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The Wolfman

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

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3 stars: The Legend is reborn......

  • May 26, 2010

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" with its dark themes  and expressionist style would later inspire other filmmakers such as the great Orson Welles and Horror/fantasy legend Tim Burton. in  the same era  a German filmmaker  F. W. Murnau's "Nosferatu"(1922)  is cited today historically as  the very first Vampire themed feature film  that later would be the stepping stone for all other vampire films to follow; the first Hollywood horror films. Included The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Monster (1925) both Starring the late great Lon Chaney Sr., His most famous role  was in The Phantom of the Opera (1925), perhaps the true predecessor of Universal's famous horror series. Theses films paved the way for other great horror films to follow including 1931's "Dracula” the first and perhaps the greatest vampire film and  adaptation of Bram Stoker's Gothic horror novel, the same year Universal also gave birth to  two  more great horror icons. Who today are widely known as 'The Big Three"   James Whale's "Frankenstein"(1931) and George Waggner's "The Wolfman"(1941)? These three films not only set the standard for horror they redefined it made it what it is today and turned a little known genre into one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of all time. Throughout the 20's-50's great horror classic were born  weather it be "The Invisible Man"(1933), "The Mummy"(1932), "Invasion of The Body Snatchers"(1956),  "Horror of Dracula"(1958) 20's, 30's 40's and 50's were the deifying eras  for a genre that today is consider  one of the biggest  jokes in the film industry.



Now in the days of remakes  the legendary Big Three  have had there  fair share of re-imagining or remakes(which  ever term you prefer) The first of The Big Three to get a true Gothic  makeover is the most famous  of them all, Dracula  with Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula"(1992). Coppola(most famous for directing 'The Godfather Trilogy') breathed new and  horrifying life back into the dead corpse of Dracula after years of campy incarnations   taking the fabled vampire back to his  dark  roots. Than nearly tow years later  the second of the big three got his remake in the grand tradition of Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Mary Shelly's classic horror novel "Frankenstein", Kenneth Branagh's vision of  Frankenstein   is much closer to the source material than  the 1931 cult classic. Now I am not saying that Branagh’s version is superior to the 1931 version (but in some ways Branagh's vision is superior and in other ways it is not)   Branagh created a twisted and chaotic tale in the true fashion of Mary Shelly's dark Gothic horror novel. Successfully outgunning  John  Whale's beloved classic  but too no avail  it was looked down on as inferior to the 1931 film and was panned  by critics and horror fans  and fans of Mary Shelly's original vision of terror  but too me it lives up to it's name. Out of The Big Three, the most feared and most beloved is not Dracula, it is not Frankenstein's monster the most feared out of the three is the Wolfman. After almost seventy years, the most feared out of the big three has finally found his way back to the silver screen after years of being absent, but never far from moviegoer’s minds. Joe Johnston's " The Wolfman" resurrects the fallen beast  after nearly 7 decades  it brings  the werewolves out of their campy incarnations(An American Werewolf in London, An American Werewolf in Paris, Twilight Saga: New Moon)  and   turns them back into  a fearsome  horror icon once again.



Joe Johnston's "The Wolfman"  is a film I had been dying to see when I first heard news about it back in the middle of 2009  although there was not much information I had high hopes for this film. After the new year rolled around  I was informed that "The Wolfman" would be releasing theatrically on Valentine's day weekend(Who's bright idea was that?) and I also heard that Joe Johnston(director of Jurassic Park III, Rocketeer and October Sky). Would be directing the film naturally Johnston does not have a solid reputation for making high-class film’s. Therefore, my extreme excitement for this film dwindled and I almost gave up going to see this film but for some strange reason I still went to go see it. Maybe in some way I knew this film would be much better than it was being made out to be and in a way, I was right. "The Wolfman" is in some way an inspired piece of work it evokes the true essence of the legendary figure bringing him back into the dark depths of tragedy and sorrow from wince he came. Johnston and his team probably had amazing ideas on which way to take this film and if they had used them this film would have been elevated from good to phenomenal. "The Wolfman" settles for good too soon it does not try to expand on the tormented story of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) it stays in its comfort zone and does not try to extend its reach, which in my opinion is very smart and also very foolish. By not expanding the story and delving deeper into the characters and the story of the wolf-man, the filmmakers limit themselves to such an extent that the film almost falls flat   when it should soar high. The only saving graces  in this film are the amazing makeup done by six time Oscar winner Rick Baker,  the amazing special effects and the dark moody atmosphere that enshrouds this film like a thick layer of fog  they all help keep this film from sinking to the dark depths of  the abyss that is movie hell. Johnston and his crew have constructed a film that works far better than it should and plays less impressive than you would have hoped.



