The Wolfman DVD Review
In 1941, Lon Chaney Jr. gave us the greatest werewolf story ever with The Wolfman. It was silver screen horror brought to life in a way we had never seen before. Over the years other werewolf films have tried to live up, but none were as spooky and gothic as the original. In the last decade, we have had to suffer through bad remakes of great horror movies with over-acting that were more about appeasing a teen audience that could not appreciate the original. In particular, it always seemed as though the werewolf got the silver bullet. Underworld and Twilight incoporated them, but were more about vampires. At last we have one that holds up to its counterpart.
Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving star in this gothic horror thrill ride. It sets the films back in the late 19th Century. Del Toro plays Larry Talbot, but since it’s the 19th Century he’s called his proper name, Lawrence. His father (Hopkins) summons him home to help find his missing brother who as to wed Emily Blunt’s character. Lawrence then finds out his brother was killed by a monster. While helping a local gypsy clan his brother was friends with, he is bitten and becomes a werewolf.Hugo Weaving, is the inspector on the case but he shows how useless he is right in the beginning when it’s mentioned he worked on the Jack the Ripper fiasco a few years ago. That’s a pretty obvious sign that he won’t be of much help. Interestingly, Weaving plays the good guy in this film, when most of his roles (Transformers, The Matrix) he plays the jerk villain. The cast is top-notch and it shows with their performance through the film. Director Joe Johnston, (Jurassic Park 3) really put a lot of detail into the film. One example being that the wolf cane and ring that Talbot has in his possession are the same from the film years go. The make up is fantastic since it’s the same team worked on Jon Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.
With that being said, the downside of the movie is the CGI. Why in 1980 during “American Werewolf” were they able to do a successfully realistic (and Oscar-winning) transformation but here CGI? The backgrounds as wonderful as they look, are also CGI. This sometimes takes away from what this movie can be. My only other hang up is that it’s not quite as gothic as the ’41 film.All in all this is a great Horror Movie. Now that the film is on DVD people can check out what they missed in theaters. The bonus Material consists extra footage which contains the origin of the silver cane-sword and also the uncredited and completely removed part played by Max von Sydow who was the original owner of the cane. There is a massive amount of Bonus content on this film, much of which is excellent. However, if you don’t own a Blu-ray player you have to track down the two-disc set only sold at Best Buy. The best bonus material in my opinion is:
- “Return of The Wolfman“: See how Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and director Joe Johnston tapped into the tragic roots of the legend and cinematic lore to unleash a new terror
- “The Beast Maker”: A detailed look at how legendary make-up wizard Rick Baker transformed a classic monster into a modern nightmare
- “Transformation Secrets”: Whether transforming werewolves, producing hallucinogenic nightmares or recreating the fog-covered streets of Victorian London, wel see how the visual effects team created a haunting world of moonlit monsters and unsettling thrills
Rating: 7/10The Wolfman
Directed by Joe Johnston
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self, Curt Siodmak (1941 screenplay)
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Steven thought: “The full-moon transformations of man to werewolf are enhanced with top-notch gruesome CGI, but the man behind the beast remains uncomplicated. This “Wolfman” is a classic monster horror film with a modern pulse. Clichéd suspense and generic storytelling are king, only they’re accompanied by extreme gore and curdling special effects for a more 21st Century thrill. The film is entertaining despite the basic and surprise-less script. In a sense its shallow delivery is an homage to old-school horror films. It would have been nice to have gotten a more complicated retelling of the tragic tale of Lawrence Talbot, but it works just fine as a genre film.” Rating: 6/10
Simon thought: “A gothic horror film about a bloodthirsty humanoid wolf should not be a dull endeavour and even though every element appears to be in place (great actors, a huge budget, promising premise, etc) dullness is exactly what transpires on screen. Despite some bloody action sequences and keystone thrills, The Wolfman almost qualifies as a slog. If anything, the art direction is the star of the movie. The set design and lighting is pitch-perfect, perfectly capturing everything one would hope for in a gothic tale, but this is hardly a reason to see a movie, much less one about a werewolf. Budgeted at a whopping $150 million, one would expect top of the line special effects. While passable, the transformations peak at average and the film unfortunately forgoes the Jaws rule and features far too many clear shots of the beast and as a result much of any tension begins to deflate. As background noise, this film is not something you would have to rush to shut off when it reaches cable, but brings nothing new or intereting to any of the genres it transcends.” Rating: 5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 6.0/10