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Blast from the Past Movie Review – “The Wolfman: Theatrical/Director’s Cut” (2010)

October 23, 2011

It’s October, I thought I’d do a review on something that is close to my heart. I’m a Wolfman fan werewolf movies speak to me in a big way. Let me first start off by saying this, I LOVE the original 1941 “Wolf-Man” that Lon Chaney, Jr starred in. No one will ever take that away from his legacy as an actor.

When I heard the news a few years ago that Universal Studios was planning a remake of the classic horror film, I said two things; one, they better get Rick Baker to do make-up & two, Benicio del Toro should play the Wolfman. My wish came true, and henceforth began my excitement for this long awaited remake.

The story goes, Blackmoor local, Ben Talbot (Simon Merrells) vanishes into thin air, his stage actor brother Lawrence (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his family estate to investigate. Upon reuniting with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), he discovers that Ben is dead; the victim of a savage attack by a beast that keeps the superstitious locals cowering in fear every time the moon shines bright in the sky. Lawrence’s investigation leads him down a dark path as the very same beast that killed his brother attacks him. Lawrence survives from severe wounds. According to legend, the afflicted will experience a horrific transformation by the light of the full moon. Now, the woman Talbot loves (Emily Blunt) is in mortal danger, and in order to protect her he must venture into the moonlit woods and destroy the beast before it destroys both of them, meanwhile protecting her from himself. This isn’t a typical hunt, because before the beast can be slain, a simple man will uncover a primal side of himself that he never knew existed.

I have to say I was split with emotions, on the one hand the make-up was brilliant, the production design, brilliant, cinematography, astounding, Danny Elfman score, IT’S DANNY FUCKING ELFMAN! As for Benicio, he was great as the Wolfman, but I was undecided on him playing Lawrence Talbot. He had the look down; similar mannerisms like Chaney, but Chaney is Chaney, and he was the best. Benicio fell flat here and there, but you can see his tortured emotions when he’s transforming into the beast (or was that the CG helping? LOL). Anthony Hopkins, amazing, he’s just the bomb, he played John Talbot grittier & meaner than Claude Raines did in the original, and I like his twist with the character. Emily Blunt, she was ok, probably not the best choice to play the beautiful Gwen, but what can you do?

I have to agree with the critics, the script was the weakest element of the whole movie. It tried to be two different things at once, one part it’s trying to be the next great Gothic horror movie like, Coppola’s “Dracula” or Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow”, and the next it’s trying too hard to please the “Saw”-generation, with all the gore. The gore in this movie was…well, GOREY, they weren’t kidding around, the movie deserved it’s R rating. The supernatural element that made the original so good is missing in this movie; pentagrams, limited time on the Gypsy’s, etc. We don’t get an explanation about the silver cane; it’s just there. I’m glad it was there it was a nice wink for the fans.

As a whole movie, it was solid, but not a hit. It was fun & enjoyable, but will never live up to the original Universal Monster movie. However, there is good news for this movie. There is a director’s cut, which is a significant improvement. The director’s cut is a lot more satisfying, it explores deeper into the actual story, better character development between father & son At the beginning of the movie we finally get the explanation regarding how Lawrence receives that infamous silver wolf cane. It gives more meaning to the character and others who are afflicted with the curse of the beast’, which makes the ending a lot more powerful & terrifying.

THEATRICAL CUT GRADE: C+

DIRECTOR’S CUT GRADE: B

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