Main cast: Benicio del Toro (Lawrence Talbot), Anthony Hopkins (Sir John Talbot), Emily Blunt (Gwen Conliffe), Art Malik (Singh), Geraldine Chaplin (Maleva), Antony Sher (Dr Hoenneger), and Hugo Weaving (Inspector Abberline)
Director: Joe Johnston
The Wolfman is said to be a remake of the old classic horror movie of the same name. A quick online check suggests though that liberal changes in the plot have been made in this particular movie.
In this one, we have Lawrence Talbot, the estranged son of Sir John Talbot. You see, when he was a boy, he came across the body of his mother in his father’s arms, the poor woman apparently having killed himself. Sir John then sent Lawrence into an insane asylum and later to an aunt in America. Lawrence since then takes to the stage, making a name for himself as an actor of William Shakespeare’s plays. The Prince of Denmark in Hamlet is apparently his most famous role to date. Ooh, is that foreshadowing I see in this movie?
Lawrence happens to be in England with his troupe when Gwen Conliffe, the fiancée of his brother Ben, writes to him, telling him that Ben is MIA. She pleads to Lawrence to come home and help with the search for Ben. Lawrence is moved by the letter to finally come home, only to find a generally unconcerned father in residence along with Sir John’s servant Singh and his brother’s beautiful fiancée. When Ben’s badly mauled body shows up, Lawrence pledges to Gwen that he will stay and do all he can to make sure that the beast – for it has to be a beast – that killed Ben will be caught. As luck would have it, Lawrence is injured by the beast one night. Guess what happens during the next full moon.
First, the good things. The werewolf effects aren’t too bad, much to my relief, and the whole thing is only unintentionally comical when I get a full close look at the transformed werewolf much later in the movie. For a long time, the movie manages to create a pretty decent atmosphere of fear and claustrophobia as characters wander in the fogged-covered woods, scared and helpless. The identity of the werewolf that killed Ben is quite obvious, but the story of Lawrence’s attempts to avenge Ben is still a solid and entertaining one.
This is no doubt helped by the all around good acting from Benicio del Toro, Hugo Weaving, and Emily Blunt. Anthony Hopkins is just playing that same old crazy coot thing he has done many times before, so the less said about him the better. But the romantic tension between Lawrence and Gwen is very subtle and nicely done, while Hugo Weaving’s character very nicely steals every scene he is in.
Unfortunately, the movie completely falls apart like a deflated blimp in its last third or so. Without giving away too many spoilers, let me just say that Gwen’s character turns unforgivably stupid while there is an unintentionally hilarious confrontation between our hero and the bad guy that has me trying to stifle loud giggles in the theater. It is as if the people behind this movie believe that the movie won’t be a resounding success without some grand Hollywood-style showdown, much to the detriment of this movie.
I have a good time watching The Wolfman despite the truly horrible final leg of the movie, so I don’t feel that this movie is that bad. It could be better, definitely, but it could have been much worse as well. All in all, a pretty solid option for rental at the very least, I believe.