Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: The Wolfman

I'm sure I'll be chided by The Wolfman fans everywhere, but I thought this latest edition to the genre lacked teeth.

The story is well-known enough by now: Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot returns to England as an accomplished actor after having been sent away to America as a child following the horror of having witnessed his mother's tragic death. Apparently, he spent some time in an insane asylum too prior to his journey across the pond.

Upon his return, he learns of the ghastly murder of his brother, either at the hands of a madman or the claws of a beast. Seeking to learn more, Del Toro is attacked and wounded by the hell-hound thus setting up his own transformation, which was well done without the theatrics of "An American Werewolf in London." It seemed a convincing transformation and my own fingers felt stiff watching Del Toro's hand wrack into those of a wolf.

The subsequent hunt for the beast and the denouement were all rather predictable, even the plot twist, considering it wasn't much of a twist at all.

It wasn't due to a lack of an adequate set design that the movie failed for me, as Victorian England is most palpable in movie, and I almost expected to see Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes come striding through the fog in his deerstalker. But Hugo Weaving as the Scotland Yard detective Abberline was a sufficient stand in and Anthony Hopkins turned in a fine performance as Sir John Talbot, though sometimes I felt he was acting in a different movie altogether. I think my favorite performance was actually given by Art Malik who played Talbot's manservant Singh.

The movie just felt wooden and while I thought Del Toro's performance as Talbot was credible, as has been expressed in several reviews, it was so understated as to have left the character devoid of emotion after he is marked the curse.

There were predictable scares and jumps, and while many have noted the movie's gore, I really didn't think it was overdone. In fact, considering what was attacking people and the level of decay suffered by Talbot's brother at the outset, I would have expected more (maybe I was secretly hoping for more).

I wanted to like the movie, and I did, I just didn't love it. It was good, not great. My wife, though, enjoyed it more than I did, though I'd also say she wasn't wowed by the experience either. It's probably worthwhile to go see the movie, though I'm glad I was able to see it for free through my Optimum Triple Play Rewards membership. Otherwise I'd recommend waiting for it to hit your Netflix (NFLX) queue or the local Redbox kiosk and rent it for just $1.00.

It gets 3 out of 5 tombstones.



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