Monday, October 4, 2010

The Wolfman

If The Wolfman isn't a letdown, I don't know what is. Directed by Joe Johnston, this promising film has an all-star cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving, Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro as the titled character. Of course on top of that, the film has the classic story to back it up as well. So what went wrong? Well, lots of things. The film has a notorious history of having several last-minute changes, including in direction, composition, writing, and screen-time. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out for the best. The opening scene is the best foreshadowing for exactly how to expect the rest of the film to go. A scared man, nervously holding a lantern in the middle of the woods (at nighttime!) is running from something spooky, and we soon realize it is a werewolf, who eats his face. He howls. Enter opening credits. If one word should be used to describe this film, it is predictable, and this is where the movie falls short of entertaining me. However, I gave this scene the benefit of a doubt for being an intentionally campy movie, which I have a weakness for, but my hope was in vain.

What is also revealed from this opening scene is there is absolutely no tension built up in this movie, at all. The man who was eaten for dinner in the beginning happened to be Lawrence's (del Toro) brother. His brother's widow (Blunt) asks him to come home to figure out what happened to his brother, but he really doesn't give a rat's ass about his brother, because he's a working man, damnit! Enter the next scene, and he's back home investigating the death of his brother, because apparently the editor forgot to squeeze in the scene where Lawrence has a change of heart and stops being a total douche bag. Benicio del Toro, might I add, looks even more bored on screen than I was watching it. This is obviously a movie he regretted signing up for. Hopkins, who plays del Toro's father, is another actor too talented to be in this film,  and delivers his lines fine, but that doesn't make the poorly written dialogue any better. It's as if he knows this, but he is just having fun with it anyway. Hugo Weaving gives the only performance worth noting, but it isn't enough to save the film from the hole it has dug itself into.

The violence is absolutely senseless. It mainly consists of a werewolf swatting heads off of people about forty times, maybe tearing off a limb here and there. About every time the werewolf approaches somebody, I would secretly hope something original to happen. Wait for it, wait for it...oh. He swatted his head off. Again. Fun to watch the first time, dreadful the next three dozen times. Fast forward to the third act, because the second one really isn't worth mentioning. By the time the big, "climatic" scene occurs at the end, I gave up all hope in this film, if there was any left in me (don't read the rest if you don't want the ending ruined). Two characters, who have absolutely no chemistry together on screen, go into a big battle to the death. Father and son have a fist fight and turn into wolves. In  undeniably the greatest shot in filmmaking, Hopkins rips off his shirt just like Hulk Hogan prior to entering battle (in a room that's on fire!) After watching a fight similar to watching a couple of dogs fight over a bone, Lawrence pushes his father into a fire pit. Then swats off his head. Mind blowing!

There wasn't one point in the movie where I knew exactly what the film was trying to be. Campy? Dramatic? Scary? Whenever I begin to take the movie seriously, lines like "I'm a monster!" are actually uttered. If you haven't gotten the point already, I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone, really. It isn't even worthy of a guilty pleasure, or "bad" in a "so bad it's good" sense. Just bad.