Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Wolfman

Incomplete transformation ...

After learning that his brother has disappeared, Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro), returns to his family estate to find that his brother was the victim of a ferocious attack. Lawrence decides to find out what happened to his brother all while trying to juggle relations with his brothers fiancée, Gwen (Emily Blunt), and his alienating father, Sir John (Anthony Hopkins). Inevitably, Lawrence is attacked in the same manner as his brother but manages to survive. This only leads to him being cursed with a transformation into a werewolf during a full moon.

1880's England is a lovely sight to behold from the opening minutes of the film and the gloomy weather, architecture and somewhat sombre tone of the film only go to visually highlight the very important Gothic themes with which the film will utilize. Thankfully this remains a constant throughout the film for the narrative does not. The story starts off interestingly enough with increasing debate as to whether a beast or lunatic is going around killing people. The plot thickens when it is discovered that Lawrence himself was placed in a mental asylum when he was younger and the introduction of Scotland Yard inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving) gives the film the very sense of mystery it needs. Though Aberline does very little in terms of tangible investigation as the film's opening few arcs fall away to some very quick plot reveals. And this is one of the major problems with the film's story as a whole: so much is revealed so quickly that the last third to quarter of the film contains nothing for the narrative beyond a poorly conceived romance between Gwen and Lawrence. This, in turn, only happens because character development in terms of relations is not fully realized. If anything, the asylum arc of the film is very enjoyable next to some fun, albeit rather violent, action sequences. And the inclusions of some genuinely good horror elements add to the dynamic, even if lacking, narrative.

The acting performances are also somewhat on the weaker side. Del Toro and Blunt seemed somewhat distracted. Of course the death of Ben Talbot (Simon Merrells) lingers over both of them but their melancholy never feels real. Both do become progressively better by the films end but never really enough to show what both are capable of. Hopkins has an intriguing role as the protagonist's father who lives in the family estate by himself but his character lacks the emotional impact to allow much from Hopkins. Weaving is the best of the lot and gives his character the life he needs to appear as both a concerned inspector of the law, while also a figure that could potentially see his duty as above common humanity. Weaving's character is not explored enough so his screen time can feel limited at times.

On a better note the technical aspects of the film are quite compelling. The very bleak look of the films setting hits hard the atmosphere that is to be expected from the remainder of the film. The CGI and special effects are largely good enough to help capture the Gothic essence but there is the odd moment where it seems poorly implemented, such as when there is a close-up of the werewolf running at a high speed. Architecture is used well with costume design clearing indicating towards as faithful a recreation of 1880's England as possible. Lastly the look of the werewolf himself is workable and exudes a promising menacing force for a monster film.

There is no sex and almost as little use of language. There is no direct nudity but a female character is shown from behind without a top on. Violence makes up for what is missing however, with some violent, bloody and gory sequences involving decapitations and other more beastly attempts at mutilation. As expected, these are all done during the night which somewhat blankets the violence but nevertheless it can be quite explicit even though the deaths are not lingered on for long.

There is much to love in the opening half of The Wolfman as it sets itself up for a potentially thrilling finale. But for all the intense Gothic atmospheric inclusions that the film uses for its foundation, such as the costume design, CGI and scale of the visual treat that is 1880's England, it nevertheless falls apart by the films end. If you wish for a dark and bloody exposition on a werewolf then you should be satisfied, but that does not stop some underwhelming performances and a thin narrative from impending the transformation of excellent ideas into an excellent film. At one point Sir John exclaims: 'The beast will have its day' but for now The Wolfman will have to do until that day comes.


Screen date: 10 February 2010
Release date: 12 February 2010

1 comment:

free movies said...

I found it as better horror one rather than a emotional movie. I was pleased with the cinematography and the performances too. Its a good movie and seeing it is a great experience.