Movie Review: The Wolfman
Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years ago
So it’s finally here! After God knows how many production issues from switching one person to the next which covered much of every production job, all through push back on release dates, but to much avail, it was completed and now released to the sheep in order to thrive off a roller-coaster ride of a monster flick. Truth is I go ga-ga over these types of films because it definitely takes one’s realities (like mine) and totally challenges them with a “What if” affect. Seriously, I’m more than positive a lot of us moviegoers at one point or another WISHED there’d be a form of life where monsters existed, layered with knowledge that if handled a certain way, the human race can prevail… the challenges alone would entice one’s reasons to live even more than the more cliched ones we have now.
I know I’m a freak and would love for some kind of unknown being like a “Wolfman” for example to exist. Imagine the rush it would cause. I’ve stated time and time again the same for Vampires and Mutants and Transformers etc… (lol) why not go that extra imaginary mile, you know? This is what happens when films like The Wolfman are unleashed and someone like me views it. I’m more than positive this film will raise eye-brows and cause much criticism from others, but in the end, who gives a shit?!!? I do not care what others feel “displays” a good film. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and with much pride I say I had a lot of FUN watching The Wolfman! This film covered every single aspect of film I look for in order to take care of my movie-high. Grrr…
I never saw the 1941 version; therefore, knowing what I know regarding The Wolfman, my feelings were pretty open. Intrigued, but by the idea and looking to throw myself into the blend of its recent story. I also never saw the Jack Nicholson version. Strange, but true… something about it never picked my brain for some reason. I’ve known about it (just like ’41’s version), but it’s never really pushed me to watch. I’ve heard GOOD mentions about it and even recall that crazy Nicholson story where he actually ran around once thinking he was an actual ware-wolf or something along those lines, but that’s as far as I’ve gone. This time around… with updated F/X, story twists, and hoopla pertaining to all sorts of remakes, it lured me in and did not fail. And that’s maybe because my feelings were a blank canvas regarding this particular story, therefore, leaving me a bit biased…? Sure. That’s possible. But that doesn’t take away the fact that this has to be by far the most interesting and unique contemporary monster flick I’ve ever seen to date.
What sets the pace off with this film is that it gets right to the point. It doesn’t pussy-foot around with any kind of drawn out character development (which is important on the contrary – but there are exceptions) or dull drawn out back-stories that leaves us wondering why they didn’t just have a part one to introduce the story of (Why?), followed by a sequel. NO! Given the fact that audiences are in high demand nowadays, The Wolfman dives right into a deep dark / Gothic era from back in the 19th. Century… and from its first take, it goes into a complex story that has close – almost very little runaround.
The tale of an American who experiences an unsettling transformation after returning to his ancestral home in Victorian-era Great Britain and being attacked by a rampaging werewolf. His brother having recently vanished without a trace, haunted nobleman Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) returns to his family estate to investigate. What he discovers upon reuniting with his estranged father (Anthony Hopkins), however, is a destiny far darker than his blackest nightmares. As a young boy, the untimely death of his mother caused Talbot to grow up before his time. Though Talbot would attempt to bury his pain in the past by leaving the quiet Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor behind, the past returns with a vengeance when his brother's fiancee, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), convinces him to return home and aid the search for his missing brother… But something monstrous has been stalking the residents of Blackmoor from the nighttime shadows, something not quite human. Not even recently arrived Scotland Yard inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving “Mister… Hugo… we… missssed you…”) can dream up rational explanations for the gruesome spell that has been cast over Blackmoor, yet rumors of an ancient curse persist to this very day. According to legend, the afflicted will experience a horrific transformation by the light of the full moon (AwROOOoooo!), their animal rage becoming far too powerful for their human bodies to contain. Now, the woman Talbot loves is in mortal danger, and in order to protect her he must venture into the moonlit woods (of course) and destroy the beast before it destroys her. But this isn't your typical hunt, because before the beast can be slain, a simple man will uncover a primal side of himself that he never knew existed, answering lots of puzzling questions… not only to him, but the audience. Well, maybe not the audience… if you read heavily between the lines, there’s an uncovering of which takes you by surprise.
