Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self
Based On: The Wolf Man (1941)
Cast: Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving, Geraldine Chaplin
Let me start with the admission that I’ve never seen the classic version of this movie, so I wasn’t going into this with any kind of expectations for the movie to live up to. With the reshoots and the delays, you could even say that I was not expecting much of anything from this movie at all. I felt like I got about that out of it: not much. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t know that it was possible to make a boring werewolf movie, either.
The movie itself is beautiful, eerie with great atmosphere. The old Talbot home is great in the stark contrasts between the way it stands now and the flashback version to when Solana Talbot — Lawrence’s mother and Sir John’s wife — was still alive. I was also very impressed with the psychiatric hospital and the bizarre trippy sequences that take place there. However, for all the beauty of the camera shots, settings, and costumes, I was more unimpressed with what wasn’t there.
I never found anything to grab me about any of the characters. The only one that I was interested in in the least was Hugo Weaving’s Inspector Abberline. Weaving was his usual stoic self, which worked well for the Inspector with hints of a backstory. The actors were all fine in their roles, and the performances were strong. There just wasn’t anything there that made me care about them.
I never understood why Emily Blunt’s Gwen Conliffe was out here living at Talbot manor. She seems a smart woman who has it all together, yet she’s living out in the country in a dilapidated crumbling manor house. I’m also not sure why she needed to send Lawrence (Benicio Del Toro) a letter to come help search for his brother when there seem to be plenty of searchers there already. Sir John (Anthony Hopkins) delivers several good moments, but in the end, I just didn’t quite get the sense that he was truly losing it until the very end. Hopkins was excellent, but the character wasn’t nearly as dominating over the family as I felt they wanted him to be.
The atmosphere of the movie didn’t catch on for me, either. I felt like we were dropped into the middle of the story and, after a convenient conversation in a bar catches Lawrence up on the going theories of the townsfolk, we’re off and running with an underdeveloped gypsy angle that also never really feels fully fleshed out. The anger that a scared town would feel was certainly there, but the scared part never really showed itself. Other than the doctor, I couldn’t tell one townsperson from another in a lineup. The gypsies were your usual gypsies without anything to set them apart from any other gypsies you’ve ever seen. I would understand these characters being less fleshed out if the main characters were more fleshed out themselves.
The CGI werewolves were good. The CGI deer and bear were a little odd to me. It doesn’t seem that difficult to get the real thing, but then I don’t make movies. The gore was about right, I felt. More than some older movies but certainly nothing near Saw or Hostel levels. I especially loved the werewolf claw going through a man’s jaw and coming out his mouth.
My biggest problem is that this is another in a disturbing trend of movies that look good and have very little substance or character development to make me care about how cool the effects are. I’ll say that I was expecting much and really didn’t get much.
Rating: 2.5 / 5 Stars