Reviews

The Wolfman

3

Not too soon to bark at the moon...

Snikt! Snikt! Aaargh!

Right from the off, The Wolfman bares its intentions to tell a (literally) ripping yarn. Suddenly, the beast is there in front of us, but only for split-second, only long enough to leave two savage tears in the face and belly of a man stumbling to his death through a moonlit forest.

This 21st-Century Wolfman now has preternatural speed, flashing across the screen, leaving only jagged slash marks in his wake. And director Joe Johnston doesn’t shy from gross-out gore: torn flesh, severed limbs, spilled entrails, gooey wounds stitched in close-up and even one poor fellow getting Wolfie’s giant claws straight through his gob.

But with a vibe straight from Sleepy Hollow (thanks to scripter Andrew Kevin Walker and scorer Danny Elfman), Johnston’s remake of the 1941 classic is more homage than horror. Lovely Gothic textures help disguise the CG that takes us to 1880s England, where Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) arrives at his estranged father’s (Anthony Hopkins) country estate to investigate what left his brother looking like abattoir off-cuts.

The meat on the acting menu is bloody ham. It’s carved off in chunks by Hopkins and slivers by Hugo Weaving’s Inspector Abeline. That’s no bad thing – there’s something unavoidably camp about a bipedal wolf in tattered Hulk-style clothes scampering across rooftops. But as he transforms via cut-aways to CG contortions, del Toro’s hairy incarnation seems caught between horrifying and humane. He’s not enough of either, despite the star/producer’s dark-eyed, insular performance.

That tortuous production history may be to blame, but this Wolfman bounds along in disjointed scenes, finally deflating on a Van Helsing-style monster scrap. There was definitely a better movie in the script, as Talbot searches his psyche to discover a monster id and a real beast in the basement.

Verdict:

An enjoyably bloody homage to Universal’s classic hair ’em, scare ’em monster. There’s plenty of gore and guts to cheer; it just needed more of everything else: heart, horror, affection and artistry.  

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Mattsimus

      Feb 11th 2010, 18:53

      4

      A real shame about the review, although the review is written well, i now worry that im gonna go see the Van Helsing sequal as apose to a new chapter in the Wolf horror genre.......i'll just have to wait n see till the credits roll!!!

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    • robphys

      Feb 12th 2010, 8:32

      1

      Watched this last night, and i have to say that it was one of the worst films i have EVER seen. the special effects are dire, the GORE is laughable and the wolfman looks like Bungle with Rabies. a real waste of acting talent, the characters are so think theya re almost transparent!! PAINFUL, dont waste your time

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    • herosthroe

      Feb 12th 2010, 18:16

      3

      Not what I expected after seeing the trailer but a relatively enjoyable yarn. A bit too slow at times and very cheesy but the overall look was fantastic!! You can almost see the original film beneath the modern FX and gore... Hopkins and Del Toro kept me interested for the most part but the ending was so obvious and cheese ridden I gagged... I Watched it as I'm a cinema unlimited customer but wouldn't have paid full price to watch this...

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    • DrPrunesquallor

      Feb 14th 2010, 0:29

      2

      The effects are awful. Benicio Del Toro, when not covered in fur, is cringe-inducingly wooden. There are one or two good scenes (the mental asylum & the lecture sequence) but everything else is miserably boring and predictable. We've had nearly thirty years to improve on An American Werewolf in London, a film which balances fear and fun almost perfectly, and yet The Wolfman fails miserably at both. The attack scenes are never gory enough to be frightening, nor clever enough to be funny. The result is a bloody mess.

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    • elijay

      Feb 16th 2010, 14:10

      5

      I personally find this movie fantastic. Everything you could want from a werewolf movie is present, and it conveniently lacks any teenage pretty boys with their tops off. The fundamental elements of the 1941 'The Wolfman' are all present. Gypsies, the love interest owns an antique shop and the afflicted have very bad hair days. They even kept the original cane that Talbot buys from the antique shop. The 1941 original, I find, is overhyped and this 2010 version improves on the general feel and smoothes over any of the continuity problems of the '41 film. It's unfair to expect so much from a movie such as this. 'An American Werewolf in London' is a werewolf movie with a completely different feel to it. Beyond the fantastic transformation scene, the classic also carries many flaws. It is implausible to compare all werewolf movies to 'An American Werewolf in London'. 'The Wolfman' (2010) has finally recaptured the atmosphere and production of the original and best horrors. It even gives a nod to 'Werewolf in London' (the 30's film) with Tibet being where the curse was contracted from in the first place, and, of course, when Lawrence is taken to Lambeth. Del Toro is perfectly cast, and, whether on purpose or by accident, looks like Chaney Jr. once or twice. Yes, the addition of Hopkins' back story and role is a little hamfisted, but I still felt the battle of the titans going on at the end in a classic Oepidal conflict. It's enjoyable, it looks good and there is proper loping going on, instead of monkey walks that so many bipedal werewolves seem to do in these movies. (PS. If anyone has any recommendations on werewolf movies, I am, in fact, writing a psychological and historial account of the werewolf movie and would appreciated anyone letting me know of any rare movies I may have missed.)

