Saturday, 27 February 2010

Frights, Bites and Lights [Review: The Wolfman]

The Wolfman has lots of bite but no originality whatsoever. It's a re-make of "The Wolf Man" (1941), not to be confused with "The Wolfman" (1961) which is quite different, and features all the usual werewolf tropes - moonlight, howling, restraining chairs, silver bullets, the link with mental illness, excessive body hair and posing on top of a (steam) bus, as well as some even more cliched cliches - I mean seriously, Cinema Industry In General, can we dispense with the father-son dynamic now? Also I have completely forgiven Daybreakers for it's occasional reliance on sudden scares - The Wolfman averages about three per minute, a form of shock therapy not unlike Talbot's treatment in the asylum.

There are some good things in this film. It makes great use of some wonderful historic settings, and you probably won't see a more beautifully lit film this decade: for fans of being able to see things in films this will be a big bonus. Fans of seeing guts drawn out of stomachs like Mr. Punch with a string of sausages will also not be disappointed. The werewolf itself is quick and vicious and rapidly establishes that it can decimate a village in minutes. Benicio Del Toro as Talbot makes for a brooding Heathcliff of a hero while Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving both deadpan their way through the better parts of the script, making for some funny scenes. Emily Blunt does her best with much weaker material and makes for a captivating if vacuous heroine. It's not her fault, people! Overall this is entertaining light entertainment but nothing memorable.

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