“Even a man who is pure of heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright,” was written in stone in “The Wolfman,” a remake of the 1940’s black and white classic revamped for a modern audience.
The plot of the new version loosely follows the original.
Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) receives news of his brother’s mysterious disappearance and returns home to his father’s mansion in Blackmoor, England, after many years of being away.
He arrives, only to find that his brother has been found dead, his body ravaged by some unknown creature. To make matters worse, his father (Sir Anthony Hopkins) seems cold and distant, unmoved by the return of his ‘prodigal son’.
Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) is however, happy to see him. Although there is obvious chemistry between them, propriety and dangerous circumstances prevent either from acting on it.
After a particularly vicious raid by the beast, Lawrence is bitten and later begins to feel very strange.
The Wolfman arises, and chaos and carnage ensues as anyone familiar with the tale could guess.
“The Wolfman” is visually stunning throughout, with excellent lighting and beautiful sets that create a perfectly dark and foreboding atmosphere for creatures of the night.
The soundtrack, by composer Danny Elfman, creeps around the edges of the film and is appropriately ominous.
The casting line-up is also impressive, featuring several well-known stars. Del Toro, in the leading role, is as soulful and tormented as Lon Chaney Jr. himself, and Sir Anthony Hopkins as always is quite entertaining.
Hugo Weaving, though, really shines in his supporting role as Inspector Aberline, delivering his lines with humorous intensity. This is a refreshing change in a genre where too much seriousness can (and often does) completely destroy an otherwise enjoyable show.
The film however is certainly not without its flaws. It is a disappointment to see the likes of Hopkins and Del Toro struggling to make the best of sparse dialogue.
Excellent ideas and potential themes are also present, and together these could have made for an elegant and complex psychological thriller.
For example, the audience learns Lawrence has a history of mental illness.
The filmmakers opted for lots of violence, and CGI special effects at the expense of character development.
Many horror movies today are guilty of this, and “The Wolfman” is certainly not the worst. The havoc is, at times, legitimately related to the plot and simply fun to watch.
The film’s greatest failing though is that it is simply too ambitious. It seems very indecisive as to what sort of film it wants to be, and by attempting to please everyone across several genres, it comes across as simply confused.
Diehard fans of modern horror may get bored during the film’s slower, development scenes and will very likely see the werewolf, who is essentially a larger, hairier version of the 1940’s original, to be quite ridiculous.
Those who like a little more substance to their movies will appreciate the beautiful cinematography and the presence of well-known actors.
The film is what it set out to be: a stylish Hollywood monster movie, reverently true to the original, but with a few modern twists. It’s entertaining, but not particularly thought-provoking.