If we’re covering the classic 1941 The Wolfman I feel it’s only fair that I give equal time to the 2010 remake of the same name. I’d like to put my feelings toward this movie on record, and I figure what better place than my own blog?
So without further ado, I bring you tonight’s feature. Universal Pictures’ 2010 remake: The Wolfman
Year Released: 2010
Written By: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self (based on The Wolfman by Curt Siodmak)
Directed By: Joe Johnston
Starring: Benicio del Toro, Emily Blunt, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving
When world-renowned actor Lawrence Talbot learns his brother Ben has gone missing, he immediately leaves his acting troupe and travels back to his family home in Wiltshire, England. Once there, he has an awkward reunion with his father, Sir John Talbot, with whom he has a strained relationship. During this conversation, Sir John informs his son that Ben’s body has been discovered.
The next day, Lawrence goes to the slaughterhouse at which Ben’s body is being held, and is horrified by the mangled remains he finds there. He is given Ben’s personal effects, including a medallion it’s said he purchased from some gypsies at a nearby camp. After overhearing townsfolk chatter in the local pub accusing the gypsies of being responsible for the recent murders, including Ben’s, Lawrence decides to go and investigate, taking the medallion with him.
Once at the camp, Lawrence seeks out someone who can give him information about his brother, but before he finds answers, a group of townsfolk invade the camp and demand to kill the dancing bear traveling with the gypsies. While the commotion is occurring, an unseen beast suddenly strikes and begins killing townsfolk and gypsies alike. Lawrence witnesses a small boy running into the woods and attempts to save him, but is attacked by the beast and severely injured.
Once the dust settles, Lawrence is taken to Maleva, an elder gypsy who begins to repair Lawrence’s injuries. Maleva’s daughter begs her to kill Lawrence, to take pity on his soul, but Maleva refuses, as he is “Still a man” and “Only a loved one may kill him”.
Lawrence’s night of horror is only the beginning of a long and bloody journey he must now face, as he will soon learn that some family reunions are best avoided.
Here’s the thing. When I first heard that Universal was remaking The Wolfman, I was fairly unhappy. I don’t see the point in remaking a movie that did well and is still considered a classic to this day.
But then news started to eek out about it. Benicio del Toro, who I have been a fan of since his performances in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and The Usual Suspects, had been cast in the role of Lawrence Talbot, made famous by Lon Chaney, Jr. Sir Anthony Hopkins had been cast to play Lawrence’s estranged father, Sir John Talbot. Emily Blunt had been cast as love interest Gwen Conliffe.
A great cast paired with filmmaker Joe Johnston, who had previously directed action filled films like Jumanji and The Rocketeer and who would go on to direct Captain America: The First Avenger for Marvel Studios, is what intrigued me the most. And so I took a risk and laid down my hard earned money at the box office.
I must say, I was not disappointed.
Listen, I am in no way saying that this movie stands up next to the original. It doesn’t. However, I feel like it serves a couple of different purposes:
1: It serves as a love letter to the original film, as Benicio del Toro and effects guru Rick Baker are both huge fans.
2: If someone sees this version and becomes curious about the original, they might seek it out and be pleasantly surprised.
3: Who hasn’t imagined a bloodier version of The Wolfman?
Rick Baker wins his second werewolf-related Academy Award for Best Makeup for his work on this film, and I feel it’s well deserved. His makeup is obviously heavily influenced by the makeup work used in the original black and white film, yet he adds his own Rick Baker flare to it.
I’m usually against CGI in a werewolf movie, but this film does a decent job of weaving both practical and digital effects together fairly seamlessly.
Benicio del Toro delivers a great performances as Larry Talbot, matched only by Hugo Weaving’s turn as Inspector Aberline. Both Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt give memorable performances, as well.
The tone of the original film can be felt during certain scenes, but all things told, this feels very much like it’s own film, which I feel helps it rather than hurts it, as you are able to detach from it the memories of the original.
It is by no means a perfect film, nor is it even a perfect werewolf film, but it is a nice homage to one of my favorite classic movie monsters and for perhaps that reason alone, I truly enjoyed it.
Should You See It:
If you enjoy the work of Benicio del Toro and want to know what it’s like to see the director of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids make a horror film, I say go for it.