By Taylor Bock
“The Wolfman” is a good example of a movie that truly could have been great, but just didn’t live up to its potential.
The original “Wolfman” had a good-enough plot. In the 1941 classic, Lawrence Talbot comes home to make amends with his father, meets a nice girl and then gets bitten by a werewolf.
This remake is hit-and-miss, with great special effects but overused horror sequences and bland acting.
The movie opens with Lawrence, played by Benicio Del Toro, coming home to England after hearing that his brother has gone missing. When he arrives, his eccentric father (Anthony Hopkins) tells him his brother was found savagely torn to shreds.
When Lawrence tries to investigate his brother’s death, he’s attacked by a werewolf. Obviously he becomes a werewolf, and a very thin plot is born.
I could analyze the acting, but it’s easier to just tell you that it’s lame. It doesn’t outright suck, but it could very well put you to sleep.
Hugo Weaving as Inspector Abberline and the other side characters are better than the lead actors. I would watch a sequel or another unrelated movie starring just that supporting cast.
Hopkins wasn’t terrible either, but you can tell this was just another paycheck for someone of his caliber.
“Wolfman” really shines at special effects. Well, it almost does. Everything involving the Wolfman himself is superbly done. But the scares in the first half are essentially things coming out of nowhere and going BOO!
Whenever the Wolfman enters a scene, the acting becomes worth sitting through. In a time when moviemakers use computer-generated imagery for just about everything, the special effects crew put together an amazing and perfectly crafted costume.
It’s a true modern homage to the design of the original Wolfman. He walks on two legs, his clothes are shredded, and his face is flat rather than a long muzzle.
You can tell there is an actor underneath all that makeup, and he might not be terrifying by modern standards, but it sure makes him a hell of a lot cooler.
The movie does use CGI for sequences where Wolfman runs along rooftops on all fours, but the transition is seamless.
Speaking of transition, not since “American Werewolf in London” have I seen such convincing transformation.
Lawrence’s skin stretches, his bones break and twist, his teeth rearrange in his gums and he truly sounds like he’s in pain. While most of Del Toro’s acting falls flat, he sure can play savage.
“The Wolfman” will satisfy your inner gore-hound. Wolfman rips off heads, severs limbs and generally ruins everyone’s day. These sequences are few, but long and satisfying.
He even dukes it out with another wolfman in a no-holds-barred werewolf death match. The plot twist that introduces the second wolfman is silly and unnecessary, but does make for a dramatic fight scene.
The ending is something you can practically see coming from the beginning of the movie.
The moment, like several other scenes, tries invoking emotion but just doesn’t use enough effort to make it viable.
“The Wolfman” is worth seeing if you’re sick of the vampire craze. It’s a welcome change and the special effects are great.
But don’t let “The Wolfman” sucker you into thinking the acting will be any better than your average horror film.
Just because the characters aren’t dense teenagers doesn’t mean they can’t still be dense adults.
As always, the monster becomes the star of the show while everyone else is just wolfman food.