I liked its gloomy, clammy, dark and dismal atmosphere how it uses those elements to draw the audience into its dreary world of mysticism, ancient cruses and human turmoil. "The Wolfman" works its limited charm on the audience but with it's limited charm it exudes some very effective  and  horrific scares  although they are almost boiled down to flashy jump out at you moments,  they work none the less but this film works even less. Its effective there is no doubt about that and the story they have is very convincing and actually quite good. But it lacks refine it lacks the touch of a caring hands the caring hands that would turn this conventional monster story into a tragic tale of one mans curse. However, I will admit that what they have here is good enough to keep any gore happy horror nut satisfied. However, it could have been so much more.




I do not much like Benicio Del Toro although I think he is an excellent actor there is just something about him that I just don’t like. In Joe Johnston’s “The Wolfman" Del Toro is not actually quite good although he is a slight miscast he is able to make the role believable under the enormous restraints and qualifications for this role. Somehow he comes out on top and give a  very convincing performance as the tormented Lawrence Talbot   but the blandness of his performance  holds him back  from  making us truly believe he is actually a werewolf(but look on the bright  side at least he is more convincing than Taylor what's his name). Nonetheless, Del Toro gives a very adequate performance   that   at least proves he can carry a film of this caliber and make it work. The rest of the cast including Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Art Malik, Catherine Balavage, and Hugo Weaving all deliver fine supporting performances in a film that may have   missed the mark by a hair but still mange's to hold itself together.



I am recommending a film that I truthfully did not like entirely  the only true recommendation I can  give this film  is that this film is  worth the watch despite the obvious design flaws in this film  it mange's to overcome them and succeed as  palpable entertainment that aims low but soars high. "The Wolfman" is a complete film or a very effective one in the means of storytelling but what it does have is a plausible air of terror surrounding the well thought out story and plot that were brought down by poor direction from director Joe Johnston and a mildly well written script. "The Wolfman" could have been so much more than what it was but for what it is, it is good enough for me, but I still wish it could have been more. 

The Legend is reborn......

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December 12, 2010
EXCELLENT review, I actually liked this one more so than most like you, although the original is the best.
December 12, 2010
Thank you very much. I liked this one for what it was a Gothic piece of entertainment. But there was so much lacking in this film that there is so much potential wasted on cheap scares and such this could have been what Francis Ford Coppola's "Dracula" and Kenneth Branagh's "Frankenstein" were, great piece of horror except this film settles for average too easily than instead of shooting for the stars. All in all this is a well made and beautiful looking film that could have been so much more and I agree the original with Lon Chaney, Jr. was perhaps the best.
December 12, 2010
Oh yeah that is so well said, in fact if I ever review this film i am going to quote you about "this film settles for average too easily than instead of shooting for the stars", very well said.
December 12, 2010
Thank you.
May 28, 2010
Your opening paragraph is real good. I like your review despite the fact that I didn't care much for this movie; you rated it slightly higher than I did. Nice work on the review keep them coming!

also I will feature this tomorrow since I just changed the featured reviews this afternoon. Thanks!
May 28, 2010
Thank you very much. As to my opening paragraph I could not for the life of me think of anything to write so I decided to give a small detailed history of the horror genre, I did like this movie more than I thought I would it is one of those films you like more while your watching than you do later kind of like "Transformers " or "Body of Lies" . But this re-imaging was not half bad. also keep on the look out for my reviews of the other two of the big three(Dracula and Frankenstein).
May 28, 2010
Wow! Thank you for featuring my review I really appreciate it.
December 06, 2010
ok, where are all the comments? what happened?
December 06, 2010
Nothing serious I was accused of being a plagiarizer. It's nothing really it all turned out to be a misunderstanding.
December 06, 2010
good. Glad that was settled. I figured as much when I read my notifications that your reviews were everywhere.
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 …
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.
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C.R. Lopez ()
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Member Since: Nov 6, 2009
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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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