Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Joe Johnston, 2010
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self
I’ve got just as many complaints as I have compliments for Joe Johnston’s THE WOLFMAN, but the crux of its failings is this; What’s the point? Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro) returns home to his estranged and aloof father (Anthony Hopkins) to investigate the savage death of his brother at the request of his now-widowed sister in law (Emily Blunt). Things are not as expected in back in England and, well, I don’t need to explain it. We all know Benecio Del Toro is then turned into a werewolf and starts killing people against his will. It’s really not that complicated.
And that’s the problem. THE WOLFMAN needs to be complicated. There needs to be torment behind those eyes in order for the audience to fear the full moon as much as Talbot does should. Yet this iteration has no such concerns. In fact, it’s not so much a creature feature as it is a zombie film. Johnston and company lurch mindlessly from one obvious plot point to the next as though the whole film were operating on muscle memory and the vague knowledge that at one point in its life it had a higher purpose. And low the purpose fell, the sets and makeup remained, so all involved went through the motions to deliver a horror movie that is entertaining in spurts but largely forgettable.
Universal’s resurrection of its classic monster is riddled with obvious holes in which to insert blame, but its troubled production is hardly the excuse here. Even if original director Mark Romanek had stayed on board, audiences would still have Benecio Del Toro, who is about as energetic as a pamphlet on lycanthropy. It’s astounding how uninvolved his performance is considering his love for the 1941 WOLF MAN is what got the project up and running in the first place. He exerts zero charisma throughout his non-wolf sequences, in turn giving the audience zero emotional interest in seeing him overcome the monstrous Gypsy curse.