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    • scotthoward85

      Feb 17th 2010, 16:08

      4

      I really enjoyed the Wolfman; it always helps when you approach a film like this without expectations of seeing a masterpiece. I thought the tone was a little all over the place but I expected this considering the troubled production. A fan of werewolf movies, from An American Werewolf in London (still untouchable on so many levels) to Teen Wolf (my fave film of the 80s, so much heart & humour despite what Michael J Fox dismisses as the biggest mistake he ever made...) - I was looking forward to this since it was announced a few years ago. A wonderful homage to the Lon Chaney Jnr original (which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the day before seeing this one - if only they made 66 minute long films nowadays...) and a superb re-creation of late 1800s England. It was simply daft, but fun. I thought the action sequences were well executed and there were some decent shocks throughout - it was also nice to see An American Werewolf star David Scofield pop up near the beginning although he was devoured fairly early on. Elijay, the only wereolf film of recent years I would recommend, although I'm sure you've come across it - is Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers. Great characters, witty dialogue, eerie forest setting and best of all - men in suits as the werewolves. Quality monster movies can still be made without using CGI and even without the genius Rick Baker. Don't even get me started on the dreadful Cursed...

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    • scotthoward85

      Feb 17th 2010, 16:10

      4

      Having gone to the cinema with no expectations of seeing a masterpiece I thought this was a cracking werewolf film. I thought the tone of the film was a little all over the place but I expected this considering the troubled production. A fan of werewolf movies, from An American Werewolf in London (still untouchable on so many levels) to Teen Wolf (my fave film of the 80s, so much heart & humour despite what Michael J Fox dismisses as the biggest mistake he ever made...) - I was looking forward to this since it was announced a few years ago. A wonderful homage to the Lon Chaney Jnr original (which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the day before seeing this one - if only they made 66 minute long films nowadays...) and a superb re-creation of late 1800s England. It was simply daft, but fun. I thought the action sequences were well executed and there were some decent shocks throughout - it was also nice to see An American Werewolf star David Scofield pop up near the beginning although he was devoured fairly early on. Elijay, the only wereolf film of recent years I would recommend, although I'm sure you've come across it - is Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers. Great characters, witty dialogue, eerie forest setting and best of all - men in suits as the werewolves. Quality monster movies can still be made without using CGI and even without the genius Rick Baker. Don't even get me started on the dreadful Cursed...

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    • scotthoward85

      Feb 17th 2010, 16:15

      4

      I thought the tone of the film was a little all over the place but I expected this considering the troubled production. A fan of werewolf movies, from An American Werewolf in London (still untouchable on so many levels) to Teen Wolf (my fave film of the 80s, so much heart & humour despite what Michael J Fox dismisses as the biggest mistake he ever made...) - I was looking forward to this since it was announced a few years ago. A wonderful homage to the Lon Chaney Jnr original (which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the day before seeing this one - if only they made 66 minute long films nowadays...) and a superb re-creation of late 1800s England. It was simply daft, but fun. I thought the action sequences were well executed and there were some decent shocks throughout - it was also nice to see An American Werewolf star David Scofield pop up near the beginning although he was devoured fairly early on. Elijay, the only werewolf film of recent years I would recommend, although I'm sure you've come across it - is Neil Marshall's Dog Soldiers. Great characters, witty dialogue, eerie forest setting and best of all - men in suits as the werewolves. Quality monster movies can still be made without using CGI and even without the genius Rick Baker. Don't even get me started on the dreadful Cursed...

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    • HamishRowe

      Feb 18th 2010, 1:27

      2

      I'm not going to waste my time writing a full review for this film. I wasted enough time watching it as it is. Special effects were cringe worthy; Del Toro's acting was stone cold and to top it the story line was about as sophisticated as a door stop. Hopkins and Weaving manage to bleed some decency out of their pathetic scripts and just about manage to justify their involvement in the film.

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    • jimmycasino

      Feb 18th 2010, 13:41

      1

      I am a huge fan of werewolf movies. but this was utter utter rubbish. awful screenplay, awful acting, hopkins one-note performance was laughable from such a fine actor, and don't get me started on del Toro! i was disappointed with the wolf considering it was the guy who brought us the 'American werewolf in London' effects. the 'twist' was spottable from a mile away with your eyes closed. Two hours of my life i will never get back!!

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    • elijay

      Feb 18th 2010, 21:51

      5

      I'm with you on 'Dog Soldiers' scotthoward85, fantastic and one of my favourites. Nothing quite like men in werewolf outfits. Outdoes CGI every time. However, being someone who lives in Scotland, I am rather impressed they could be four hours away from Fort William and still be in the middle of nowhere, but easily overlooked. And yes, the less said about 'Cursed' the better. :) I still think 'The Wolfman' (2010) was not a waste of my time after reading the other reviews and was happy to actually to spend almost two hours watching it. The plot was no worse than the original '41 film or other werewolf movies (the aforementioned 'Cursed' for example).

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    • hood65

      Feb 20th 2010, 12:14

      5

      Come on people dont listen to film critics, make up your own mind.

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    • Satine

      Jul 31st 2010, 22:12

      4

      I was looking forward to this movie, because I like these classic, period horrors. And I must say I was NOT disappointed. Impressive with at relatively original story for such a potentially predictable movie. Not to sentimental, and they haven’t been cheap with the savage violence of the beasts. I also like their loyalty to the look of the original The Wolf Man (1941). Authentic and stunning cinematography, art direction and sound that will send chills down your spine. Last but not least, I think the cast was great. Emily succeeds in conveying a lot of emotion in a were proper and suppressed character. This is not a typical movie for Benicio, but his large, coarse physic and his ability to convey great vulnerable in his face makes him brilliant at merging the brutal beast and the tormented man. And of course Sir. Anthony Hopkins never fails to convey to me exactly how I should feel at any moment he is on screen. I have not yet found a way to break free of his spell, and I hope I never do. All in all this movie left me with a beastly hunger for more and I went straight home and put on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, followed by Bram Stokers Dracula.

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      Oct 29th 2010, 15:54

      5

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      Dec 14th 2010, 2:10

      3

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