© 2010 Ray Wong
A remake of the 1941 classic, The Wolfman harks back to the golden days of Hollywood, aided by modern-time special effects and an actor born to play the role.
After Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) receives a letter from his brother's fiance, Gwen (Emily Blunt), that he's been missing, Lawrence returns to London to help. Upon his arrival, however, his father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), informs him that his brother has been found dead, apparently tortured and killed by either a "beast" or a mad man. Lawrence vows to Gwen to find out who killed his brother.
Lawrence's investigation leads him to the Gypsies, where Maleva (Geraldine Chaplin) tells him the beast is actually a cursed man. The beast attacks the camp and kills many men, and seriously injures Lawrence. However, within a month, Lawrence completely recovers from his mortal wounds, only stronger and better. The townsfolk suspects Lawrence as the mad man since he was institutionalized at the asylum when he was a child.
The Scotland Yard hears about the incidents and sends agent Abberline (Hugo Weaving) to investigate. After another deadly attack by the beast, Lawrence is found wandering around the Talbot house in blood. Abberline promptly arrests Lawrence and takes him back to London, where they finally get a true glimpse of "the beast."
Benicio Del Toro (Sin City) is perfect to play Lawrence Talbot as well as the Wolfman. He has the physicality, the looks (if not a bit too obvious), and the mannerism. As Lawrence, Del Toro is understated, and broody, a tortured man yearning for his father's love. As the Wolfman, he literally roars to life and delivers a fierce performance.
Anthony Hopkins (Bare Knuckles) has the role of John Talbot down-pat. In a way, the role is too stereotypical for him to play, but the fact is he plays it so well that I can only imagine another actor filling those big shoes: Donald Sutherland. Emily Blunt (Young Victoria) returns to old England with her bodice and gives us a sympathetic and strong heroine. Her role is less of a victim or love interest and more of a savior for Lawrence.
Hugo Weaving (Last Ride) is rather underwhelming and uninspired as Abberline, who is practically Agent Smith (from Matrix) in a hat and overcoat. Geraldine Chaplin (Inconceivable) is in fine form as the Gypsy woman. The rest of the supporting cast does they job in re-creating 19th century England.
The script by Andrew Kevin Walker (The Follow) and David Self (Road to Perdition) follows the classic with similar set-ups, characters and dialogue. They've made some changes, of course, but the legend remains rather intact. However, it is surprising, given the rich source material they get to work with, how choppy the plot is in places. I wonder if it's the problem with the screenplay, direction, or editing. There are some key scenes that are classic horror, and certainly they do not shy away from the blood and gore.
Joe Johnston's (Hidalgo) direction is inconsistent. He successfully re-created the atmosphere, look and feel of both the period and "classic horror." At the same time, the pacing seems off. The editing is especially choppy. He also relies too much on the "jump out and shock" tricks. That might have worked in 1941, but not 2010 -- it just feels cheesy. I do, however, understand what Johnston's trying to accomplish, what with the traditional makeup (instead of CGI characters) and atmosphere, and I have respect for that.
The Wolfman is a throwback to old Hollywood classic horror and, by that standard, it has succeeded in delivering an entertaining, gory Greek tragedy.
Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving, Geraldine Chaplin
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self (based on original by Curt Siodmak)
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence and gore
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Script – 7
Performance – 7
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 8
Editing – 6
Production – 8
Total – 7.1 out of 10