The Wolfman review
By Chris Birkmeier
When it comes to monster movies- especially werewolf films- I’m a huge nerd. I’m talking An American Werewolf in London and Thriller. These things scared the shit out of me as a child and in some part of me, that fear still lingers. When I heard The Wolfman was being remade with Benicio Del Toro as the lead, I could hardly contain my excitement. And after seeing the trailer, I was convinced it would be a masterpiece.
Unfortunately, my expectations were way too high. Before it’s release, it was widespread news that the movie had been plagued with production issues; the release date was pushed back twice, and the final cut was re-chopped by at least three different editors. From the beginning, people were speculating disaster. While calling the final result a disaster might be a little harsh, it most definitely isn’t perfect.
Directed by Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III and Jumanji), this updated version of the classic tale follows Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) who reunites with his father and sister in law after his brother is brutally murdered. It appears a creature, or lunatic, has been terrorizing the town, viciously attacking and mauling the locals. Strangely, it only occurs during the full moon. Talbot decides to take it upon himself to track down and uncover the killer. What he finds is more then he bargained for; he is bitten on the neck by a wolf-like creature, and on the next full moon, finds himself transforming. Yes, he has become the wolf-man. Now he must decide between taking his own life for the welfare of the city, or finding a cure for the malicious curse. Of course, this is easier said then done. Drama ensues!
Really, the only great thing about this movie are the special effects. Rick Baker, the genius makeup artist responsible for Thriller and The Exorcist, took on the task of turning Del Toro into a monster. The creature effects are half practical and half digital, but they mix quite well. There are a few wide shots when you can really tell the creature is fake, but for the most part it looks great. The actual transformation sequences were created using very convincing CGI. The scene in which Talbot transforms in front of a group of doctors is quite a chilling moment. The bones shift, the muscles bulge, and hair sprouts- all in a very realistic, graphic fashion.
Besides a cool looking monster, there is plenty of great gore to satisfy all the blood-lusters. But if you’re looking for empathetic characters, original themes and ideas, and truly suspenseful moments, this is the wrong film. The dialogue is stilted and wooden; the subtext is spoken as exposition; it’s blatantly in your face, and most of the time feels preachy. There is a lot of shoving-down-your-throat using corny voiceovers and bad metaphors. As for the acting, I’ll say that I’m truly ashamed of Del Toro, who is an amazing actor. Of course, it’s hard to build a great character when you have so little to work with. I don’t blame them, I blame the writer and the director.
If you want to spend 10 dollars for some cool monster action, go for it. But don’t expect too much more out of this horrific drama. Pun intended.