Movie Reviews

Film Review: “The Wolfman”

(Universal. 1 hour, 35 minutes. Rated R for bloody horror, violence and gore. Directed by Joe Johnston.) Benecio Del Toro (Lawrence Talbot), Anthony Hopkins (Sir John Talbot), Emily Blunt (Gwen Conliffe), Hugo Weaving (Detective Aberline), Art Malik (Singh), Geraldine Chaplin (Maleva). Music by Danny Elfman.

Sick to death of vampires? Here’s your chance to revisit another classic monster from the Universal stable. Oscar-winners Hopkins (looking strangely amused) and Del Toro (brooding) star as lycanthropic father and son in this just-OK relaunch of a very old franchise. Story sticks to the source material: when Lawrence’s brother Ben disappears, he returns from many years abroad to his family estate, to find his destiny intertwined with the local legend of a werewolf curse. Also looking for answers is Ben’s fiancée (Blunt). Great-looking production (and the work of makeup whiz Rick Baker) may amuse you and gross you out by turns; it just won’t scare you very much. Over the last 70 years we’ve seen werewolves in various incarnations: way before New Moon and this, there was The Howling, Wolfen, An American Werewolf in London, Jack Nicholson’s Wolf…and do you remember Michael Landon pre-Bonanza in I Was a Teenage Werewolf and its remake with Michael J. Fox, Teen Wolf (then-headline: “Fox plays wolf”). But Universal’s original Wolf Man from 1941, Lon Chaney Jr., elicits more sympathy than Del Toro. The movie looks great, though: did I mention that? Composer Elfman, the go-to guy for gothic since his long-ago Batman score, provides effective mood music.

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