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Review of The Wolfman

I was finally able to see The Wolfman starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins last night and I am afraid it did not quite live up to my expectations.

The Wolfman, a remake of the classic 1941 film starring Lon Chaney Jr., tells the tale of Laurence Talbot (played by del Toro), who upon learning of his brother’s disappearance returns home after many years as a traveling performer only to discover that his brother’s dead body has already been found. He decides to remain at his family’s estate with his eccentric father John (played by Hopkins) in an effort to capture his brother’s killer and avenge his death.

Everyone has their theories on who the killer might be. Laurence believes it could be the work of a madman, the locals believe that somehow the band of gypsies camped outside of town are to blame and the gypsies believe that Laurence’s brother was slain by a werewolf. Inspector Francis Aberline (played by Hugo Weaving) however believes that Laurence himself is to blame and is willing to do whatever it takes to prove it.

I’m afraid I found the film rather slow going and at just over one and a half hours The Wolfman seemed as if it went on much longer. The actors seemed to do their best with the materials they were given, with both del Toro and Weaving providing great performances but as I mentioned the film seemed to drag on much more than it needed to.

The sets, costumes and special effects were first rate with the transformation of del Toro into the werewolf paying homage to Chaney’s transformation in the original film. Instead of choosing the more ‘wolf like’ transformations that are common place thanks to the popularity of such films as Underworld and New Moon, The Wolfman’s transformations remained more humanoid which actually managed to make del Toro’s werewolf quite sympathetic.

In fact I found myself particularity sympathizing with del Toro after Talbot is captured and locked away in the same insane asylum in which he spent his childhood after witnessing the death of his mother. Upon being captured and declared delusional for believing that he was attacked by a werewolf and is therefore now one himself Talbot is subjected to different tortures masquerading as treatments in order to ‘cure’ him. He is mocked relentlessly by his captors, until of course the full moon rises.

There are many differences between this Wolfman and the original including Talbot’s capture and I believe that it is more accurate to call this film an homage rather than a remake. Is it as good as the original? It’s really up to the viewer to decide. While The Wolfman will probably not be winning any Oscars it’s still not a bad way to spend an evening.

-Chris

5 replies on “Review of The Wolfman”

I’m writing a novel about modern werewolves and this movie changed so much of what I thought. I figured I knew how the movie would go since I read the book but it turned out the “novelization” was better. I was so upset because the whole time during the movie I picked at it, breaking it down and comparing it to the book. My boyfriend took me to see it the day before Valentine’s Day and I hated it. The movie was great if you didn’t know anything about the book or werewolves themselves. Also, if you didn’t know much about GOOD werewolf movies and stories in general you would be fine. The movie left out so many key points that contributed to the movie it’s not funny.

First of all Chris I am with you on your comments. I had some of the same thoughts. I still like the movie for what it is. The make-up and sets could not have been any better. I personally had reservations at first about del Toro but, he did a fine job.
I did like the twist with the father. I guess I was so caught up in the movie that it did not occur to me. I do prefer werewolves to look like they are portrayed in this movie, and to Skin Walkers and The Howling. For me so called werewolves like in New Moon, Blood and Chocolate are just Shape shifters and not Werewolves. The Werewolves in Dog Soldiers were ok. Of course this is just my opinion.

I am going to have to buy the book now, based on Natalie comments

I swear to god the wolfman just droned on and on and on. I mean, alright! We get it! He’s a wolf! He’s changing back in forth! He loves a girl! Get it over with!

As a big fan of Lon Chaney’s Wolf Man (1941) and werewolves in general, I also had high expectations for this remake. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. The film was stale and the CGI effects (Wolfman racing across the rooftops like a cartoon character) ruined it in my opinion.

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