out of Five
Running time: 100
Enjoyable, beautifully shot and surprisingly gory creature feature, with terrific performances from Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt.
What's it all about?
A remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. classic, The Wolfman is directed by Joe Johnston and stars Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, an English nobleman by birth who left home after witnessing his mother's violent death as a child. Years later, Lawrence receives a letter from his brother's fiancee, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), begging him for his help in finding his missing brother.
Lawrence duly returns to his ancestral home and is reunited with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), only to find that he's too late and that his brother's body has been found, mutilated beyond recognition. Vowing to destroy the creature that killed his brother, Lawrence joins the villagers as they search for the beast but events take a violent turn when he's attacked and bitten by a werewolf.
Benicio Del Toro is perfectly cast as Talbot, delivering a haunted performance that is genuinely engaging – he even looks like Lon Chaney Jr. in some scenes. Emily Blunt works wonders with a largely underwritten role, bringing a warmth and tenderness to Gwen that works well; she also has intriguing chemistry with Del Toro.
The film is beautifully shot, with atmospheric photography by Shelly Johnson, who makes strong use of fog-swept moors and creepy forests. The werewolf effects are genuinely striking (they're clearly modelled on the 1941 Wolfman rather than, say, An American Werewolf in London) and there are also several good shocks and a surprising amount of gore.
That said, Anthony Hopkins' accent is all over the place (it's Welsh in some places, Irish in others) and he somehow manages to ham it up while simultaneously underplaying it. Similarly, though the character designs are excellent, the production seems to have skimped on the actual transformation effects, which feels like a bit of a cheat.
The Wolfman is an entertaining and surprisingly bloodthirsty creature feature with a superb performance from Del Toro, though it's also underwritten and the effects seem rushed in places.