“THE WOLFMAN” (Benecio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt & Hugo Weaving)
This film besmirches the good name of Talbot & because of that – it sucks...
What a major disappointment to me – As a kid in the early 60’s my favorite night of the week was Friday when The Count would present late night horror movies - & my favorite monster of them all was Lon Chaney Jr.’s ‘Wolfman’. He was the best because most of the time he was human; a brooding, tortured human, but a human nonetheless. Lawrence Talbot was cursed with lycanthropy after trying to save someone’s life. A good Samaritan; a sweet, gentle man who wouldn’t hurt a soul prior to being bitten by the old gypsy woman’s werewolf son. That was the Wolfman I loved as a child. So I was anticipating this remake with glee – A great story told with superior acting & special effects which would make the Wolfman actually look ‘real’.
Then director Joe Johnston stepped in & ruined the whole thing (With help from screenplay writers Andrew Walker & David Self, the basterds!)
Where do I begin in telling you the many ways in which this wonderful story was desecrated by these three numbskulls?
My opening line tells it all, actually, but I won’t spoil the ‘climax’ for you if you are planning to see this hack-job remake.
& the upgrade in acting? Didn’t happen – Anthony Hopkins skulk around as if he were trapped inside an uninspired slasher flick... which, it turns out, he was.
I thought Del Toro’s style would fit Larry Talbot to a tee, but he played the role like a moody 1890’s B-Rated theatre actor with no substance & no flare... which is not surprising since the screenplay writers decided to make Lawrence a B-Rated theatre actor.
The original also worked as a touching love story, Lawrence meets a charming young lady in a gift shop & buys a cane with a silver wolf’s head for the handle – he is smitten, as is she, even though she has a fiancé. Emily Blunt does well with what she’s given, but a mistake is made by making her Lawrence’s missing brother’s fiancé; hence, to have them fall as madly in love as they needed to in order to make the story work, the writers made the coupling awkward & a little bit sick when brother Ben’s mangled body is discovered in a ditch a few days after his disappearance.
Another mistake was made by having everyone in the village believe in werewolves & know everything about them – Sure, it was common knowledge in 1890’s England that werewolves roamed the moors of every Coventry & village – the suspense of the original was that No One knew what type of ‘animal’ was doing the killing & the discovery of a man turning into a wolf was horrifying.
There is one excellent scene where a psychiatrist attempts to ‘cure’ Lawrence of his delusion that he becomes a monster when the moon is full, but the ‘gore-fest’ of sickening violence that follows was more than a little disturbing – It was as if Johnston felt he couldn’t just make Larry’s transformation into a wolf the key special effect, he had to show the wolfman biting into people’s chests & ripping out their beating hearts (& other organs)
Yes, the gore is piled on thick, so if you have a queasy stomach about seeing throats ripped open, entrails spilling out from victim’s stomachs after being ‘slashed’ by wolfy’s huge claws, then you’d better steer clear of this blood bath & beyond...
If you care about such things - & I normally don’t – but the movie did LOOK impressive; the recreation of England in the 1890’s & the foreboding ‘Talbot Hall’ gave the film the correct feel... to bad the writing stunk.
There were also some unanswered questions – major unanswered questions concerning the werewolf that attacked Lawrence – the ending may have revealed what happened, but it’s never brought up & it should have been.
Another scene that did have an impact – it sent shivers up my spine when I saw it in the HBO ‘First Look’ special – was when Lawrence, the werewolf, leaps on top of Emily Blunt’s Elizabeth as she pleads “Lawrence, you KNOW me!” with tears in her eyes. As a clip it was powerful, but with the way the screenplay writers mangled the story, it would have been a joke for Elizabeth to say, “I Love You, Lawrence.” & that’s what the scene needed – it was like the writers just didn’t ‘get’ what this story was actually about... what a pair of douche bags.