The Wolfman Review: Scriptshifters Undo Shapeshifter
This noir-laden remake of the 1941 classic opens punchily, will have you hiding behind your popcorn from the opening exchanges and creates an deliciously dark atmosphere with ease.
But while the film threatens to be great in some parts, in others it lets itself down quite badly – The Wolfman flashes but never sparkles. While Del Toro and the rest of a well-respected cast are fine, you are left with the feeling that something (or several things) weren’t quite right.
The film was borne out of conflict and unfortunately that turmoil has transferred itself to the screen. Frantic re-writes, re-shoots and disagreements over the guise of the titular character leak on to the screen tellingly, making The Wolfman very creaky to say the least.
It was rumoured that the original director left the project after disagreeing with Del Toro over the visual realisation of the beast. While the transformations themselves are superb, the finished article (allegedly chosen by Del Toro) seems to hark back to a 40s style – which although iconic – looks a bit tired in the modern era.
What saves the film is some fine performances from Emily Blunt (something of a period drama specialist) and Anthony Hopkins as the old lord of the manor where our story begins in the 1890s.
Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) returns home after his brother is found brutally murdered in the woods of Darkmoor and begins his obligatory investigation by questioning the group of gypsies that townsfolk scapegoated.
Obviously the gypsies are not to blame, but while he is at their camp a mysterious and fearsome animal descends upon them and eats several people in gory fashion. After chasing the monster, Talbot is also attacked, and although he survives he soon starts developing hair in strange places.
Talbot – who by now is getting close to his brother’s widow (a bosom-heaving Blunt) – struggles to contain his mania, while trying to find the animal responsible for the original series of murders.
It all sounds good, but a very passive protagonist and an antagonist who seems unwilling to even be identified disables this film somewhat. Which is a shame.