In 2018, a rebooted version of The Wolf Man will howl it’s way onto the screen, as part of the new Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe. The 2010 remake obviously wasn’t deemed good enough. Well, I’m inclined to agree.
Hampered by a protracted production, that saw the release date pushed back two years, this version of The Wolfman is a strangely limp affair. A directorial change, script re-writes, re-shoots and re-edits all contribute to the messy end product.
The film stars Benicio del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, convincingly cast as a wolf-like being, but a bit less convincing as the world’s most famous Shakespearean thesp. Following the savage death of his brother, he returns to his family home in Blackmoor, where he encounters his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins on wickedly sinister form and clearly having the time of his life, chewing the scenery to pieces). Also on hand for all the lycanthropic fun is Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), the fiancée of the dead brother.
We all know what happens next. I’ve been bit. I’m dying. No wait, I’m healing suspiciously quickly. Gosh my senses have all improved. What’s that, a full moon? Uh-oh. Rip, slash, gouge, mangle. Long hoooooowwl. Angry villagers. Silver bullet. The end.
Predictability aside, this is a surprisingly sumptuous gothic production, but it is marred by less than impressive CGI. The question has to be asked, why hire Rick Baker (the genius makeup artist behind An American Werewolf in London) if you’re going to mostly use digital effects?
The film is not without it’s pleasures, but it is too wildly uneven to provide a coherent viewing experience. Del Toro and Blunt are clearly in a version of the script that was subdued, moody, misty and gothic. The body dismembering, gleefully blood-soaked attack on a gypsy camp however, was more than likely written on coloured pages.
With a little more focus, this could have been very good, but whether you see the theatrical cut or the even more confusing extended cut, this has to go down as a missed opportunity.
Cast: Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving Director: Joe Johnston Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker & David Self Released By: Fabulous Films Certificate: 15 Duration: 103 mins Release Date: 14th March 2016