what that says about the film itself! LOL) Great review Adrianna!
August 05, 2010
Hi Brenda!

Thanks so much for reading my review. LOL! I think it says that the film script was lacking, but that the character costumes and sets were really interesting. ;) They must have had someone with a good fashion sense working on the project.
April 23, 2010
The original was much much better in my opinion but any way excellent review and honest.
April 23, 2010
Thanks, for reading my review, Alex! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) I plan to watch the original sometime. I just have a large list of movies to watch and review before I get to it, lol.
March 31, 2010
I could tell from the TV ads for this one that it was going to suck royally and apparently I was right. All it's flaws are evident in the trailer; too much reliance on special effects which ALWAYS means that the story is going to suffer. ( God I hate CGI!!) I looked forward to seeing this one because of the casting of Del Toro. I though he had the perfect face--one that would lend itself beautifully to lycanthropy. But I have to admit that casting is where both the original and the remake seem to have veered off in a strange direction. Anthony Hopkins as Del Toro's father? That's only slightly more plausible than the original which had the diminutive, refined Claude Rains playing the father of the hulking and rather brutish looking Lon Chaney Jr.! I won't be seeing this until it pops up on Comcast for free.
April 01, 2010
LOL! I loved this comment! It read like a review even though you haven't seen the movie. I had not seen any ads for it, so I went in hoping for a good old fashioned horror flick and was disappointed. I haven't seen the older version, but it has got to be better than this one. :-P

And speaking of Del Toro...there really was something mesmerizing about him in the film. Maybe it was the dark gothic aspect of it all. Whatever it was, I liked that element about him. :)
April 02, 2010
The original isn't the best flick Universal made during that period, but it still should be seen by all horror fans.
April 06, 2010
Nods. I imagined it wouldn't be, but there is something about seeing cult's a must!
April 06, 2010
And Claude Rains is always good.
March 23, 2010
When I saw the trailer for this, I wasn't too impressed. I'm not a big fan of the slasher/horror type films either, so this one didn't look all that appealing to me. I'm probably not going to see it. It's too bad that even the acting couldn't save the film. Yikes. If Anthony Hopkins can't even save your film, then you know something's wrong, lol. Good review. :-)
March 23, 2010
I like horror and a little squeamish about slasher flicks. This wasn't scary, but it was gruesome (which is why I maintain it was more of the slasher genre). LOL! I loved your last comment! Anthony Hopkins could have been better if his character had been more developed.
March 20, 2010
Superb review! Great day in the, a donut and this review! I agree wholeheartedly, in this case, it was an advantage for you that you haven't seen the original since the movie does tricks to make it feel nostalgic that it covers up the shoddy plot execution. I was a bit generous with my 2 Star rating (but then I am a sucker for blood and gore LOL!) This movie was stylish but in the end, it had nothing else to offer. Don't make start with its bad editing... ;-P Incredible work, my friend!
March 22, 2010
Thanks, William, for the high praise. I've been a little slow adding reviews to other communities, and I had started this draft a while back. I knew it was past time to finish and post it live.

I also feel like I was being generous with a 1 rating. I mainly gave it that for the CGI and the weird obsession with Del Toro.

Maybe someday I will look for a rental of the original. It would be interesting to make a comparison. 
More The Wolfman reviews
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.
review by . August 06, 2010
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 …
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Adrianna Simone ()
Ranked #33
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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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