Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Weeks Too Late: The Wolfman

The Wolfman (2010). Directed by Joe Johnston, Written by Andrew Kevin Walker & David Self.

Preconceptions: To say I was excited for this movie would be an understatement. I love horror movies in general (though this wasn't precisely a horror) but monster movies in particular. My love of werewolves (or whor-wilfs if you prefer) has reached the fetishistic point. The idea of a high budget, kinda classy werewolf movie was a big deal. I'm hardly alone in my wolfman love. Doomwench, my lovely co-writer, traveled some 70 miles from her Island Paradise to join us.

General Review: Sadly, despite what the Guess Who say I can't really clap for the Wolfman. Okay, not entirely true, but I'm too weak to pass up the line. I'm afraid it was another pretty movie with passable acting and not much else. I know they were going for a sort of simple classic plot. But instead of being stark and clean it was just a bit boring and predictable. And I don't know HOW you can make a movie about a giant monster tearing apart screaming humans into something a bit dull...but they managed it.

If I may, I'd like to break from form here and talk about specifics. If you haven't seen the movie and are desperate not to have a few completely telegraphed plot points ruined for you, don't read this section: (Spoilers, Spoilers Spoilers)

The love interest was uninspired and there was no chemistry between the two leads. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Wren, you don't like ANY love interests in movies, do you?" Well...given the last few reviews you certainly have reason to ask. And while I'm hardly a romantic, I do get into the occasional love story (Hitchcock, Whedon and Jane Austen all come to mind. They and other contemporary and classic creators have tricked me into sighing like a 12 year old over love stories). Just not this one. And it is vital to the plot that we buy the romance.

I think one of the main reasons the movie didn't work for me was I needed to be convinced of an enduring love that would stand up to the strain of the boyfriend BEING A BLOODTHIRSTY WEREWOLF. We are expected to buy that Emily Blunt's character falls madly for Benicio weeks after her husband's brutal murder. If I'm going to go with that I need a bit of passion, not just a scene about skipping rocks across a pond. And y'know I don't think badly of either Emily Blunt or Benicio Del Toro usually, but neither they nor the writers seemed to be up to the task.

Here endth the spoilers and irrational ranting (well...spoilers anyways).

Despite what you may have garnered from my wailing and gnashing about the lameness of the romance, the Wolfman was not all bad. The human to werewolf transformation was very cool and it's damned difficult to make that look good. Ditto with the monster design. They stayed true to the classic look but it didn't look cheesy. Hell, overall the movie was pretty. I love the Victorian setting, the visual of a werewolf running through and over London streets (and gutting people out in quiet forests).

Wolfman delivered on the gore and the monster but not so much on the story.

Random Thoughts: Benicio looked right good in the wolfman make up. Less good in the, lets not kid ourselves, the whiteface make up.

And I always enjoy a bit of Hugo Weaving. His performances tend to be fun even when I'm let down by the rest of the movie.

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