The Wolfman (2010)

Now I understand... and it's time to leave the woods.
Now I understand… and it’s time to leave the woods.

“The Legend is Alive”

Directed by Joe Johnston
Starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving

Actor Lawrence Talbot (del Toro) is summoned to his family home by his brother Ben’s fiancee, Gwen (Blunt) with news of Ben’s death. Ben was killed by some beast in the woods near Talbot House, and Lawrence determines to track and destroy it. His father (Hopkins) seems oddly sanguine about the whole business, while Inspector Aberline (Weaving) of Scotland Yard has his eye on Lawrence.

As Lawrence pursues the beast, the beast pursues him. He is bitten by the werewolf and taken to an asylum, where he is forced to confront his delusions of lycanthropy by being exposed before a crowd of learned physicians at the full moon, which ends… as well as you might expect. Returning to the moors around Talbot House, Lawrence must confront his father, Aberline, and what is left of the local angry mob.

At last, he must confront his own doom; to be a werewolf forever unless freed by a hand that loves him.

What’s wrong with it?

This 2010 remake of Universal’s classic The Wolfman, starring Lon Chaney Jr in the title role, layers on the Gothic atmosphere with lens filters, posh frocks, fog machines and lashings and lashings of screen gore. Oh, sweet merciful Zeus there is a lot of gore in this movie.

The villagers are as dumb as rocks. They pretty much suss this is a werewolf thing in seconds, sort their silver bullets and dig a pit, but the pit is too shallow and one of them actually falls into it. It’s a complete shambles. I also have my doubts about the preacher who notes approvingly that the ancient pagans recognised that the Devil has power. I’m sure that’s not good Christian practice.

Sir John’s taciturn Sikh bodyguard Singh (Art Malik) is frankly wasted.

Inspector Aberline (here Francis, rather than Frederick as in real life) is pseudohistory’s bitch once again.

There are random Gypsies with all the trimmings – brightly-coloured caravans, coins everywhere, magic mumblings and all – who might have been de rigeur in 1941 but are a bit much for 2010.

I’m not sure how long del Toro is supposed to have been away for his accent to so radically alter.

Gwen’s sudden falling for Lawrence seems a little left field since they basically talk about her dead fiance and then he tells her to leave because it isn’t safe. He’s right, although it wasn’t clear if that was because the elder Talbot fancied her or resented her taking his sons away.

What’s right with it?

The werewolf effects are pretty good; you’d hope so, really.

The performances are all top-notch, even Weaving with his slightly dodgy accent.

There is at least no egregious shagging.

How bad is it really?

I fell asleep during the rampaging finale. That can’t be a good sign, can it?

Best bit (if such there is)?

Aberline sits in the pub and asks for a pint. The landlady angrily demands to know why he isn’t hunting the beast.

Aberline: I have no idea where the lunatic will strike next, so it seems best to stay close to the potential victims. As 214 of the 308 residents of the area live within 500 yards of this tavern it seemed the perfect place.

What’s up with…?

  • Inspector Aberline? Just because he was connected to the Ripper investigations he’s everyone’s favourite Victorian detective to get punched by monsters.
  • All the blood? we get it; it’s modern. No need to go mad.
  • The gypsies? We get it; it’s a classic. That’s no excuse for blatant stereotypes.
  • Lawrence’s determination to personally hunt down the beast? He’s an actor, not a great white hunter.

Ratings

Production values – It’s pretty, and Gothic as hell, but the gore is a little too much6
Dialogue and performances – wonderful performers give consistently more than the script deserves. 11
Plot and execution – It’s your basic story of boy meets girl who was engaged to his dead brother, then he becomes a werewolf, kills his werewolf dad and she has to shoot him. 9
Randomness – Aberline and insensitive gypsies. 8
Waste of potential – Simultaneously too much a slave to the original and too self-consciously different. 12

Overall 46%

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