Wednesday, February 10, 2010

THE WOLFMAN - Just Another Remake

THE WOLFMAN (thriller)
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Art Malik
Director: Joe Johnston
Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

FUNERAL SCENE: From right: Hopkins, Blunt and Del Toro

PREAMBLE: Oh well, another remake or re-imagining of an old classic. This time around, it is the 1941 horror film of the same name that starred Lon Chaney Jr and Claude Rains. Given the state if CGI magic today, are we going to get a reboot gem like The Dark Knight?

Not quite. Just another remake, like I said...

THE SKINNY: Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), a Shakespearean actor in the US, receives a letter from his brother's fiancee, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), requesting his help over his brother's disappearance. Reunited with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins) in England, Lawrence learns that his brother has been killed, brutally mauled by a monster near the family home in Blackmoor.

Scotland Yard inspector Francis Aberline (Hugo Weaving) comes to investigate, but as Lawrence's own search intensifies, he discovers shocking family secrets that trigger a bloody and tragic chain of events.

THE REVIEW: First, let's examine the strengths of this remake: a) The acting by the lead cast is blameless. Hopkins is commanding and totally engaging as the elder Talbot, while Del Toro is suitably riveting as the protagonist trapped in a beauty-and-the-beast dilemma. Weaving is the usual Weaving and we wonder if he had wandered into this movie straight from the set of The Matrix. The most captivating performance comes from Blunt - whose deft use of facial expressions and eyes conjure a huge variety of emotions from fear and disgust to longing and love.

b) The sets, technical aspects are way above average, with the dark and dank atmosphere of the moors helping to heighten dread.

And now, the flaws: For such a big production, the werewolf does not look scary or even menacing enough. Why, in certain scenes, the make-up even look amateurish and funny. And then there is the question of romance between Lawrence and Gwen which simply remains a question here. While Blunt oozes sex appeal, the romance is tepid. Our Malaysian censors may be culpable but the love story between the two is undeveloped or 'just badly executed'. What a waste of talent.

THE LOWDOWN: It's a whole lot of bark but no bite.


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