Sunday, October 14, 2012

Movie Review: The Wolfman

  I was very excited when I first saw the previews for this film.  I think I first saw the 1941 The Wolf Man with Lon Channey Jr on the Sammy Terry Show when I was a kid, and I have been fascinated by the werewolf mythos ever since.  This 2010 remake is a far more expansive version of the original, starring Benicia del Tor and Anthony Hopkins.  The film was not well received by the general public who probably expected something more akin to a modern The Howling than a gothic period-piece.  As a fan of the original film, I was very impressed with the handling of the story and the attention to detail in the remake.

 The sets and scenes are all beautiful and lavishly detailed, transporting the viewer back a century in time to Scotland, where something foul is afoot.  The characters are effective and disconcerting; the distrust of Lawrence Talbot is palpable from the townspeople, as is his own confusion about returning to his familiar yet alien homeland.  Lawrence seems to be a broken thing who has been repaired, but only superficially, living on the verge of breaking again at any moment.  His father, Sir John Talbot, is just as contradictory, being both aloof but also expressing concern for his strange son.  The film itself offers this same kind of contradiction; you think you know the story, yet are drawn into alien territory none-the-less.

Tough-Love Level Straight-Jacket.
  Despite the difference between this film and the original, the reveal at the end is telegraphed almost from the beginning.  You figure it out so early that you find yourself just waiting for the characters to figure it out.  Still, the film's settings and the acting has enough depth to overcome this.

 The only real downside for me is the monsters themselves.  Despite benefiting from CGI, the fully transformed monsters appear to be fake and not a part of the environment.  The scenes relying more on make-up are far more impressive.

...And this isn't even my final form!
 Lawerence's escape from the asylum is very satisfying.  Traditionalists who are tired of both the werewolf conspiracy films (werewolves plotting to take over the world) and werewolf superhero films (the curse is turned into a blessing) will appreciate this offering to the werewolf mythos.

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