The stink of Van Helsing pretty much put the kibosh on Universals plan to reboot their classic monsters. Dracula films always seem to pop up every few years, and most are hunks of shit. It should be fairly obvious to my regular readers that I fucking love Werewolves, and am predisposed to liking their films despite what can sometimes be glaring flaws, so hearing that Universal was releasing a dedicated reboot of the Wolfman, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
What we got was a somber, moody, dare I say Gothic interpretation that draws from greater influences than just its original source material. The story is largely the same, Lawrence Talbot becomes cursed after a cruel run-in with fate. He will become a savage beast with the rising of the full moon…and just as before, the Gypsies know EXACTLY what is happening to him and do nothing to stop it, just spew exposition. That part always bugged me.
Drawing influences from Jack the Ripper, The Hound of The Baskervilles as well as Werewolf of London, the film feels like a completely new experience while maintaining an iconic familiarity as well. Hugo Weaving is perfectly suited in his role of Inspector Aberline, and Anthony Hopkins, though restrained, is amazing as Sir John Talbot. His muted and sometimes lifeless portrayal fits that of an aging man who has been afflicted from Lycanthropy for years, has had it take his loved ones from him, and who now only lives for when the Moon is full. As much as I usually love Benicio del Toro, I found his portrayal of Lawrence Talbot to be odd. The Lawrence from this version has been in an asylum from a young age, and has spent much of his adult life as an acclaimed actor. It’s established from early on that Lawrence has a troubled relationship with his father, stemming from the night his Mother died. Any interaction between the two as adults is tense, cold and usually slows the pace of the film right down. Ultimately, I think it works though. The eerie setting of Talbot hall provides a creepy backdrop for these damaged characters to explore the tragedy of their lives. One criticism is that nobody really has big reactions to anything, but it kind of makes sense. Sir John is distant and aloof and has been ever since the death of his wife. “Look into my eyes Lawrence. You’ll see that I’m quite dead”. For Lawrence, the death of his brother basically sits on the surface, “I’ve missed his whole life”, and discovering that both he and his father are Werewolves feels to him like he is relapsing to his “delusions” as a child. He knows them to be true, because the insane don’t know they are insane, yet the insanity is real…making him sane after all. Maybe I’m reading too much into it and it’s just shitty acting/writing. OK, enough bullshit…WHAT DOES THE FUCKING WEREWOLF LOOK LIKE?!?
I like the design, it feels like an updated/more fleshed out version of the iconic Lon Chaney Jr. version. Making good use of both practical and CG effects, and the creature runs both upright, as well as on all fours. FX legend Rick Baker lent his mastery to the project, although I was disappointed the transformation scene was CGI, instead of letting Baker dazzle us with another groundbreaking scene. Is the film perfect? Fuck no. But it hits all the needed requirements for an excellent fright Flick. Now if they would just make good on the tease of a sequel starring Hugo Weaving, I’ll be happy.
I’ll leave you with words from The Man himself, Sir Anthony Hopkins. http://youtu.be/z98S-o2Oy2E