Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review: The Wolfman

I had planned to write this yesterday until sidetracked by other news. I managed to catch the first matinee at the Spectrum (oh, how lucky to have the Spectrum!) and had a small crowd with which to see it, as it's not the usual fare of that venue.

The short review: it was fun! I enjoyed it immensely and not always ironically ;-)

The filmmakers really tried to capture the Universal monsters feel albeit with swanky CGI, speedy camera movement and a whole lot of gore. There was so much digital fidgeting that the settings looked as fake as an Universal set. You would think that in a film with an historical consultant (and a tarot consultant, Shakespeare consultant [really want to see del Toro's Hamlet!] and Siekh consultant) someone would have mentioned that you don't blow out oil lamps, but simply turn the wick down. Facts -- phht!

The cast was excellent; I think the director's charge to Benicio del Toro was simply, "Okay, now SMOULDER!" He was very subdued at the start, as was Anthony Hopkins throughout. Yes, I know, you were expecting scenery chewing, but Sir Tony really kept his cool. Never raised his heart rate ;-) And I think they were surprisingly clever and insightful as they developed the answers to the "del Toro is Hopkins' son?" question quite admirably.

Of course it's always surprising for a young man to find that his brother was about to marry Queen Victoria; poor Emily Blunt was "the Girl" or more precisely for this film, "the sexual enticement" because that's what The Wolfman is all about. In the usual oversimplification of the past that inevitably happens in films, the Victorian-era sexuality repressed becomes lycanthropy (I love when Blunt pages through the coincidentally handy Big Book of Weird with a serious expression, researching lycanthropy).

Yes, it's another Movie with 1 Woman: this film is all about dangerous masculinity on the loose. Sure Geraldine Chaplin takes over the gypsy crone role made famous by Maria Ouspenskaya with more make-up and less panache, but she's just there to supply facts -- as is the pub owner's wife. No, it's all about the sexual temptation. There's a great scene where del Toro breaks out in sweat just glancing the little bit of skin that peeks out from Blunt's collar.

Unbridled masculinity -- it's a monster!

Think about it -- when the wolfman changes, he gets all hairy and things...grow. He sprouts long hard nails, he loses all reason and gets all violent. It's Super Bowl Sunday all over again.

There's a whole Englishing to the script that's meant to heighten the sense of emotional and sexual repression, but it's so self-conscious and over the top that you practically expect the Inspector to greet the first killing scene with "Here's a howdy-do!" I did laugh out loud when they said his name (yes, I was the only one to do so) but it was a nice link, though they could have done a little more with it. Ditto the silver cane. I loved that they started with the rhyme as a headstone; fun. Loved the London scenes, especially the Wolfman astride the griffin, howling.

That's all I can do in a spoiler-free review; more to say when some of you have seen it, which I do recommend.

13 comments:

The Queen said...

Oh, excellent review - I wasn't overly interested in seeing this movie, but you've changed my mind.

Oh, & it DOES have Benicio del Toro...smouldering....

K. A. Laity said...

Hurrah! I did find it fun. I'd really have enjoyed a long digression into del Toro's Hamlet, but hey, I realise that may not be much of a sell for the rest of the audience.

K. A. Laity said...

Oh and I forgot to mention the moment when the moonlight sparkles and I thought, "Edward?" Hee hee hee!

Todd Mason said...

Shiny, eh? Thanks for the nudge. It would be a wonder to see a film in which Sir Hambone didn't chew everything to shreds, leaving that to someone with an excuse.

Tiresome admin note: Liz Hand has let her domain go...her best link I know is where she blogs with others, but more than they, the Inferior 4+1: http://community.livejournal.com/theinferior4/

K. A. Laity said...

Hey, just saw it again -- still fun. Forgot to mention the obvious things like the overuse of mirrors: of course, any good Victorian woman positions a mirror so someone at the door can see her dressing! but constantly harping on the "dual" nature of people by having them look into mirrors.

And of course, the very proudly erect standing stones -- what could they mean?

Hmmm -- Liz's website was working last I knew; perhaps it's just a temporary snafu. I think I link to the group blog further down. Have to reorganise links.

Todd Mason said...

You do, indeed, have The Inferior 4 listed as such (I think Paul Witcover became the Fifth Wheel...stuck inferiority with youse).

Well, indeed, how else you gonna get your gratuitous neck-flesh shots?

K. A. Laity said...

There's a gratuitous nudie shot, too. Dream/hallucination sequence, but you know -- had to find a way to make it CLEAR .

Liz was surprised to find her website down. It'll be back up soon.

Wendy said...

So, I should go see it, yes? I promise to post a review if and when I do.

K. A. Laity said...

Hurrah! Yes, go and just have fun. It's not Twilight bad; it's not a masterpiece but a lot of fun. And laughs that are satisfying and wacky horror. And yes! Write a review -- I hope you don't hate it! But I think you'll enjoy.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am so glad you liked it. I was all ready to go last Friday and some bad reviews scared me off.

DawninDenver said...

I also enjoyed this movie I thought is just looked beautiful and had all the right elements in the right amounts. I do not like Hopkins so would have enjoyed the movie more with a different actor but oh well! The scene with her dabbing his bleeding lip was HOT!

K. A. Laity said...

I had fun -- that's all I can say. I think if you went to it expecting some kind of Guillermo del Toro kind of dark meditation on humanity, yes -- you would be disappointed. If you expected a lively cheesy reboot of the classic Universal Monsters franchise, I think you were less likely to be disappointed.

K. A. Laity said...

Dawn -- the barely submerged sexuality will thrill Regency and Victorian romance fans. It's all about the simmering under the surface which is why it's sooooo stooopid that they figure they have to have Blunt naked to get the point across. Feh -- never a scalpel when a sledgehammer will do!