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The Wolfman

The Wolfman

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

JOE Johnston’s revival of The Wolfman has undergone re-writes, re-shoots and delays aplenty, yet remains a surprisingly enjoyable re-invention for all the trouble surrounding it.

Based on Universal’s iconic horror film from 1941, which starred Lon Chaney Jr, the new version features Benicio Del Toro as the cursed nobleman who, upon returning to his family home to investigate the disappearance of his brother, is attacked by a werewolf and subsequently becomes one.

Sir Anthony Hopkins co-stars as his estranged father, while Emily Blunt provides the potential love interest. All are highly watchable and add star wattage to Johnston’s film. But it’s in the look and horror that it really comes alive.

The Gothic tone of the film is very well realised, while the numerous shock tactics are mostly effective, if a little over-employed.

The effects, though, are superb with the transformation sequences, in particular, ferociously authentic and the violence surprisingly gory with heads and arms frequently flying, or guts being splattered across the moor.

Yet while certainly modern in approach, Del Toro’s transformed beast owes more in style to Chaney’s wolfman rather than the CGI werewolves of the Twilight franchise.

The Wolfman doesn’t quite get away with everything, however, and the trouble hinted at during the film’s extended production period is evident in the quality of the screenplay, which somehow feels rushed.

Johnston’s film clocks in at a lean 98 minutes and is often a white knuckle ride as a result. But while it succeeds in look and shock value, it comes up short in terms of character.

The tragedy inherent in the way events play out is never fully realised, while characters never really get to channel the torment suggested by their curse, their history or their suppressed feelings for each other.

Blunt, especially, suffers… as does Hugo Weaving’s Scotland Yard detective whose history with The Ripper is briefly alluded to and then quickly discarded.

Such lapses and shortcomings prevent The Wolfman from emulating the classic status of its iconic predecessor and leave its new stars short-changed.

Audiences might not mind too much but you can’t help but feel that The Wolfman could have been so much more.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: June 7, 2010