Monday, October 11, 2010

"The Wolfman"(2009)d/Joe Johnston

Though I'm definitely a splatter-era horror aficionado,I spent most of my formative years taking in the classic originals,with The Wolfman at the top of my favorite list,due to my old man's equally nauseating love for said monster and film.
After hearing about all the problems leading up to the release of the remake of Universal's 1941 classic(musical directors,complete re-edits,reshoots,musical release dates),you'd expect the worst for such a seemingly cursed production.Having finally taken in the entry-in-question for myself,I can report to thee,my beauties,that it ain't nearly as bad as I thought it was gonna be.Of course,if you're from the camp of people who expected this incarnation to blow Lon Chaney,Jr.'s clear out of the kennel,then this will be a very bitter Milk Bone for you to chew upon,indeed.The lush cinematography is atmospheric and artfully mapped out within for the film connoisseur to drink in,but upon a very schizophrenically scripted foundation,bogged down with a torrential downpour of cinematic cliches and in-jokes that could have the viewer wondering if he was watching an uber-expensive Howling prequel instead.Which is kind of the level it works on,strangely enough.
Del Toro,Hopkins,and even Hugo Weaving in a head-scratching turn as Abberline of the Yard(Shouldn't you be in Whitechapel investigating Saucy Jack,guv?)all turn in solid performances given the surroundings and circumstances.The delicious Emily Blunt is adequately sexy set decoration in her wood-inducing Victorian bustiers and corsets.Just as the money shot is to porn,so is the transformation scene to werewolf movies,and Wolfman's is nothing short of spectacular,if not perhaps a little too smooth,due to CGI.Despite mixed reviews,the film has grossed over 160 million to date,which means it has turned a profit,albeit a very marginal one,due to the ridiculous budget assessed to the production.Dog'll hunt,as they say.
"They do not see what lies ahead, when Sun has failed and Moon is dead."
The scene is the Blackmoor forest,1891.Ben Talbot,brother of acclaimed thespian,Lawrence(Del Toro),is on the run from a nightmarish mashup of both man and wolf.He doesn't make it.Ben's fiance' Gwen(Blunt)travels to London to inform Lawrence of his brother's disappearance,motivating the actor to travel via locomotive back to Blackmoor for answers.On the train,he comes into possession of a finely crafted sword/cane with an intricately designed silver wolf's head,after hearing of its French lycanthropic origins from an elderly gent(Max Von Sydow)he shares a compartment with.At the family estate,reconnecting with his father,Sir John(Hopkins)opens up old wounds like his mother's alleged self-inflicted Columbian necktie and own subsequent institutionalizing at his father's hands,and new ones,like the discovery of his brother's savaged,unrecognizable corpse,which he grimly inspects for himself at the local slaughterhouse.The locals blame a passing caravan of gypos and their dancing bear for the vicious murder,and after the funeral and Gwen departs for London,Lawrence pays the gypsy camp a visit.Angry townsfolk descend upon the camp,demanding the bear from the fly-by-nights,but a wolflike beast attacks,slaughtering locals and gypsies alike,and biting Talbot in the process.Maleva sews the fallen actor back together amidst protest from her peers,citing the fact that he can only be killed by somewho loves him now.At this point Gwen returns to Talbot Hall to nurse Lawrence back to health,and he recuperates fully after only a few weeks.Sir John's manservant,Singh takes the opportunity to show the young man a munition of silver bullets he's been stockpiling.
Yeah,dunk him again for that Che movie he did for Soderbergh.And again.And again.
Inspector Abberline(Weaving)arrives on the scene,deducing that Talbot was fully capable of eighty-sixing his sibling,due to his uncanny ability to play mentally disturbed characters like Macbeth and Hamlet,which is enough for Lawrence to send Gwen back to the city for protection once again.He then follows his father into the catacombs beneath a family crypt,where he finds Sir John has built a shrine to his dead wife that includes a chair with various leather and chain restraints built into it.He locks himself in,explaining that he's been dead for years.At this point Lawrence abruptly transforms into the titular wolfman and serves up tooth,fang,and claw-based suffering to the townsfolk who had set a trap in the forest for the beast.The next morning,Sir John leads the constable and his men to the spot where his son lies,bloody and back in human form.Oh,it's shocky/dunky time at the asylum for you again,little Larry.His father visits him betwixt the state-of-the-art health treatment procedures,and relates that god-awful time he was bitten by an unidentified feral beast in a remote Indian cave,and how his Sikh had taken precautions,binding him up every full moon cycle,except the night that he happened to kill his own wife and the night he knocked the Hindu cold after a heated argument,and happened to kill his other son,which awakened the hunter's primal urges to the point that he shouldn't like to be bound up on those glorious nights any longer.Who could blame the guy.In an observation room,Lawrence transforms into the lycanthrope,murdering the doctor in front of a throng of terrified onlookers then escapes into the night.Cue the father-son werewolf-off at Talbot Hall,which catches ablaze in the process,and the bestial battle which finds Sir John kicked into a fireplace and beheaded by the younger lupine creature.The inspector arrives to bag himself a murderer,but Gwen foils his silver shot,buying the law officer a bite from Lawrence,who chases off after the girl into the forest.The beast corners Gwen by a waterfall,but her appeal to his human soul buys her enough time to plant the necessary silver slug into his heart,freeing him from the curse.Flames engulf the estate,as she ponders where the man ends and beast begins.A howl is heard in the distance.
Talbot serves up a nifty dew claw laryngotomy.
Mark Romanek was the original director on the picture,but he bowed out over creative diffences less than a year later,allegedly over the werewolf design with Del Toro,among other things.Del Toro wanted the new creature to more resemble Lon Chaney,Jr.'s incarnation,which gives the viewer what he or she sees in the finished product.Makeup wizard Rick Baker,who also vied for the retro-look,(claiming he didn't have to do much work on the actor,who was hairy to begin with)handled the job here,as well was cameoing as Talbot's first victim.There were also problems concerning Danny Elfman's soundtrack treatment,but relating to you all of the difficulty in completing the film here might take another sixty years.All-in-all,the film has an undeniably gory B feel to it,and I'm not usually anti-B myself,but I can't help to think the producers were shooting for a classic,epic movie here,a sort of horror Gone With The Wind.The movie,despite its many setbacks and flaws,did a decent job of entertaining me,regardless,and my father,Chick/Chuck/Chaz/Charlie or Monte,for short,as he sometimes introduces himself,also liked it.You could watch a lot worse these days.Two wops.
"Did he say,"All ye, all ye 'outs' in free!" or am I hearing things?"


stonerphonic said...

I only saw this for the 1st time in September this year, and for sure it doesn't come close to the original, but it wasn't a bad outing for what it is.

Def nowhere near as bad as a lot of people have "reported".

I've done a lot worse than this!!!

beedubelhue said...

My sentiments exactly,Stone.I may give it a repeat viewing in the near future.


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