Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wolfman (2010) – Review

The Wolfman is both good and bad, rather has both good and bad elements summing to decent overall experience. The film has a wonderful gothic atmosphere to it. The look, the sound, the ambiance of the world is perfect. Danny Elfman’s score will surely be among the best of the year. Shelly Johnson’s cinematography and Rick Heinrichs’ production design create beautiful looking (in terms of the tone of the film) Blackmoore (aka gloomy English countryside) and London sets that fit the mood of the piece and utterly, along with the score, enhance the overall fun of the experience for the audience. The principal cast is also very good. Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt are superb. Del Toro’s performance captures the agony of the curse that surrounds his family – he sincerely appears to be in anguish in the face of the damnation that has fallen upon him, which works quite well in juxtaposition to his father’s, Anthony Hopkins, bravado. Blunt is able to play the tragic nature of her plight, she is fabulous in the final scenes of the film, and along with Del Toro is able to emote honest emotion amongst all the special effects. The audience feels her heartbreak. This is where The Wolfman succeeds – fine acting, and astonishingly pitch perfect atmosphere. But the film falters in other places, holding it back from being a great film. Director Joe Johnston does a suitable job throughout, but in certain places trades narrative integrity (or at least opportunities for a better narrative, a more potent emotional connection) for seemly Hollywood thrills. For example, one of the main story elements is the conflict between father and son, Johnston resolves this in the Hollywood way of a werewolf versus werewolf fight, when the true conflict is between the men, thus a more effective resolution, which would resonate with the audience, would have been to have the son kill the father in human form. Also, the film, rather than being generally scary through the use of tension, takes the easy road of quick impact cuts and loud noises to make the audience jump. The CGI in the film is also not as good as it could have been at times, but this is more of a minor complaint. It is the narrative choices that hold the film back the most. All in all, The Wolfman is a fun horror movie, and a worthy addition to the classic movie monster stable of films. 7/10

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