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Friday
Feb122010

The Wolfman

The Wolfman has been plagued with production problems since its inception. Originally scheduled to be released in late 2008, it was pushed back numerous times, it underwent reshoots, a usual normalcy in filmmaking, that were rumored to be because the powers that be weren't happy with the look of the werewolf, directors were leaving the project due to the ever reliable term "creative differences," and even now, a week before the film came out, early word wasn't good. Well, it's not. The Wolfman is a dull, lifeless, meandering failure saved only by the sinful glee of watching England's citizens get their limbs get ripped off in splatters of blood.

The Wolfman stars Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, a British man who moved to New York some time ago to pursue his acting career. His brother, still living back in Blackmoor, England, has just been found dead and Lawrence has been summoned back for the funeral. The events surrounding his death are mysterious because his ravaged corpse shows evidence that he was not murdered by man, but by some kind of beast. One night at a gypsy camp, Lawrence finds that beast and is bitten, giving him the curse of the werewolf. Meanwhile, something doesn't seem to be right with his father, John, played by Anthony Hopkins and now he is being pursued by the local police, headed by Abberline, played by Hugo Weaving.

There are more than a few problems in this dreadful adaptation of The Wolfman, but none surpass the questionable decision to cast Benicio Del Toro in the title role. I haven't seen such an egregious case of miscasting since Ben Affleck in Daredevil. The film takes place back in old England, in the late 19th century and Del Toro plays a British lad who grew up there, yet he doesn't even attempt an accent. The problem is that his dialogue is still written in that time period's prose, so he ends up sounding silly. Every line he uttered was a distraction and his presence in this movie is unforgivable.

Still, with such great material to develop from, I find it baffling how bad this thing turned out. It should have been an homage to the olden days of horror, hearkening back to the roots of what made the genre so popular in the first place. Instead, it's little more than a new age horror flick hiding under the guise of a classic. It's incredibly violent and it uses dozens of jump scares, some that are placed within mere seconds of each other, none of which work.

The disappointment is that the film looks good. The production design is impressive, with a haunting, bleak atmosphere accompanied by gothic architecture and a dark tone that would have generously supported the story had there been one to care about. This thing goes from scene to scene without so much of a story arc, basically repeating itself over and over until the anti-climactic final battle. Scene transitions were sometimes abrupt and rarely seemed to gel together, even going so far as to overuse the fade-to-black scene ender multiple times.

What The Wolfman all boils down to is a slapdash, clumsy remake with zero scares, an uninteresting story and one ridiculously bad miscast. Sure, the intense violence will hold your attention for a few moments, but when you realize that's one of the only aspects of it worth noting, you begin to realize how truly shallow it is.

The Wolfman receives 1.5/5

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