Directed By: Joe Johnston
Written By: David Self & Andrew Kevin Walker
Cinematography By: Shelly Johnson
Editor: Walter Murch & Dennis Virkler
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, Guy Pearce, Art Malik
Lawrence Talbot’s childhood ended the night his mother died. His father sent him from the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor to an insane asylum, then he goes to America. When his brother Ben’s fiancée, Gwen Conliffe, tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns to his father’s estate to learn that his brother’s mauled body has been found. Reunited with his estranged father Sir John Talbot, Lawrence sets out to find his brother’s killer, and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. Someone or something with brute strength and insatiable blood lust has been killing the villagers, and a suspicious Scotland Yard Inspector named Aberline comes to investigate.
The art direction is luscious and the special effects by Rick Baker are exquisite. The film even has top notch actors yet it this film feels flat.
Anthony Hopkins virtually chews up the scenery here you can tell he’s having a good time but at times is over the top which actually injects the film with a certain amount of interest and entertainment.
Benicio DelToro a gifted actor but really for this role anyone who was credible could have played it. He’s a virtual stand in for a lead character. His bowl haircut in the beginning was a embarrassing enough style choice swallowing his cool quotient and hiding his debonair good looks. It’s rare we get to see him onscreen and when we do it’s always a gift but here I think he was going for a paycheck and a little box office notoriety. Plus maybe he signed on and was not able to get out of the film once the original director Mark Romanek dropped out.
Emily Blunt I can’t believe she dropped out of IRON MAN 2 for this not that the other film was better but she would have at least had more to do in the other film. In this film she has the typical love interest role but this being a period piece it at least had her bountiful bosom heaving as she runs from the beast.
Hugo Weaving is good in the film I only wish Van Helsing could have played more like his character he is a good franchise character stoic and with a hint of danger.
I have no problem with the story being a period piece. It is somewhat inspired as a remake it seems to be a good idea and looks great but the story could have been worked on as the 1st half of the movie is slow but once the werewolf scenes start it seems to race to the finish line as the second half becomes scene after scene of attacks and it does make the movie move along. These are the only reason to watch the film after awhile. The transformation scenes are done more with makeup then digital effects. Which is amazing and gives the film cool points as Rick baker does his most inspired work in years giving the werewolf an old school look with a new school design.
The film just seems to start with little background and focuses on the tortured soul while throwing in some romance. So that it always feels that we are in the middle and missing some of the dynamics of the beginning or just certain details. As it seems to be a studio horror film with independent leanings at times. As far as trying to reach an intimacy with the characters and story.
The attack scenes are surprisingly gory but are so quick they never exactly register though they are gruesome. They are the most exciting aspect of the film. but keep in mind I saw the unrated version.
Though it seems right in line with a studios ideal choice Joe Johnston makes a better film then I would have expected based on previous films which while fantasy based more play to kids and nostalgic adults. Though in my mind the film is ultimately a failure. You have to keep in mind he was a last minute replacement so the full blame can’t be placed on his shoulders. I still would be interested in seeing what Mark Romanek would have done with the material. Joe Johnston does the best with what he can I mean this is the first film he has made that is rated R. So he was already out of his comfort zone. There is some good stuff in here if only the whole movie could have been filled with it.
I’m sure the film looks great on Blu-Ray, Wait for it on cable.