The Wolfman He Ain’t

I have a hard time imagining where the $150 million dollars went to make this film. Sure, the cast surely received top checks for their previous work with proven box office ability, and the special monster effects are costly these days, but $150 million?  Perhaps the film will find some niche audience somewhere out there that will elevate the poultry $139 million it has earned as of the writing of this review, but I doubt it.  

I avoided this film in the theater if, for no other reason, than the disappointing trailer and the typical ‘concept-over-story’ constructs which have become the nefarious blueprint for Hollywood remakes these days. Followers of my blog will undoubtedly recall my previous posts on the subject of Hollywood remakes, brandishing said critiques like pitch forks and burning hay bales side-by-side with all moviegoers who have surely had their fill of such box office jetsam. I had a moment of pause when I learned that not only Benicio Del Toro was cast, but also Anthony Hopkins Emily blunt and master character actor Hugo Weaving (agent Smith anyone?).  How could a film go so terribly wrong? Perhaps it was Benicio Del Toro, one of my favorite actors, as the placid, figuratively toothless Wolfman floundering through his lines, lost from one dull line to the next.  Or maybe, more painfully, it was my own desire for something original, for a single redeeming moment to capture and keep my waning attention?  Del Toro was captivating in Che, though I don’t feel the story required two feature-length films any more than Tarrantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1 & 2.  He gave memorable performances in The Usual Suspects and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  But here, he was stiff and awkward and at an hour and 42 minutes, well, not many actors could salvage a film with such a muddy script and hapless direction by Joe Johnston.  You’ll most likely recall Mr. Johnston as the captain of such forgettable films as The Rocketeer, Jurassic Park III, and Jumanji.  Sure, The Rocketeer made money but not much, and Jurassic Park III , is most likely his biggest success to date earning nearly $400 million dollars worldwide.  Remember my post on Hollywood remakes?  I might be stretching the bankability of Mr. Johnson and the subsequent lending of more money to make more movies, since we know all about the grease that keeps the Hollywood machine going.  Mr. Johnston will no doubt continuing making pictures, trusted with $150 million dollars, but an old adage comes to mind – burn me once shame on you, burn me twice shame on me.  

Benicio Del Toro was by far the biggest shortcoming in Wolfman.  His emotions were stamped down, the delivery of even the most passionate moments between his character and the character of Emily blunt were cold, disconnected and empty.  All memories of Del Toro in Che were torn from me.  Anthony Hopkins delivered a resolute and sophisticated Sir John Talbot, but in all honesty he was miscast here.  Hopkin’s previous roles as the anti-vampire zealot Professor Abraham Van Helsing in Francis Ford Coppola‘s 1992 Dracula was all too familiar, at least for me, and as a result Talbot was unapproachable and vague – a character that was difficult to find an emotional tether rope to.  Emily Blunt was watchable, as usual, but it was apparent from her earliest appearance in the film that she struggled with the same lacklustre script that tainted the entire production.   

The Wolfman simply enough did not deliver.  We were treated to the prototypical fable, the all too familiar union of man and beast, and the intersection where beauty arrives and despite initial revulsion finds pity and compassion for the creature that lives in all of us. If only there had been something more to latch on to, something in the way of Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld franchise – a different path for a familiar story.  If given the chance, see the 1941 Wolfman with Lon Chaney, Jr.Claude RainsEvelyn AnkersRalph BellamyPatric KnowlesBéla Lugosi, and Maria Ouspenskaya and embrace a film that knows what it is and what it isn’t.


About rorydean

Rory Dean is a multi-medium artist, writer and new media strategist with a background as a creative consultant and technology liaison in the San Francisco Bay Area. His broad experiences and specialties include print-to-web publicity, promotions and design marketing using traditional and social media networks. As a motion pictures and television professional, his short films, productions and commercials have screened to domestic and international audiences. His connections to a diverse client base include artists, entertainers, corporations, non-profits and everyday people.. Dean is co-owner and founder of Dissave Pictures, a boutique production company focusing on audio, video, photography and multi-media designs. Dean's personal and professional background includes dreaming and avid notebook journaling, creative and copy writing, promotions and marketing, audio/video production, photography, videography, editing, web design and new media. He’s also a fan of collaboration and knows when to turn the reigns over, offer feedback, lead the team and step aside. His portfolio includes print, online, film, video, photography, graphic design and promotions. He’ll show you. He has a book and everything. "When not juggling various online worlds, I do a pretty good mime – but that’s another story."
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3 Responses to The Wolfman He Ain’t

  1. raphael says:

    can’t agree more!

  2. Richard says:

    Pretty fair review, Rory. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie and I wasn’t disappointed. More than anything I was mystified by the presence of Inspector Abeline. Seemed an odd choice.

    Still, I do have a better opinion of Joe Johnston’s previous work than you, I think. I loved The Rocketeer, for instance. 🙂

    • rorydean says:

      Thanks Richard. I actually must admit I did go in assuming a certain amount of play in the usual scary monster genre – meaning that for all that money and with such notable, celebrated actors in the prime, meaty roles this should have been a vastly superior film. I know I drone on about expectations being the curiosity that killed the cat and satisfaction that brought him back, or something like that; but in all honesty I could not get past B. Del Torro and how he mumbled through every scene, delivered his lines as though he were reading giant queue cards just off frame, and otherwise made a foolish and unrewarding Lawrence Talbot. Not to mention Emily Blunt – who I adore for just about everything – and Anthony Hopkins who phoned in his scenes with the same kind of wide-eyed, lock-jawed amazement you’ll find in every single period dramas he’s been in for the last decade. I mean seriously, you could mix and match his performances and except for wardrobe changes and maybe a chin whisker or scruffy muttonchops he’d be the same old guy with a limp. O.K., maybe that’s not fair and maybe Sir. Hopkins deserves many, many passes for an incredible body of work, but this is just one of many chinks in the armor of the film that leave it dull and unworthy of screening.

      I’m not sure how I feel about Abeline, maybe it was looks alone? But we do know Weaving has the chops – maybe he’s too reminiscent of Elrond or Agent Smith? You know he was the voice of Megatron…not that that makes the franchise any better – but silly fun is OK. I actually think I appreciated the first one much more than many, many critics. Sometimes you’re better divorcing your feelings at the door, or at least embracing a lovers quarrel for the evening.

      Joe Jackson is still working off the success of the Honey I strunk The Kids movie – and maybe rightfully so. Better a career has been made but no less notable in a machine that chews and spits with such regularly. I like parts of his movies, just not all of them. Maybe he would be better at short subject film – then again, there’s absolutely no money in that venture.

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