The Wolfman (2010)

PLOT:

It’s good to know that Hollywood isn’t afraid to crank out a good old-fashioned shitty monster movie. Then wait 70 years, dig up the script, have it re-written by epileptic crack babies, re-imagine the lead as a sleep-deprived Puerto Rican, use the same makeup from the old movie, dim the lights, hire Danny Elfman and call it a day. Seriously though, this movie is fucking terrible.

It begins promisingly enough: with a violent goring in the foggy English countryside. It drifts abruptly downhill when Benicio shows up the next day as the dismembered man’s brother (seemingly adopted from a third-world country) and begins his bleary-eyed investigations. His father, Anthony “Scarier when he doesn’t look like Santa” Hopkins, takes Benecio to the local bar for the obligatory “werewolf rumors” scene in which the local drunk’s wolfman-related theories surrounding the murders are whole-heartedly dismissed by the rustic villagers. Later that night, Benicio seeks a second opinion from the nearby Gypsy camp, and receives one in the form of a shoulder bite from a mysterious moves-to-fast-to-see-because-we-didn’t-budget-effects-for-this-part-of-the-movie assailant.

Bencio del Lobo wakes up several days later to find that the townspeople have completely changed their minds about the existence of werewolves, and specifically the probability of him being one. The angry mob outside his door is led by Hugo “You’re a werewolf, Mr. Anderson” Weaving, an inspector from London who has decided that our hero is guilty of wolfery before he even has the chance to pop a fang. Benicio responds by moping about the castle for a few weeks, lackadaisically hitting on his dead brother’s wife, played by Emily “This isn’t a Jane Austin movie? Fuck you, I’m acting like it is” Blunt.

The main problem with this movie is that a fucking MONTH goes by between each wolf attack, and you feel every minute of it. When Benicio finally does transform, which greatly increases the believability of his performance, he goes on an all-too-brief killing spree before reverting to his sad-eyed self and being confined to a mental hospital for delusions of wolfdom (the townspeople seemingly having changed their minds again about the existence of werewolves). In the hospital, it is revealed (in what is either some kind of hallucination or merely poor film-making) that the elder Hopkins was in fact the first wolfman, who had lain in wait since the 1941 original for the lazy Puerto Rican that, legend had it, would one day attempt a half-hearted remake, thus damning himself forever. Things escalate quickly to the obligatory wolf vs. wolf brawl. After that there’s one last perfectly good goring opportunity with Emily Blunt, which is ruined by a truly reprehensible “werewolf-in-love-realization-face,” before the credits mercifully roll.

AMBITION: 3

I don’t think I could call this movie ambitious. At best it’s an unimaginative remake, and the few significant changes actually seem to make the film worse. They’ve quite conspicuously added a twist to the plot, but it seems senseless and forced, and the few improvements contributed by innovations in special effects are more than cancelled out by an enourmous step backwards in the acting quality.

PRESENTABILITY: 2

Weak. More or less limited to yelling “Oh shit!” every time someone is abruptly gored and then lapsing into a light coma for the intervening 45 minute lulls.

SEX/VIOLENCE: 5

The love aspect is truly pathetic. There’s no chemistry, not freaky wolf sex, and possible the gayest rock-skipping-by-the-lake flirtation scene in the history of rock skipping or gay sex. The violence earns it’s 5 points; there were enough entrails and ripped-off jaws to keep me satisfied, but the dim lighting and jerky camera movement was, I’m sure, not a creative contribution that was missed in 1941.

PERFORMANCE: 2

Give me the fucking keys you fucking cocksucker!

Benicio is one of those rare actors who vacillates between Oscar-worthy performances and an outright offensive lack of interest in the words he’s speaking. When he’s bad, he’s very, very bad, and here he’s the worst. If you doubt me, another filmic example of B the T letting his soul die a little onscreen is 2003’s “The Hunted,” co-starring Tommy Lee Jones. I read that he was a fan of the original “Wolf Man,” and he signed-on to this movie as a producer, so it’s not like he doesn’t care. I think he just interprets “minimalism” as “hungover,” and in a movie with month-long stretches of abismal humanity between the fun bits, that’s a hell of a deal-breaker. Hopkins, on the other hand, quite clearly doesnt give a fuck, but still bares his teeth enough to have some fun. What few points he would have earned, however, are cancelled out by the “wolfman-realization-face,” a horrible close up on the wolf-man’s eyes at the end of the movie as he struggles to remember his humanity. It is physically painful to watch.

DATABILITY: 4

This movie is very 2010, in that it is a forgettable money-maker relying on the strengths of something created 70 years ago, while abandoning plot and performances in exchange for effects and one-liners.

SCRIPT: 2

There’s a man who turns into a wolf. Folks get gored. It’s a tale as old as time, and yet in this movie you can really feel the committee of Hollywood assholes batting around ideas until they create something thoroughly confusing and unenjoyable. The script is safe and boring and best, and the bad structure is hard to ignore.

RELEVANCE: 2

I don’t know what, if anything, you could take away from this movie, besides the lesson that townspeople are fickle, gypsy camps are not generally a safe place, and Anthony Hopkins is rarely to be trusted.

ORIGINALITY: 1

See ambition/script. This is not an easy story to fuck up. And yet…

CINEMATOGRAPHY: 3

Some cool shots, but too reliant on jerking the camera around in the dark and fog to create tension. Also I just remebered the “Wolfman realization face” again and knocked off another 2 points. It is just so, so, so lame.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: 3

They did a pretty good job of recreating the look of the original, which was dictated by the limiting make-up techniques of the past. These days you can see scarier werewolves in a Harry Potter movie, but the priority was the preserve the Omish style facial hair of the 1940s concept art, which is mostly satisfying in that it conceals del Toro’s sad attempts at facial expressions.

TOTAL: 27

Like having severe constipation necessitating multiple enemas, which are administered by a savage wolfman. However midway through goring your back end, he become stricken with ennui, and shuffles off to pace the halls of his mansion for a month, leaving you spread eagle on your stomach with an asshole like a Georgia O’Keefe Painting.

THIS MOVIE AS REVIEWED BY THE TEENAGERS SITTING BEHIND ME:

“Oh shit!”

“That fool got fucked up!”

“You wolfman, are you gonna hit that? I’d hit that, and I ain’t even a wolfman!”

Re: Benicio’s milky-white anti-wolf medication: “What’s that he’s drinkin’? Is that cum? OH SHIT THAT’S CUM RIGHT THERE! DAAAAAAMN!” (45 minutes of cum jokes ensue).

“Wolfman be howlin’!”

“Yo, what the fuck is goin’ on?”

“How come nothin’s happenin’?”

“Man, fuck this movie.”

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~ by mgjk on February 17, 2010.

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