Academy Award winners Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and Benicio Del Toro (Traffic) tear up the screen in this action-packed thriller. Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) is lured back to his family estate to investigate the savage murder of his brother by a bloodthirsty beast. There, Talbot must confront his childhood demons, his estranged father (Hopkins), his brother’s grieving fiancée (Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada) and a suspicious Scotland Yard Inspector (Hugo Weaving, The Matrix Trilogy). When Talbot is bitten by the creature, he becomes eternally cursed and soon discovers a fate far worse than death. Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, The Wolfman brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins.
The mist rising over the moors feels right, and so does the slant of moonlight coming over a Victorian village-scape. And if the moon is full, this must be The Wolfman
, Universal's 2010 attempt to revive one of the crown jewels in its deservedly legendary horror stable. Benicio Del Toro takes on the old Lon Chaney Jr. role of Lawrence Talbot, an American visitor to his ancestral home in England. Talbot's brother has recently been torn to bits by a beast in the forest, leaving behind a grieving fiancée (Emily Blunt) and a not-visibly-grieving father (Anthony Hopkins). This central situation seems drained of blood even before the full-moon transfigurations begin to bloom, and Del Toro's Talbot--an actor by trade, which raises interesting possibilities for a story of a man divided by different personalities--is mystifyingly blank. The intriguing casting of Del Toro (what an opportunity for a cool werewolf!) comes to naught as Talbot seems to languish on the periphery of his own story. Hugo Weaving tries to generate some interest as the police inspector on the case, but he too is defeated by the combination of mechanical storytelling and bland computer-generated werewolves. The script skips from one exposition scene to the next, but nothing registers long enough to create character, tension, or the slimmest desire to see what happens in the next scene. Every once in a while director Joe Johnston (Jumanji
) finds a grand staircase or CGI fog that conjures up the atmosphere of the old Universal horror classics, but otherwise this is a clueless affair--not as bad as Van Helsing
, but flat-out dull. The movie can't even find a way to get the old Gypsy lady (Geraldine Chaplin stepping into Maria Ouspenskaya's tiny shoes) to deliver a proper recitation of screenwriter Curt Siodmak's great "Even a man who is pure in heart" doggerel from the 1941 film. Instead, it's thrown away in a voice-over at the beginning--one hairy way to start the movie. --Robert Horton