Movie Review: ‘The Wolfman’

BJ Grieve

“The Wolfman” starring Benicio Del Toro is the latest attempt by Universal Studios at rejuvenating the character for modern audiences. It is also the absolute worst.

Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot, a man summoned from the States to late 19th century England to investigate the strange circumstances regarding his brother’s death. Very odd, considering Talbot is a stage actor, but plot holes are the least of this film’s worries.

Talbot is summoned by Gwen Conliffe, his brother’s lover, who he has never met, but is all too quick to appease. Upon his return, Talbot discovers the mutilated corpse of his brother and very woodenly realizes that something most foul is afoot.

A gypsy camp is coincidentally in town, you see, and they must be responsible for the strange goings-on that are occurring in this sleepy little town. Talbot thus goes to inquire to these evil people about what is going on and is bitten by the actual instigator in a coincidental attack on the gypsy camp. This begins the lycanthropic nightmare that Talbot and the audience is forced to endure.

The sky is overcast, the scenery is murky and the characters are overacted. “The Wolfman” looks like a Tim Burton movie, but acts like a high school play.

Del Toro is evidently a graduate of the George Clooney School of Acting. At this school, the potential actor learns how to deliver smoldering glances and rely on their own “cool quotient” to deliver a tolerable performance. Pity though, that Del Toro is no Clooney, neither in “cool factor” or acting chops. At one time, the man could be depended on to deliver a great character performance, after all, this is the man that once delivered such characters as Franky “Four Fingers,” Fred Fenster and Dr. Gonzo.

The supporting cast is full of actors that have delivered very memorable performances but in this film are clearly only working for a paycheck.

Hugo Weaving’s portrayal of Scotland Yard Detective Abberline is such a disgusting archetype, the viewer would not be remiss to forget that this man has been acting for 30 some odd years and is actually quite good.

Academy Award-winner Anthony Hopkins is so busy chewing scenery and dialogue that the viewer is too busy anticipating administering CPR to actually notice how awful of an actor the man has become.

Blunt’s Gwen Conliffe is nothing more than a disposable character, one whose sole assignment is to instigate the plot and provide a pretty face. At one point she falls in love with Talbot, and her love is the one thing that can stop the curse. Their minor dialogue pertaining to their affair is so saccharine sweet that the viewer would expect to leave the theater in need of an insulin shot. No need to worry though, as this inexplicable love is never addressed further than one scene.

The largest atrocity by far is the script from Andrew Kevin Walker, scribe of the critically acclaimed “Seven.” Derivative, slow and blasé the actors are given very little to work with.

Words cannot express how truly awful “The Wolfman” is. This film is everything that is wrong with modern horror movies and cinema in general. The viscera looks great and the intestines flow like wine, but loud noises and sudden bursts of violin string do not mean genuine scares. This is a horror film that the viewer will not be horrified by, once the theater lights go on.

The one redeeming factor of this steaming pile of cinematic garbage is the creature effects. Makeup guru Rick Baker got his start in the industry through the inspiration of the original “Wolfman,” and his makeup hearkens back to the creature features of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Baker approached studio execs stating that he was simply the only man for this job. They in return told him that he was the only one they were thinking of, but since he had no agent, they could not get in touch with him. Goodie for Rick Baker – he is the silver lining on a huge piece of werewolf feces.

At the very least, there is a trailer for “Iron Man 2.”