Sunday, 11 July 2010
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self, from an original screenplay by Curt Siodmak
Stars: Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving
Running Time: 103 minutes theatrical version and 119 minutes extended version
Genre: Horror, supernatural, thriller, monsters
Summary: In 1891, Lawrence Talbot (del Toro) is a successful Shakesperean actor on the London stage, until he is contacted by Gwen Conliffe (Blunt), his brother's fiancee, who informs him that his brother has been missing for a month. Reluctantly Lawrence returns to the family home of Talbot Hall in the village of Blackmoor, and to his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Hopkins). On arrival Lawrence learns that his brother has been brutally killed and decides to stay until he can find out what happened to him. Treated by suspicion by the superstitious villagers, Talbot turns his investigation to the local gypsy camp when it is attacked by a vicious and powerful creature which severely wounds Lawrence. The wound heals surprisingly quickly. However at the next full moon, Lawrence undergoes a horrific transformation.
Opinions: This film is a loose remake of the 1941 movie The Wolf Man which is remembered as one of the best of the "Universal Horror" cycle released by Universal Studios during the 1930s and 1940s and produced such classics as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) before being reduced to farce in a series of movies usually featuring Abbott and Costello. This movie is not as effective as the original, but it does stand up well in it's own right. It has an atmospheric, gothic quality about it, which it maintains throughout even when it becomes a riot of CGI effects. Of course it features all the usual hallmarks of the werewolf movie, including a gruesome transformation scene (which still isn't a patch on the one in An American Werewolf in London (1981)) and plenty of annoying villagers played by the usual cast of vaguely recognisable British character actors who are so irritating that you're kind of rooting for the Wolfman to turn them into Puppy Chow. The central cast are effective, especially del Toro as the tormented Lawrence Talbot and Emily Blunt who does well with an underwritten part. Anthony Hopkins hams it up well as the creepy Sir John Talbot. The thing that the movie does lack is any kind of subtlety piling on gore, bizarre nightmare sequences and CGI creatures. It also takes it's time getting going. Interesting the movie was released in a 103 minute long version in cinemas but is also available in an extended 119 minute version. In the extended version there is an early scene which was not in the theatrical version where Gwen visits Lawrence backstage at the theatre, which creates a continuity error later on in the movie when there are repeated references to Gwen writing a letter to Lawrence instead of visiting him. The extended version also features an uncredited cameo by Max Von Sydow.
This is an enjoyable movie, and it is nice to see a real werewolf movie without vampires, for a change.