Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving
The legend of the werewolf has been around for a long time, much like the vampire mythology. Though not as famous as its bloodsucking cousin, it has been adapted into film and TV in many incarnations. This film though is an adaptation of the 1941 classic film.
The Wolfman is set in 1891 England, where a series of gruesome murders have taken place. Lawrence Talbot is our protagonist, a man who had spent a majority of his adult life in America but now is visiting his homeland England as part of his theatre company. He gets a letter from his brother's fiancee, Gwen Conliffe, informing him that his brother is missing.
Lawrence returns to his home, only to learn from his estranged father John that his brother was found dead a day earlier. His body looked like it had been ravaged by a wild animal.
Lawrence promises Gwen that he will find out the truth behind his brother's death. Following the rumour mill going around town, he visits the gypsy camp nearby and subsequently gets attacked by a wolf like creature. And as you'd expect, he now has the werewolf curse and is doomed to become a lycan when the moon is full.
Hunted by the law, Lawrence tries desperately to keep himself from harming anyone, especially Gwen whom he has now fallen for. But a dark secret revealed by his father will change everything.
For the record, I dislike period films, because they tend to be dull most of the time. But thankfully, The Wolfman isn't about being a period film, it's about the legendary creature set in a period type film. That being said, I always admired the authenticity the filmmakers are able to create for their work. England does have many historical areas that have lasted for decades, so it is an advantage to film there, I guess. But credit still goes out to Joe Johnston for making the look overall seem perfect. He sets the tone mostly in dull grey to reflect the darkness that is to come.
There is more to mention. The special effects and makeup to visualise the wolfman and his transformation is pretty impressive. I also liked the fact that Johnston didn't hold back in depicting the gore and violence here. After all, what's a werewolf film without the blood?
Benicio Del Toro has that special quality to play the leading man here. Maybe it's his face that holds the key, he just has that look that reflects a man who has many skeletons in his closet, yet does everything he can to hold his demons back and be a good person. His Lawrence Talbot is wonderfully contrasted by Anthony Hopkins, who plays his father John. Hopkins is of course no stranger to playing mysterious characters with evil overtones, and he does so here with much charm. Emily Blunt does good as the damsel in distress Gwen Conliffe, just managing to be more than eye candy for the guys. Finally Hugo Weaving does a slight variation of Agent Smith in becoming Inspector Abberline, the detective assigned to hunt the beast.
If The Wolfman has a flaw, it would be how it plays out. With a story like this, you ought to know already how it ends. But then again, this film isn't about surprises (unless you mean the sudden scares to jerk you out of your chair), it's about having fun for two hours. And I had fun indeed.
Verdict: Go see it. And enjoy it. (4/5)