Tuesday, February 16, 2010


“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.


movie luva said...

I went to this because of who was cast in the remake. I was not a fan about hearing it was being remade though. I own the dvd. I have all the main old horror classic's. Dracula, both Frankenstein's, The Wolfman, The Mummy and The Invisble Man. I love the old horror classics.
I don't know about you Terry, but I felt the acting was lackluster. As if the actors, especially Sir Anthony, just didn't believe in the material. Maybe even a little guilty they were trying to improve a classic and knew they couldn't.
I agree about the screenplay too. Joe Johnson is a pretty good technical guy. I looked up his resume. He's won an Oscar. That part was just fine. The story suffers. And it doesn't follow the original to the tee either. Many people are disappointed with the final product. Not just us.

blue stater said...

Eek ! Bad movie. You'd think that cast could rise above it but the writing is so poor, they just cannot. Hopkins ooks like he can't wait to get off set. Stop it with the remakes anymore anyway. They almost never are as good as the original.

Terry Reid said...

I don't know if I'd say stop with the remakes more than I would say 'stop with the sequels' because this film was perfect for a revisit, especially when you consider the acting talent involved; Lon Chaney, Jr. is no Benicio Del Toro & let's not mention Claude Raines in the same breath as Anthony Hopkins, & yet, their original 'Wolfman' was 10 times better than this, even with the cheesy special effects (Heres Lon Chaney, Jr. as a man; Uh-oh now he has a full beard; Look down at his hairy feet; Look up, he's wearing a wolf mask - Yipes! he's a monster|)
& I'd say calling the acting in the new 'Wolfman' lackluster is actually a compliment (the only one I didn't have a complaint against was Emily Blunt)
I kind of feel the same as I did after 'Invictus' - Morgan Freeman seemed to realize that the film wasn't about Nelson Mandela, it was about a rugby team & so he seemed to lose interest in playing the character(& still got an Oscar nomination???) I wonder if Anthony Hopkins read the full script before signing on because it felt as though he knew that preposterous ending would make the whole project laughable & so he didn't give a crap about his performance.
& B.S.er, the only reason I say I don't want Hollywood to give up on remakes is because I want someone capable to remake 'Moby Dick'. One of the best stories out there that's only been told once on film & it was extremely cheesy - It would be a daunting project but with today's special effects experts, 'Moby' needs to be retold with a realistic white whale, not a cardboard cutout...