As some might know, one of my favorite films of all time is The Wolf Man (1941). It’s cinematic brilliance at its finest, with great effects, an intriguing story and a main character you really care about. When I heard they were going to remake this film a few years ago I was ecstatic. When I heard it was going to be released in February, I was terrified.The movie follows Lawrence Talbot, an actor who returns home after his brother is killed by a mysterious murderer. The townsfolk believe that the killer was in fact a demonic monster that only comes out on the night of a full moon. Talbot sets out to figure out what really killed his brother and put an end to many more local murders before it’s too late, assuming it isn’t already.
The original Wolf Man film was about a man trying to solve a mystery when he is suddenly thrown into the more personal mystery of whether or not he himself is a werewolf. Sure the title sort of spoils it but it’s a great character story with a great payoff in the end. This is a slasher flick with absolutely no subtlety whatsoever, with countless gruesome slaughters of extras we know nothing about. Virtually no time is spent building Lawrence as a character or making him interesting in anyway. The movie also feels rushed as if it doesn’t care about the story but wants to get to the gore as fast and as constantly as possible. But the gore isn’t even interesting. It’s mostly just images of people’s faces being slashed by a horribly CG-rendered claw aside from one modestly entertaining scene near the middle of the film. For a film made in 2010, the visual effects are practically unwatchable.
As I pointed out, the characters are undeveloped pieces of cardboard who only do what the plot wants them to do. Lawrence’s brother’s wife instantly falls in love with him, leading to one of the most awkwardly spontaneous romances I’ve seen. There’s no build up and no emotion. Within the first ten or fifteen minutes it’s simply established that Lawrence’s brother is dead and his wife is now in love with Lawrence for some reason. Whatever. The only character with anything interesting to do or say throughout the film is Lawrence’s father John, played by Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins is one of those actors who gives the best performance he can no matter how schlocky the material given to him. He has fun with his role despite nothing he does making any sense. He would probably save the movie if he was in it more but even so the rest is just so irritatingly cliché and derivative that he’s merely a temporary saving grace.
The Wolfman is sadly a sloppy mess of a film with a generic, paper thin story and characters that can very easily be forgotten. It’s always a shame to see a movie you hold so dearly be so completely watered down despite a pretty decent makeup job.