Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Wolfman

By Sati. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(103 min, 2010)
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Andrew Kevin Walker (screenplay), David Self (screenplay)
Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt
 

When the time is new, the remake comes to life...


People talk about remakes as if they automatically meant “bad movie”. It is not true – I greatly enjoyed new version of “Dracula”, “Dawn of the Dead” and “Solaris” is even in my top 20. Not to mention my favorite movie “Vanilla Sky” which is almost exact remake of “Abre los Ojos”. Even Academy honors them sometimes, take a look at “The Departed”. When somebody decides to make a remake he or she must realize they are getting rid of the biggest advantage here – original story. So if you are remaking the movie, 70 years after its initial release you better make sure you have some thing new to offer. Because if you not...then the only result is bad movie.

I'm going to start with the positives, since the list is shorter – Emily Blunt. She was the reason for me to see this film and I love her enough to forgive her participating in it. She's talented, beautiful, adorable. She does what she can here and as all English roses, she fits the movie. But she is replaceable here – it could be any other beautiful, young actress. But who knows, maybe it's a tradition to hire pretty English girl to wear beautiful costumes and look sad and distant.
The cinematography – beautiful. The movie had great atmosphere, everything was dark, grim, bathed in moonlight. The settings were terrific, all they had to do was to create characters. And they failed, oh so miserably.

Some scenes are wonderful – the episode in asylum – fantastic sequence, the nightmare scenes, sweet skipping stones scene. There is underlying tragedy and overwhelming sadness, written all over this movie, but because of the flaws the film is nowhere near to be good or satisfying.

First of all – the worst thing and the thing that ruins the movie is how the Wolfman looks. It's so tacky and cheap you have to look away not to laugh, but worst of all – it is not scary at all. And the scene near the end, where there are two of them....horrid. Which is weird because the transformation scenes are rather good, maybe most of the budget went there and they simply didn't have the money to finish. I read Rick Baker, who is responsible for doing make up wanted to pay homage to the old version, but I find it to be rather bizarre decision - isn't the point of remakes to shoot something better, with the use of modern cinematic technology? To prevent things which look campy before when there were no other ways to do them, from being campy now? The movements of the Wolfman are either too fast or to slow, to the point that when he was chasing Gwen near the end of the film I was laughing like insane and I suspect I am not the only one. Comparing to that New Moon werewolves would make me have a heart attack if I actually saw them live.

Second of all – the story. It is not engaging, I'm not even that concerned about the lack of chemistry between Gwen and Lawrence, chemistry is something that rare I'm not even waiting for this anymore, when it happens in movie it's like a miracle nowadays. Besides back in those times, everyone were that reserved, so I can pretend it is not a flaw. But the whole thing is just too enormous – gypsies, curses, detectives, family drama, weirdo kids in caves, too much. Some of the things don't make any sense – the whole gypsy subplot, the servant who lived in Talbot's house - it is confusing and essentially goes nowhere. Screw the fact the mystery itself is rather poorly explained and there are gigantic plot holes in the story, but the actors themselves don't seem to be interested in it, don't even make a tiny effort to care, then why would the audience?

And finally – Anthony Hopkins. He has, literally one good scene in the movie, where he scares off the people who came for Lawrence and delivers cold and hilarious monologue about this being his land and him being prepared to kill everyone. Everything else, especially the big reveal in the asylum is just terrible and laughable. He seemed to be rushing through the scenes as if he knew how bad the movie will be and how embarrassed he'll end up. And it's such a shame – after all he was in another iconic horror story and he was terrific there – I mean “Dracula” from 1992 by Francis Ford Coppola which seems to be timeless masterpiece compared to this movie.

But there is one thing, only one thing I cannot understand – the movie cost a fortune and studio lets Joe Johnston, the director of “Jumanji” and “ Honey, I shrunk the kids” direct gothic horror? Remake of iconic movie? What were they thinking?
Del Toro is a terrific actor and he does...well here, in this that at least he is not bad as the script or annoying as Hopkins. I never saw the original but I heard he too pays homage to the original, to Lon Chaney, who played The Wolfman in old version. Benicio was fine, but he lacked passion and torture. But he didn't bother me and I felt for his character a little.

Hugo Weaving plays detective Abberline, yes, the same one whom Johnny Depp portrayed in infinitely better and delightful „From hell”. He is fine, maybe even the best one among the cast, but he will always remain Agent Smith no matter what he does. Unless he of course wears a mask and there is a chance some of the viewers won't recognize him, but after all he has already done it.
The score is composed by Danny Elfman and I cannot believe I write this again but he too pays the homage, not to “The Wolfman” but to previously mentioned “Dracula”.It's a good score but it's terribly unoriginal, however it was a good background for scenes, especially the ones that were fast paced and sometimes, with enough of good will, it sounded a bit like “Sleepy Hollow” score with all the violent and terrifying sounds.

I'm a very skittish person, so a little fog, a little darkness, trees in the scene...I know something will jump out at any moment but I'm still scared. There are few scenes in the movie, which will probably be found by people who are not scared easily and completely sane to be not scary at all, but if you are fragile and your tempers are frayed like mine, you will jump on your sit few times.

But my expectations were low, after so many re-shoots what can become of the movie? I saw unrated version of the movie (additional 17 minutes of footage including appearance by Max Von Sydow, with the famous cane, I saw Comic Con people drool over when they saw it on the poster), so I fear to think how bad the theatrical one was, since extended cuts are usually better. The movie can be recommended only to the ones who like dark stories and gothic horrors and who are prepared to be satisfied only by the visuals of that movie. It's bad – it makes Brannagh's Frankenstein look good.

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