February 12, 2010 in Features

‘The Wolfman’ a ho-hum remake

Cary Darling (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram
 
Universal Pictures photo

Benicio Del Toro takes the lead in “The Wolfman.” Universal Pictures
(Full-size photo)

If werewolves are going to take their place at the front of the contemporary pop-culture pack with vampires and zombies, they’re going to need a better vehicle than “The Wolfman,” a somber yet ultimately silly take on the 1941 classic.

Considering how trouble-plagued the making of this reportedly was – original director Mark Romanek (“One Hour Photo”) replaced by Joe Johnston (“Jumanji”), numerous delays, reshoots and rescheduled release dates – “The Wolfman” isn’t the disaster that it might have been. But it’s not particularly compelling either.

Set in the late 1800s, the story revolves around Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), a man who left his childhood home in rural England and never looked back.

However, the strange death of his brother Ben (Simon Merrells), who was found in the woods attacked in the most savage way, prompts him to return and face his father (Anthony Hopkins) and try to solve the murder.

In one of the movie’s best scenes, Lawrence is set upon by the beast while at a Gypsy camp outside town. He survives but, of course, carries the curse that makes him dread the full moon.

Similarly, a scene where Lawrence shape-shifts in a room full of doctors who believe his problems are all in his head manages to be suspenseful. And Hugo Weaving (the bad guy in “The Matrix” movies) acquits himself well as a Scotland Yard detective.

Mostly, though, “The Wolfman” is more frightfully dull than frightening. Whether Lawrence is going all “Beauty and the Beast” with his brother’s fiancee (Emily Blunt) or engaging in some laughable wolf-on-wolf violence that is supposed to be the big climax (though the special effects aren’t particularly special), none of it adds up to much.

But werewolf fans, don’t despair. There’s always the third season of HBO’s “True Blood” (new and improved with werewolves!) to look forward to.

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