1 hour, 42 minutes
Second Run Seats
American actor Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro, Big Top Pee-wee) receives a letter from his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria), urging him to return home and aid in the search for his missing brother. Lawrence returns to the Talbot estate in Blackmoor, England only to learn from his father Sir John (Anthony Hopkins, Dracula) that Ben's no longer missing; what's left of his body is on ice in town.
Lawrence goes snooping in the woods and finds himself on the receiving end of a werewolf's maw. During the month of his miraculous recovery, Lawrence grows closer to Gwen and farther from dear ol' dad. The townsfolk and Scotland Yard detective, Abberline (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix), start sniffing around Lawrence and his suspicious recovery until the full moon, and the beast within, come forth to put them all in check.
One word sprang to mind after watching Wolfman: elementary. It's not terrible, it's not outstanding, it's elementary. The direction goes through its paces; the story progresses, but lacks a compelling spark. A scene begins, the actors play their parts and you can almost feel them look around as they wait for the director to yell cut. I can't help but wonder if it was the intention of director Joe Johnston (Hidalgo) to give Wolfman an old-school vibe akin to the 1941 original.
The broad strokes of the plot are established in the reunion between Lawrence and Sir John. Their wardrobe, their placement in the scene, and even their interaction with Sampson the dog, telegraphs ninety percent of the events yet to unfold. It just makes wading through the next eighty minutes duller than it should have been.
After such a somber beginning, it's nice to see folks ripped to shreds by the beast around the twenty-minute mark. Wolfman flexes its fangs with three more bloody disembowlings; the second is my personal favorite, the third suffers from shoddy CGI, and the big balls-out battle is disappointing. Given the late 1800's time period Gwen and Lawrence's budding romance remains chaste, though the dog in him does dream of a sexy side boob.
The Money Shot
I'm not saying Wolfman isn't good. It's apparent the director and writers deliberated over the details. Maybe a more modern setting for the subject matter or less concentration on making an homage would have raised this adequate film to exceptional. As it is, it's a good enough werewolf flick until a better one emerges.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010