"The Wolf Man" was a seriously underrated Universal Monster from their original stint of black and white films. Never quite utilized in the right way, the werewolf story tends to be severely hit or miss since those days spawning some pretty horrific franchises along the way. When it was announced that they would be remaking the 1941 classic, it was both exciting and disheartening. Just as the werewolf films since, "The Wolfman" is hit or miss through and through mostly and unfortunately dwelling in the 'miss' category.
Lawrence Talbot is finally returning home. With some difficulties at home as a child he was sent off to America away from his father and brother in England. Now his brother is missing, presumed dead, and Larry needs to find out why. He returns home to find a crypt of numerous dark secrets including one that bites him on the ass...and turns him into a werewolf.
The problem that plagues "The Wolfman" is that it is so fucking awkward through most of the movie. Joe Johnston definitely seems more able with the family film touch than as a Gothic Horror director and his odd attempts at humorous scenes stick out like a sore thumb and his attempts at creating a memorable visual experience come off as over the top and forced. Partner a lackluster directing job with some of the most awkward acting scenes from some normally very talented folks and this film just leaves the audience scratching their heads and asking 'what the hell?" far too much. Chemistry between actors shouldn't feel this forced and from the lot they have its an unwelcome guest.
The story is also filled with faux depth and added layers that over complicate the general tale. The writers and director of "The Wolfman" should have taken a note from the original and realized 'less is more' when it came to fleshing out this film. There are those moments that should have worked (the underused subplot of Larry's father's servant from India and his role in the picture for example) but the film bogs itself down with a self righteous feeling that it just comes off as frustrating.
There are things that "The Wolfman" does right. The action sequences work nicely and the increased violence and ferocity of the Wolfman himself brings the film into the modern age. Although the CGI tends to overrun Rick Baker's stellar make up effects, these moments are definitely the highlight of the film. I also have to give some props to Danny Elfman's old school sounding score for the film that makes it feel as though it has some sort of homage to the 40s classic.
"The Wolfman" just comes off as far too torn between being a true remake and a new film altogether. It just comes off as an awkward experience that had so much potential to be badass. Poor acting and poor directing are mostly to blame but a lackluster script does its damage too. Worth the rental but if you are a fan of the original don't expect a second full moon.
BONUS RANT: (Spoiler) So the werewolf throw-down at the end of the film could have been amazing, but it came off as really cheesy and poorly edited. When you have two werewolves going at it, it should be fucking epic. But its over far too quickly and seemingly feels out of place because of such. This movie couldn't even do a werewolf beatdown right!
Written By Matt Reifschneider