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TAC Reviews...The Wolfman

Date Posted: 14/02/21


This film is a remake of The Wolfman made in 1941, and stars Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving and Anthony Hopkins. The film was directed by Joe Johnston. Whilst the film received generally unfavourable reviews and performed below expectations at the box office, it has found more success on the small screen.


The Wolfman Boxart


I like the lore that surrounds creatures of mystery on this planet with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and so on being something of a fascination for me. The medium of monsters gives film makers almost endless possibilities for interesting and creative ideas. Plus, when a film has the likes of Anthony Hopkins starring in it, then it is going to be worth a look at least.


In 1891, Ben Talbot is brutally killed by a savage and dangerous creature. His fiancé Gwen Conliffe (Blunt) tracks down Ben’s estranged brother, Lawrence (del Toro), a man who had not seen Ben since childhood. After returning home Lawrence has an uneasy reunion with his father Sir John (Hopkins).


Later as Lawrence tries to discover what happened to his brother, he comes across a gypsy camp, and is warned of a creature that stalks the darkness under the full moon. Some of the locals believe that the gypsies, and their dancing bear, are the ones responsible for Ben’s death, and try to run them off, whilst others think it is a werewolf. At the gypsy camp a savage creature suddenly, and ferociously, attacks, and in the confusion Lawrence is separated, and bitten by the creature.


Over the next few weeks Lawrence recovers from his wound and is viewed as having an unholy ability to heal. Around the same time Inspector Aberline (Weaving) arrives to investigate the recent deaths, suspecting that Lawrence may be responsible due to the fact that he spent a number of years as a child in an asylum.


On the night of the full moon Lawrence undergoes a painful transformation turning into a half-man, half-wolf creature that attacks and kills a number of townsfolk.


In the morning Lawrence is captured and sent back to the asylum, but his nightmare is just beginning, as he is now a cursed man, and will change into the Wolfman whenever the moon is full in the night sky...


Remaking classic films is always going to be tricky and The Wolfman proves to be no exception, however, if people are not familiar with the original then there is an opportunity for them to see something a little different than the usual werewolf movie. It is the current trend for werewolves to be twinned with another creature of the night, the vampire, and whilst this is sometimes successful (think the Underworld films) and sometimes an abysmal failure (think the Twilight films) it does mean that the two species cannot get away from one another. Thankfully vampires are left out of the mix here and although The Wolfman is flawed it is a little bit different to the current werewolf films out there.


On the plus side The Wolfman does boast an impressive cast, with all the players working hard in their respective roles. Typically it is Hopkins who steals the show with his portrayal of the emotionally dead Sir John, however, Weaving is also on fine form as Aberline, a man who was recently involved in the ripper killings.


The films builds up steadily to the moment when Lawrence is bitten by the creature and after that time starts to shoot past, basically so that the audience will not have to wait long for Lawrence’s first transformation. Time is the biggest problem with the film, simply because after one full moon, the days and weeks shoot past until the next full moon, and the next transformation. Consequently the atmosphere and Lawrence’s struggle with what is happening to him are lost, as are any genuine chills, paving the way for more current trends of over-the-top gore.


What works in the films favour are the make-up and other special effects. The werewolf looks like a cross between man and wolf, it walks upright on two legs, but runs using all four legs presumably because this is quicker. The appearance of the creature also looks similar to the 1941 version which allows this film to tip its hat to the original. The special effects are so impressive that at the 83rd Academy Awards the makeup artists, Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, received an Academy Award for Best Makeup.


This has been a bit of a short and snappy review this week. The reason for this are twofold, first I am working on a rather extensive review of Star Trek Discovery which is proving a little tricky considering all the stuff that I want to say about, as I want to keep it relevant, and interesting to read but there is a tonne of stuff to discuss. The second is that I am also working on Doom Eternal so am looking to get through that promptly so I can review it. On a side note I have changed the hard-drive in my PS4 so hopefully if it was the previous hard-drive that was causing it to keep crashing, corrupting and needing reformatting every week then with a bit of luck I can keep it going until I can get my hands on a PS5.


As I have wanted from the point let me finish off this review by giving The Wolfman a Thumbs Up, and advising anyone who wants to go as far from Valentine’s Day as possible to check out this decent chunk of horror.



6/10 - All in all The Wolfman does boast an A-list cast with impressive makeup effects and makes this film well worth a watch. If you are unfamiliar with the original and fancy watching a fun little werewolf movie then check it out. 


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© Chris Sharman