Directed by: Joe Johnston
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins
In cinemas: Now
Joe Johnston, the genius director behind Jumanji, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Spring Break Adventure is back, and it’s another world-beater. The Wolfman is a remake of the 1941 classic, coming in the wave of the supernatural/sexually repressed teenager craze. Clearly trying to cash in on Taylor Lautner’s rippling werewolf success, this is a by-the-numbers pseudo-horror film with some fantastic actors who really should have known better.
The film follows Lawrence Talbot, who returns to London from America after hearing of his brother’s demise at the hands of some preternaturally strong beast, and takes it upon himself to investigate. Nothing could possibly go wrong, until he is bitten by a strange creature and so on and so forth for a good two hours.
Special mention should go to Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving, who are predictably brilliant, and save the film from utter ruin. Weaving is as charismatic and cool as ever as Detective Francis Aberline, and the film lights up whenever his mutton-chopped face appears on screen, which unfortunately happens far too infrequently.
Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt both do passably well, but they honestly have decisively little to work with. You could cast Laurence Olivier as the protagonist and he’d still have to contend with wearing a modified gorilla suit and looking like an utter berk every time there’s a full moon.
The ‘wolfman’ scenes really are the downfall of this film. Werewolves have always been difficult to depict cinematically, but Johnston’s particular blend of CGI and putting-del-Toro-in-a-big-hairy-suit does not give him the terrifying nocturnal killer he was going for. Granted, we’ve come a long way since American Werewolf in London, but the effect is at best passable, at worst unintentionally hilarious.
On the positive side, Johnston does capture brilliantly the period feel of the piece, and depicts industrial-era London (particularly scenes in Lambeth Asylum) with a gripping Gothic feel and, at times, genuine cinematic flair. However, as pretty as it all is, it’s instantly forgotten once an inordinately hairy del Toro runs onstage.
In a nutshell: Go watch Teen Wolf; at least there’s a bit at the end when an extra takes his lycanthrope out