I saw Wolf Man this week, and my low expectations were thoroughly met.
Wolf Man is a remake of the 1940s Universal classic starring Lon Chaney, Jr. The remake amps up the violence and the gore. In addition, there is the requisite Hollywood plot twists and grand finales with cymbals classing, buildings burning, and heads being lopped off aplenty.
The plot is roughly similar to the original only in the broad outline. Prodigal son Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returning home after the death of his brother. After awkwardly reuniting with estranged Daddy Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), Lawrence investigates his brother’s death and begins to strangely fall for his dead brother’s fiance (Emily Blunt). While checking out the travelling gypsies for information, Lawrence is at ground zero for a ferocious werewolf attack where he is bitten but survives. Eventually Lawrence goes wolfy and discovers some shockingly wolf related family history before the overblown conclusion.
Wolf Man isn’t BAD, per se, it’s more just watchable. Edge of your seat suspense is replaced by “Eww, that’s kind of gross” gore. Your protagonist Benecio Del Toro and love interest Emily Blunt are frequently upstaged and outacted by perpetual fog, the torches wielded by villagers (not the villagers), and the full moon that stubbornly refuses to wane.
Other than the fire sale on mood and atmosphere, the primary attraction of Wolf Man is the supporting players Anthony Hopkins and Hugo (“Werewolves . . . are a disease”) Weaving. I felt Blunt and Del Toro were genuinely trying to give good performances, but Weaving and Hopkins do what you want out of a cheesy monster movie: Have fun with it, man!
I’d read other reviewers say that Hopkins as Wolf Man Dad phones in his performance in. But if that’s the case I say it’s more fun to watch Hopkins chew scenary over the phone than 97.2% of other actors give it their all. Hugo Weaving plays the Scotland Yard Inspector investigating the brutal slayings in the wake of the Wolf Man’s emergence, and he steals every scene he is in, despite not having a character to work with beyond his own gravitas.
Is Wolf Man worth a look? Meh.
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