The Wolfman

Sitting Through This is a Curse

         
 

12 February 2010| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Wretched and protractedly long. After The Wolfman you would very much start to think that a full moon was every night, night after night, or that a screenplay can mandate sun and moon cycles as it pleases. But that is just one of many, many mistakes that this latest creature feature makes. It is far less crucial to its failure than its inability to make you feel concerned for its characters.

This is a movie where Benicio del Toro (“Traffic,” “Sin City”) and Anthony Hopkins (“Fracture,” “Red Dragon”) play father and son Talbot, both infected in one time or another, with… a curse. They inhabit England in the late 1800’s, with dad the head of a castle manor that hasn’t been swept on the inside since the birth of mops and brooms. Somebody should hire a professional leafblower.

But enough about housekeeping. How about the awful film editing? And I rarely say anything about film editing. The editing here is so poorly arranged that in one scene I could not tell whether Hopkins was locking in or locking out del Toro from perils in proximity. The editing is so poorly punctuated that when del Toro has “visions” it is right out of a Japanese horror movie. The editing is so poorly executed that the final duel between beasts is a haphazard mess where we can’t tell who is shredding who.

In this sunless world that the movie portrays, the one luminary found is Emily Blunt who as the love interest is astute at reading the torn behavioral cycles of del Toro than anyone else is. Blunt, you see, is one of these beauties that sees the inner beauty in others. The larger secondary cast are disposable and featureless personalities, with the exception of Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”) as the detective who speaks his lines as if he knows he is the only one who could really be in charge.

Front and center, del Toro is a classic mumbler but that doesn’t begin to explain why he is so dull. The problem is with this leviathan actor is that he is only threatening when he plays an all-out madman with no soul (see “The Hunted”), but when he attempts pathos and sensitivity within a torn character he is not sterling nor compelling. Hopkins blabbers on with pseudo-intellectual diatribes, dispersing rhetoric with no rhythm or cadence, and the result is observance of a thespian actor putting on a lazy performance.

Action and scares are inauthentic because we hear a manufactured ripping sound on the soundtrack while the wolfman raises his paws. That’s right, he mostly just lifts his paws up and down, and then you see blood squirt everywhere. You would think that his claws were made of buzzsaws. More story and technical hooey: When Hopkins’ manor catches on fire he appears non-chalant about it all as if he predicts the outcome within a couple of minutes won’t make the slightest difference.

The only thing that keeps this film from being a complete disaster is the fact that the photographic effects of shadows and fog, as implemented in scenes both of forest and city cobblestone, at least seem spooky. That’s something, because the make-up effects (by Rick Baker no less) are not that remarkable. The Talbot transformation to wolfman is done well and more than adequately so, but come on… it’s nothing new!

103 Minutes. Rated R.

HORROR / CREATURE FEATURE / LATE NIGHT YAWNS

Film Cousins: “The Wolf Man” (1941); “An American Werewolf in London” (1981); “Wolf” (1994); “Dog Soldiers” (2002, Great Britain).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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