The Wolfman

The Wolfman just might be the worst movie I have ever enjoyed. A lot.

Disclaimer: It was Jerry’s birthday and we celebrated by enjoying margaritas before the movie, a quantity of which I will define as “some.” So it’s entirely possible that you might not enjoy this movie as much as I did. This could also depend on whether your specific tastes are as uniquely suited to The Wolfman as mine: camp, werewolves, bloody Victorian gothic, the word “prurient”, soap operas, and Benicio Del Toro. Oh and also camp some more. Unintentional camp, most particularly. This screenplay was just not in on the joke. The director, Joe Johnston (stepping in for original director Mark Romanek), wasn’t in on the joke either. But it certainly seemed as if the leads were!

Mr. Marla: “This movie is just a werewolf soap opera!” Marla: “Which is EXACTLY WHAT I WANT.” The melodrama, my god, the melodrama! Especially from Anthony Hopkins, phoning it in magnificently with his dry oh-so-very British delivery, repeating every terrible line at least twice.

“Never look back, Lawrence. Never look back.”

“You’ve done terrible things, Lawrence. You’ve done terrible things.”

Even!

“Lycanthropy. Lycanthropy.”

SO AWESOME.

Hopkins’ ludicrous monologues were so much fun. That man just does not give a shit about this movie. He played drunk dad:

smug dad:

and grim dad:

with equal disregard for the role. Benicio brought a little more effort to the table, and a LOT more hotness! Dang!

He was just smoldering chivalry cloaked in a well-fitted waistcoat, except for when he was all wolfy, at which point he was still pretty hot, but significantly less chivalrous.

Benicio did a fine job with this dumbass script, selling even the worst lines. (“I get your implication.”) And Hugo Weaving was masterfully Hugo Weaving-esque, meaning that every moment he’s onscreen, the movie rules. He’s just hardly ever onscreen.

Emily Blunt has very little to do here other than be pretty and earnest and make with the come hither eyes at Benicio Del Toro, a little too convincingly. (Jerry: “Watch out, John Krasinski. WATCH OUT.”)

The visuals of the film were splendid and poetic. I loved the bleak, muted coloring and the old-school sensibility brought by cinematographer Shelly Johnson. The Wolfman is made of dozens of stark monster silhouettes forced against the elegant urban or grim wooded backdrops. The silhouettes are overused, possibly, but they’re lovely.

The effects were great, and the gore was fairly decent. I’m surprised it warranted an R-rating, frankly, because they could have gone further, but there were some seriously rad kills. The audio was crisp and absorbing, with all of the growls and ripping flesh complementing the violence and gore perfectly. A lot of noise has been made about the werewolf transformation—the powers that be hired the great Rick Baker and then used CGI for the transformations, and the internerds were understandably chagrined. But there was no disservice done to Mr. Baker; the transformations looked natural and intense and he’s gone on the record to say that he’s happy with the finished product.

I love in the above-linked interview where Baker marvels at how massive Benicio’s mouth naturally is. Everyone keeps bitching about the CGI used on his mouth, but no, his mouth is genuinely that enormous.

Truly, what’s disappointing about this film is that it didn’t have to be so-bad-it’s-good. It should have been ACTUALLY good. Benicio as The Wolfman? C’mon people, that’s casting genius! The entire cast is pedigreed, the performances are all very good (other than Hopkins, who takes the hilariously negligent route), and the film had a large budget sufficient to create a beautifully gothic world. PLUS IT WAS RATED R! I was so excited about this movie! But The Wolfman was plagued with problems during filming, including changing directors and bringing in Danny Elfman’s unfinished score at the last minute. All of that could have been forgotten had the script not been so incredibly ridiculous.

The Wolfman is certainly not boring—the time actually flew by and I enjoyed myself mightily. But the melodrama was such that I honestly had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep my patented Marla guffaw from rocking the theater. You guys, at one point a character is giving dark exposition and THUNDER STRIKES, okay? The film is played straight but manages to be campy goodness all the same. So yeah, go see The Wolfman. Just don’t see it sober.

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7 Responses to “The Wolfman”

  1. “Ah, the prodigal son returns. My Son, you’ve finally returned.”

    Great review for a HIGHLARIOUS movie. My god, I cannot imagine what this movie would play like to a sober audience! There was a point, about 7 minutes into the movie, when the entire plot, “twists” and all, is made so painfully clear that you could probably leave right then, write the review, and no one would ever know the difference. I remember cause some drunk guy muttered something along the lines of “Well, I guess we know where this is headed.” Oh, and that drunk guy had a name. It was…. Me!

    All that being said, I did have a GREAT time with Wolfman. There’s something so cinematically pure and inherently wonderful about the image of a Wolfman silhouetted against the moon, howling, that no matter how crappy the movie is otherwise, I always shiver a little with delight when one of those shots comes up. For that second, I’m just a little kid at the movies.

    Course, then one of the actors delivers a line, and I am jolted back to the reality of being a 31-yr old drunk guy watching a really, really ridiculous movie.

    .

  2. Hmmmmm….. I was looking forward to this but now I’m not sure if I am disappointed or even more excited!! I’m going to say MORE excited.

  3. I hope this review didn’t scare anyone off seeing it! Cause someone needs to see this with me! Immediately.

    But then, I love bad movies.

    I like how Benicio’s waistcoat and billowy pirate shirt (from when he’s wolfed out) looks eerily similar to a Letterman’s jacket. I hope he was also shooting hoops.

  4. Well, Erin, I do believe that they’re remaking Teen Wolf. Maybe Benicio is really tired of not being pigeon holed?

    I was going to see this at the drafthouse, where I could get drunk during the movie, but I think I might have to forspill this one. Thanks for the heads up!

    Hopkins better put more effort into Lear or I’ll be so mad!

  5. LOL! A werewolf soap-opera. I enjoyed this review enough that I don’t need to see the movie. Thanks for taking one for the team and going to see the bad movies so that I don’t have to.

  6. i’m with jon– i don’t see how this movie could possibly be more entertaining than yr review. seriously, those pics of sir hopkins with yr captions = THNX FOR THE LOLZ.

    although i do dig the whole victorian goth scene. plus emily blunt IS SO PRETTY. so i still might see it. at the alamo. for free. with plentiful vodka sodas.

  7. I watched this movie this weekend! (Because really, the worse a movie is, the more I’ll want to see it.) HA HA HA HA HA, it was soooo awesome. I told Meredith that I think Anthony Hopkins thought he was in Legends of the Fall again. It was basically the same movie! Sort of!

    A real quibble I had with it was that Hugo Weaving played Insp. Abberline. What is that about?? But he did look a lot more like Abberline than Johnny Depp did in From Hell, the Movie Of Which I Do Not Speak.

    Meanwhile? It was still more enjoyable than Shutter Island.

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