THE WOLFMAN, 2010
Nobleman Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) returns to his ancestral homeland, where his brother has gone missing and villagers are being killed by a nightmarish beast. The search reunites him with his estranged father (Hopkins) and draws him near to his brother's fiancée (Blunt), however, Talbot's lager concern is the discovery of a side to himself which he never could have imagined existed ...
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Imagine damp, foggy streets. Large Victorian buildings, enormous full moon across the starlit midnight sky. Large mansions with respectable, noble residents. It seems that gothic horror is back, and if the Wolfman himself (Benicio Del Toro) has his way it'll be here to stay. As the star is lobbying to play his personal favorite beast, Frankenstein's monster, Universal are prepping to revive the monster genre that made them the industry leader once upon a time.
This new 21st Century Wolfman takes all the great things from the classic horror of the same name but changes a lot of details to keep fans of the classic guessing. The movie begins with Del Toro's character returning to England upon hearing of his brother's death. The problem is his brother’s been mutilated beyond recognition, by what many of the locals believe to be an inhuman creature. Many believe that whatever the cause, may be linked to the gypsies that recently arrived in the village. This leads our curious hero to go investigate in the woods where the gypsies have taken refuge. Unfortunately, the beast appears and, suffices to say, brutally attacks our hero. And we all know what usually happens when you survive an attack by a large wolf-like creature.
I won't go beyond this point as I may accidentally spoil certain things, however it is a surprisingly fun ride, if anything. Unfortunately, it's not going to be the scariest film you've ever seen, especially if you're unfamiliar with the original in which case you may find the monster design more amusing than scary. However, if you know a thing or two about the classics, you'll realize that they couldn't have been more faithful in designing the creature without resorting to the clichÈd giant wolf seen in most modern werewolf movies rather than man that looks like he's literally mutated into a wolf like creature.
The production value of the movie has been a treat as it does look quite authentic being set in the late 19th Century England, however the make-up and costume department may have been confused as Del Toro spent most of his human scenes looking more like Dracula rather than the Wolfman with his frighteningly pale complexion and darker sleep deprived eye sockets than even yours truly. And all this before even being attacked by the monster. His bowl cut hairstyle didn't do him many favors, either. His acting, on the other hand did, as it held the movie together without resorting into a semi-comedy, which the original did feel like in certain areas.
The supporting cast also did a decent job entertaining as his father, Anthony Hopkins, was amusing as the reclusive, mysterious yet dryly funny character whilst Emily Blunt played the horrified but dedicated love interest. Matrix fans will be amused to see their beloved Agent Smith as the detective suspicious of the hero, and the action in the second half should be enough to keep them awake.
Joe Johnston of Jurassic Park 3 fame does a noticeably better job in the horror and chiller department as the suspense is always present, the action scenes roll and the slow scenes don’t necessarily slow down the entire pace of the movie, which many other film-makers accidentally do. I strongly urge you not to judge this movie’s potential on the less than stellar Jurassic Park sequel as both are completely different ball games.
All in all, it's not exactly intended as an art-house film so, naturally, I wouldn't go in expecting something life altering. However, if you're looking to spend some time relaxing with a bag of popcorn watching crazy visual effects, you can find a lot of worse things to spend your money on. I only give it a 3.5 out of 5 as whilst it was a fun ride, I'm not sure the movie has enough re-watchable factor, which a film like this should probably have. But it's more than worth a once over. Go watch it, but leave the kids at home.