Directed by Joe Johnston
Released February 12, 2010
Monster movies aren’t supposed to be Shakespeare. The same expectations aren’t in play. Writing and story come second to visual effects and a good chance to scare the hell out of the audience. What matters most is a villain that can truly inspire fear in the hearts and minds of its characters, and by doing so, grip and captivate its audience. Usually it takes a while for the villain to physically appear on screen, so that part of the thrill is not knowing exactly what to expect. This film’s title provides an obvious spoiler about the identity of the monster in question, but that shouldn’t change how frightening the film is.
It’s not the fact that the true form of the villain is known that makes “The Wolfman” a bad film, but rather the lack of anything else to make it good. The period setting was a good way to forgo the safety and comfort of electronics and modernity to make it all the more scary, but that advantage is wasted. The setting instead serves as an excuse for poor dialogue and messy scenery. Despite the presence of the lovely Emily Blunt, the performances from Oscar winners and onetime greats Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro are regrettable. While this isn’t a movie about acting, they contribute negatively to the experience by not using any of their proven talents and phoning in their characters.
“The Wolfman” features excessively cartoonish gore, with multiple fingers being ripped off at once and helpless victims clutching and moaning at their bloody predicament. Instead of being legitimately fearsome and scary, the mauling is played almost for laughs. There are no terrifying moments in the film, and few jump scenes to wake the audience up from the slumber that is induced by viewing the film. The story is remarkably simplistic, and it’s awfully devoid of real content that should contain so much gruesome violence and horror. Instead, it feels like it goes on for age when in fact nothing actually happens. Worse still, there isn’t even a shocking or controversial twist in place, and everything plays out exactly how anyone who casually wandered into the theatre might expect. Any hope of salvation in the film’s latter half or final third should not be held out for because it’s not coming. Don’t fear the wolfman, because there’s nothing to be scared of, except the disappointing reaction you’ll have upon exiting the theatre after seeing this movie.
Monday, February 22, 2010