The Wolfman 2010 ***

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If the public flock to see a galaxy of superheroes, why wouldn’t they flock to see a universe of monsters? That’s the conundrum as yet unsolved by Universal’s proposed Monsterverse, which aimed to bring together Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, the Wolfman and more, but has faced several false starts. These IP are better known that anything Marvel or DC offer, and yet there are narrative issues; aside from origin stories, what would the public want to see the monsters do? With a script co-written by Se7en’s Andrew Kevin Walker, Joe Johnson’s The Wolfman tries harder than most to invigorate the clichés; Shakespearean actor Larry Talbot (Benicio del Toro) returns home to Blackmoor, and Talbot Hall specifically, after hearing word of his brother’s disappearance. His father Sir John (Anthony Hopkins) is already in on the werewolf family secret, and Larry finds himself involved with his dead brother’s fiancé Gwen (Emily Blunt) as well as the usual mistrustful villagers. Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) of Scotland Yard is also on the case, fresh from his work on the Jack the Ripper murders. The Wolfman looks great, and has some cool make-up from Rick Baker, plus better acting than most horror films. There’s a duff ending, and an overall lack of suspense, possibly due to re-cutting, although a medical inspection at the hands of Anthony Sher’s asylum manager goes amusingly and spectacularly awry. Universal seem to have been somewhat dismissive of the outcome, but The Wolfman is better than it’s dire reputation suggests; it’s clearly a loving attempt to revise a classic story, with top talent del Toro, Hopkins, Blunt and Baker all on message, and a few neat moments for genre fans to enjoy, even if the final wolf-on-wolf fight is risible.

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2 Comments

  1. I finally watched this for the first time, recently, and I came away thinking it was as bad as its initial reputation suggested. To me, the film watched like it was put through a blender with editing so jarring, stop-and-starting, that it felt like 2016’s Suicide Squad; meanwhile, its digital gore FX were downright distracting.

    Why these classical, dare I say *timeless* properties haven’t caught on with modern audiences is a good question you raise. Aside from questionable execution (e.g. this film, the new Mummy, Dracula Untold, etc.), these IPs shouldn’t age like most Westerns, so you’d think a shift in strategy could save them.

    Jay Bauman of Red Letter Media noted how this “Dark Universe” facade might work if Universal reworked these properties into modestly budgeted, standalone horror films instead of copycat, wannabe superhero films interconnected across a “shared universe.” Lo and behold, Universal is now ostensibly teaming up with Blumhouse to produce a low-budget Invisible Man horror flick!

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