While The Wolfman may not have had the heart I was looking for…it redeemed itself by ripping out a few of them.
Who would have known that a soulless Hollywood adaption of a classic Hollywood story would have turned out not be a total train wreck? There are a lot of reasons people weren’t excited about The Wolfman. Firstly, it is a remake. However, since it is the retelling of a timeless story that has been adapted countless times, I don’t think it makes much sense to complain about a remake. Secondly, computer-generated imagery is featured rather prominently after assurances that full practical makeup would be used. Lastly, it’s Hollywood. Horror fans are quick to scoff at big budget, studio creations and such scoffing is usually justified. But hey, it’s Universal—the purveyors of the Monster era, so they can do what they want. Despite all the reasons to frown upon The Wolfman, I though it did pretty well for itself. But don’t confuse me for saying it’s a good film, because well…it’s just not.
Did I fool you into thinking there was a Wolfman video game with this picture?
I mentioned that the film was soulless. That may be a tad bit of an exaggeration, but Joe Johnston’s direction is simply uninspired. The uneven style of cinematography, the random camera movement, the lack of an editorial pace, the static nature of the characters, and the overall absence of sincerity all add up to a film that could have been a hell of a lot better. The script—for the most part—was great, giving us clever dialogue in the vein of classic British theatre and a unique rendition of the familiar tale. I thoroughly enjoyed Benicio Del Toro and Hugo Weaving banter back and forth, as suspicions grow surrounding the savage deaths of local townsfolk. Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt are equally fantastic…that is until the performances unexplainably do a 180 degree turn for the worst around the 45 minute mark. With a good script, brilliant actors, and plenty of cash, how could The Wolfman not be amazing? Poor directorial choices…that’s how.
Everyone just thinks I'm acting senile...
Let’s talk about a point of great contention among horror fans: the CG. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Sure, there are way too many scenes relying on an animated Wolfman jumping around buildings and galloping through London streets. Sure, the opening shot of a moon through cartoon trees has no excuse for existing. Sure, the transformation scene could have been done with practical effects. But at least the majority of the Wolfman’s onscreen presence is in full, practical makeup. The digital transformation actually looked pretty good and there were several transformation scenes, so practical effects may not have been so…umm...practical? While we’re on the subject of the Wolfman’s makeup and appearance, I can’t help but feel like the design was too similar to Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolfman. It would have been interesting to see a different take on the appearance, while still maintaining the overall part-man/part-wolf take of the original. Oh well.
RAR! Wolfman scary!
You may think I’m being a little harsh with The Wolfman and you may be saying, “Well then why did you say you kinda’ liked it?” I’ll give you one reason: the Wolfman tearing people the F up! Seriously. I was surprised at how much gore was in the film—limbs flying to and fro, gruesome decapitations, claws through the chest, and much more. What’s not to love about that? Although The Wolfman was never scary and never meaningful, it delivered on the gags to keep me happy.
I went into the theatre expecting a total loss—a loss that turned into a win for fellow gore hounds like myself. You may not fall in love with The Wolfman, but you will be entertained.