So today my sweetie-wife and I went out to see The Wolfman, the recent remake of the classic Universal Horror film. I am a big fan of the original The Wolf Man (1941.) Perhaps I’ll cross post my essay on Werewolves and the pivotal position the 1941 film had on our understanding of this beast, but for right now I will concentrate on the screening we just attended.
I went in with lowered expectations and they were not met. This film is a mess, the script doesn’t know what story it really wants to tell, the plot is filled with holes that a pack of werewolves could dive through, the acting was telephoned in, and there is no chemistry between the leads.
It’s clear that the writers certainly started out using the Curt Siodmak screenplay as there basis for a remake, but quickly they lost the heart and soul of the writing. This has been a troubled production and it shows. I know the director, Joe Johnston, was not the first director and that he had been brought in to save the project. He did not.
Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) has returned to his home after receiving a letter from his brother’s fiance Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) informing him that his brother had been missing and the worst is feared. Gwen knows that Lawrence is estranged from his family but asks that he come anyway. He does, leaving his acting company behind, and immediately throws himself into seeking the truth of his brother’s murder. (The body having been found just before Lawrence arrived.) Lawrence begins reconnecting with his father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). All very standard and predictable plot elements. What’s missing is any sense that this really matters to Lawrence. Oh the words are sort of there but they are delivered in such a flat manner as to suggest no more interest than in doing the dishes; a chore and nothing more.
Lawrence visits the gypsy camp and here the story goes off the rails. The mystery and suspense of the original is replaced with quick edits, gore, and loud noises meant to shock the audience into thinking they have been frightened when in fact they have only been startled.
Well more bodies pile up and soon Scotland yard has taken an interest. Inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) arrived to seek the murderer and bring him to justice. Hugo was the only actor worth watching and who seemed to be trying to bring a character to life rather than just repeating memorized lines.
From here the movie sinks to the bottom like a scuttled submarine . I won’t bore you with the details. If you’re interested in the film it would be spoiler material and if you are not, trust it wouldn’t make much sense.
It is always a bad sign for a remake if during the film you are constantly thinking of the original and why you loved that movie instead of being gripped by the story unfolding in front of you. The worst curse in this film is the one on the audiences watching it.