Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Wolfman (Review)

     I had a weary feeling going into "The Wolfman."  The same sort of feeling I had going into the recent "Sherlock Holmes."  Both films tread on the hallowed ground of classic material.  You must tread lightly there and show proper respect.  "The Wolfman" fails to do either.

     "The Wolfman" is based on the original 1941 film "The Wolf Man."  In the modern adaptation, Lawrence Talbot, played lifelessly by Benicio Del Toro, is mauled by an enormous, man like wolf creature (...a werewolf) and, at the next full moon, the curse of the werewolf causes him to also become a werewolf, and the only one who can free him from this curse (kill him) is one who loves him.  

     There isn't a lot to the plot that you haven't see before, but if the story is done well and the characters are people we can empathize with, that shouldn't matter.  In "The Wolfman," it matters.  Let's start with the action sequences.  They are far too graphic, fast, and unbelievable.  It seems like the plot and story are just a contrivance to get us to the action sequences where body parts fly, shredded corpses litter the ground, and werewolves move like actors in a kung-fu movie, defying the laws of physics to put on a show which happens far too quickly and that is far beyond any suspension of disbelief.  The basics of a great story are there.  Lawrence Talbot and Gwen Conliffe, played here by Emily Blunt, fall in love and Gwen must kill Lawrence to set him free and end the curse.  We even get an a new twist on the story with Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays Lawrence Talbot's father, also being a werewolf.  Now the son must kill his beloved father to free him from the curse.  None of this potential is realized, however, because all three actors give us wooden, emotionless, and absolutely dead performances.  Lawrence Talbot has no love for his father, and the love story between Lawrence Gwen is never developed.  Rather, it's quickly and awkwardly established in ten second of exposition.  You are never allowed to develop any empathy or feeling for any of these characters.  They just stare at the camera and deliver lines flatly so we an all get on to the next, unbelievably gruesome scene of werewolf carnage.  While we can blame writers Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self for the lack of story, ultimately, blame rests with director Joe Johnston.  Anyone who can't get a decent performance out of Sir Anthony Hopkins doesn't need to be directing. 

     "The Wolfman" doesn't have enough action for fans of action films, the gore happens to quickly for fans of splatter flicks, and is awful even for a monster movie.  I wouldn't recommend wasting your time on it, or its inevitable sequel.  (Yes, sadly, the ending set up a sequel.)

No comments:

Post a Comment