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Continuing my Film Education: The Wolf Man (2010)

Hey Everybody, Rick here with a review of the remake of the classic Universal Monsters movie from 1927, The Wolf Man.  This particular remake stars Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving, and Emily Blunt and was directed by Joe Johnston, the same director of such films as "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," "The Rocketeer," and the upcoming Captain America.

I really wanted to love this movie.  The original film starring Lon Chaney Jr. as the title creature is one of my all time favorite films of classic horror.  The original is moody, atmospheric and most of all, to the point, which works to the advantage of the original.  That being said, the new one has its heart in the right place.  The effects are decent enough, especially the practical Wolf Man make up done by Rick Baker.  The sets, the cinematography, the creepy atmosphere, all wonderful.  The performances, specifically by Del Toro and Weaving, excellent.

Okay, so where does the film fail?

I am not really sure to be honest.  I think it smacks of a project that clearly belonged to another director and left the project, causing the studio to put in another director three weeks before the film started shooting. The replacement director being Joe Johnston, who is a director whose work I enjoy quite a bit.  The fact that he was not able to put his own distinctive stamp on things certainly seems to be the issue here.  Perhaps the studio was committed to doing the film a certain way.  I am not sure.  All I know is that is ultimately suffers from factors that seems to have been beyond Johnston's control.  I think the biggest fail I saw with the movie was that the plot device where a certain other character does his big reveal, it just feels tacked on and cheesy.

The makeup effects by Rick Baker as expected, are brilliant.  The look of the Wolf Man is very indicative of the original film.  That being said, the  CG transformation sequences are awful.  I would have loved to see what Baker would have been capable of with the practical transformation effects instead of the CG.  Oh well.

Performance wise, this movie is across the board, ranging from pretty great to awful, to just wasted.  Benicio Del Toro does an awesome job as Lawrence Talbot, perfectly capturing the angst and the suffering that this character goes through.  Hugo Weaving is pretty excellent as well as the detective investigating the murders that are occurring throughout the movie.  The performance I absolutely hated surprisingly enough, was Hopkins as Talbot's father.  He spent the entire movie with this creepy grin on his face and it just didn't work.  Hopkins is a fine, fine actor but in this movie for some reason, he just doesn't work for me in this.  Then there is the issue of Emily Blunt, who plays the love interest in the movie.  Her performance is completely wasted in this movie.  She has nothing to do except look scared which is a shame because she really is a great actress.

Ultimately, I think that Johnston did the best he could with this movie.  He really is a pretty great director.  Watch some of his earlier films to see what I am talking about.   If you have your doubts about this director working on Captain America, all you have to do is watch The Rocketeer and you will see that he is the right man for the job.  Unfortunately, The Wolf Man, is forgettable and certainly not one of his best movies.
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