Release Date: January 27th, 2010 (Rome premiere)
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self
Based on: The Wolf Man by Curt Siodmak
Music by: Danny Elfman
Cast: Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving, Asa Butterfield, Rick Baker (cameo), Max von Sydow (scene cut)
Bluegrass Films, Relativity Media, Universal Pictures, 103 Minutes
“I will kill all of you!” – Lawrence Talbot
Critics and audiences were kind of harsh to this movie when it came out and for whatever reason, I never saw it until now. I’m rarely dissuaded by critics and casual filmgoers but I think I didn’t see it because it came out at a weird time, was gone from theaters quickly and I just never caught it streaming anywhere.
However, considering that this was a remake of a classic Universal Monsters movie, I almost feel like not seeing this for so long is a crime.
Having now seen it, I think that people were really unfair to it. I thought that it was certainly more good than bad and there are parts of the film I enjoyed, immensely.
I thought the cast was fucking great. The only really issue I had with the film, honestly, was that the story was a bit hard to follow. It was simple but it had little things mixed in that made it a bit more complicated than it needed to be. I think some of this is also due to details and reveals casually appearing in conversations where if you missed that one line of dialogue, you were fucked for the rest of the story. I think the wonky pacing of the film also had an adverse effect on the plot and how it just didn’t flow smoothly. For those who saw this in the theater, a poorly timed bathroom break, could wreck the picture.
Visually, I thought the movie was pretty damn perfect. I liked the tone, the darkness, the detail of the more opulent settings and how they used shadow and light during the werewolf scenes.
I thought that the CGI was generally good but sometimes it felt a bit artificial. I think this was mainly a problem when they were tasked with trying to make werewolf facial shots work in the dark with subtle, artificial light.
Still, the werewolf action scenes were great. I loved the first werewolf attack, which led to Benicio del Toro’s version of Lawrence Talbot getting infected with the werewolf curse. Beyond that, the sequence that ends with del Toro’s werewolf decapitating the cop was solid, as was the slaughter of the bourgeoise intellectuals in the insane asylum.
Everything comes to a head in the final werewolf vs. werewolf fight between father and son and man, I liked this a lot too. I also thought that, in this scene, they did a great job in making each werewolf resemble their actor enough for you to tell them apart.
Another thing that also enhanced this film was Danny Elfman’s score. I think it’s one of his best in more recent memory.
The Wolfman is a pretty decent Victorian era werewolf film. It’s nowhere near the caliber of considering it a classic, like the film that served as its source material, but I wouldn’t have been opposed to Universal using this as the launching pad for more Universal Monsters movies. Alas, and after multiple attempts since this movie, Universal still hasn’t figured out how to make a shared universe work, even though they invented it with this franchise in the 1930s and 1940s.