23 February 2010
Quick Reviews - The Wolfman
I'm not a connoisseur of monster movies. Though I have respect for those classic creations that were the predecessors to the modern movie terrors with which I grew up-- Predator, the Alien, Jason and so on-- I can count on two hands the number of movies made before 1950 that I've sat all the way through. Therefore, I approached The Wolfman with no expectations and no basis for comparison to the original film legend.
I enjoyed the film quite a bit. It was a moody story with several intense action scenes and a lot of appropriately grotesque death. The narrative is pretty traditional (some would say predictable), but the great cast of actors compensate for that, making it feel more like a classic play reenacted by new performers. It was also fittingly atmospheric without being over the top, as it may have been if directed by, say, Tim Burton.
Benicio Del Toro stars as the titular cursed man-beast, backed up by the mesmerizing Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins. Weaving's character pursues the Wolfman while Hopkins presents a challenge of a different sort for the protagonist (more would spoil the plot). I mentioned some great action scenes; my favorite involves an asylum breakout after Talbot character has spent an unknown amount of time suffering electrocutions and ice immersions as the late 19th century doctors try to rid him of the "delusion" that he is part beast. There is a love interest who is involved just enough without hijacking the plot.
I was particularly impressed that the filmmakers didn't tinker too much with the overall look of the Wolfman. Too often these remakes try to reinvent the wheel, but in this case, modern effects and intensity are applied respectfully to the classic tale. Naturally the film leaves room for a sequel-- one I would be very interested in given the setup. If you're looking for a solid horror film, bloody but not over the top, I recommend The Wolfman.