Rating: 3 out of 5
The Wolfman is so unabashed about what it is, and what it aims to be, a throwback to the glory days of B-Grade monster movie horror, that it’s hard to fault the film for its shortcomings.
Joe Johnston’s retelling of the eponymous 1941 classic is dripping in gore and overrun in George A. Romero-esque camp, but that’s precisely its intention. The Wolfman is a nostalgic revival of old-school monster movie theatrics that takes itself very, very seriously, and therein lies the fun.
Much like its well-meaning protagonist, the production for this movie was seemingly cursed from the start.
The Wolfman infamously changed its director midway, suffered three release delays and was forced to conduct massive re-shoots and re-edits. You know your movie is voodoo-ed when even your composer (Danny Elfman) is bewilderingly fired.
In spite of its birthing pains, the final product shows no sign of being chopped up and reassembled (multiple times) before being reanimated to life like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster (fittingly an admitted thematic inspiration for this movie) which is a remarkable feat in of itself.
The Wolfman tells the by-now familiar story of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), who returns home to his native Blackmoor upon receiving a letter from his brother’s fiancée, Gwen (Emily Blunt, gorgeous as always), informing him of his brother’s disappearance.
Upon reuniting with his strangely unemotional father, Sir John (Anthony Hopkins), Lawrence is bluntly told of his brother’s gruesome murder. Talbot’s doomed quest for justice detours with him being bitten by a werewolf, turning him into the very creature he was hunting.
Our hero is, for all intents and purposes, moonstruck. Figuratively by the fetching Gwen and literally when he turns into a cranky beast for three nights every month, like a furrier male-version of PMS. Lots of beheading, disembowelling, ultra-violent lycanthropic fun ensues.
Besides the buckets of blood and carnage, look out for cheesy dialogue goodness such as, “I didn’t know you hunted monsters.” “Sometimes monsters hunt you!”
When you have lines like that thrown at you with a straight face and Shakespearian gravitas, you just have to appreciate that you’re watching a celebration of all things camp.
The film briefly flirts with weighty moral conundrums such as Lawrence’s guilt and the thin line between man and monster (John is arguably more calculatingly evil in human form than as a feral beast).
There’s even a Hamlet reference (dream sequences of Del Toro as Yorick) presumably used as shorthand to parallel Lawrence’s journey from grief, to madness to rage to finally taking revenge for a relative’s death.
Such philosophical musings are disappointingly swiftly tucked away for more blood and gore scare tactics. This is perfectly fine though, no use pretending to be deeper than what this movie really means to be.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.