The story at times may come off as too vague, but it works. It works in many ways when piecing certain aspects of the story. From Talbot’s childhood all through his adult life, the mysteries of the unknown leads it to realms of “why me?” (Or del Toro) as it relates to the film… From traces of his father’s mentions, his mother’s haunting - all through the sentimental lift between Gwen and Talbot himself – see for yourself if you don’t buy it!
Without a doubt Hopkins works his cryptic side into his character as does Weaving with his awkward stare of skepticism blended with a little sarcasm… (Seeing as it worked in The Matrix, why not here?) And Blunt, well, Blunt is a doll. Very soft in personality, yet threw down when intensity was called for towards the middle of the film. However; del Toro has definitely grown on my list of favorite actors. The subtle deep stare which embellishes lots of intensity and relaxed approach upon his decisions to work his characters is really starting to take off. Not that it never did as he’s an academy award winner (Traffic) and owning a resume full of variety proves that a fellow Puerto Rican can kick ass on screen just as much as Nicholson or Washington. No disrespect to other P. Rican actors like Raul Julia or Jimmy Smitts, as they have a heavy mark themselves, but there’s something different about Benicio. Something rugged, yet pleasing, something subtle, yet full of noise and to date, he’s been juggling it well. Without a doubt he took his character serious in “Lawrence Talbot”… All the best for the brother… Yes, some might argue the entire CGI effect is not really counting as “acting,” but, truth is neither does that voice breaker/enhancer used by pretty much every singer nowadays, yet, it’s still considered singing, so fuck off!
Direction-wise, Jo Johnston (Honey I shrunk the Kids), along with writers Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self wanted to treat the film with as much respect as possible. Giving it their twists, but from what I hear, they went back and dusted off the old 1941 script. I mentioned before never having seen the original, but don’t think I’ve missed much. If anything, this enhanced 21st. century version may carry better substance behind it. (I think I’ll netflick it.) Something that also worked well and kudos to direction on this as I’m a great supporter of is scenery. The scenery gives this film the most believable aspect of life way back when. From costumes, to language, to architecture, to gestures… you name it, the appeal cleverly worked. From just watching the wolf-man running around and doing his thing, even that matched. Therefore, much credit goes to the make-up artist himself. (Rick Baker) It’s an art-form and science to be able to match all sorts of textures and visible monster-like attributes to fit the mood. I think having kept the wolf as close as possible to its 1941 version was one of the smartest things to do. It ties in with a lot of personal respect and knowing that many of the viewers might have seen that original version and feeling a bit disconnected isn’t the best feeling ever. We’ve seen that in other films and I can name a bunch, but will not go into it now. Overall from the actual completion of the wolf-man himself, to transformation in front of a bunch of doubting doctors and well – a pretty humorous scene between two wolf-men going at it UFC style just flares well.
In the midst of it all… is it a perfect MOVIE? No, because there were some subtle loopholes if I may, along with some subplots that I felt were irrelevant and perhaps a wee bit more development within some (not all) of the characters it might have been a bit better for me at least, but that doesn’t take away it’s magic and unique approach on monster flicks. This film is dramatically driven and meant to have fun with. Feels better when one gobbles pop-corn and ventures their mind into a world that would only exist in either films or books… I do not have an issue with monster flicks and now that we’ve seen Dracula and Wolf-man… I think it’s time to get Frankenstein going. I read somewhere it’s been green-lighted, but that requires some follow up on my part. Let’s just hope they don’t fuck it up by going the comical route as TV producers presented many years ago.
Good weekend flick despite what some may be thinking. So there, you got it straight from the horse’s mouth, therefore, my name’s “Prinz Lee” and I approve this review!