Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review: 'The Wolfman' [C]

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and Joe Johnston’s fatally lifeless and unconvincing monster flick, clouded in a stink of post-production woes and extensive delays, bears the evidence of its turbulent journey to the big screen. Rushed, nonsensical and bland, The Wolfman can’t even muster any old-school nostalgia, for it’s decidedly new-school.

Like the film itself, the beast that Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) morphs into under the light of the full moon is freakishly agile and lightning-quick, almost indecipherable – perhaps in an attempt to smudge up the lackluster visual effects.

The scares are tirelessly jumpy, insincere and computer-generated, with the rare moments that rely on simple make-up effects further serving to enforce the idea into my head that director Joe Johnston and his crew should have had the guts to go old-school with this thing and simply give Benicio Del Toro an un-digitized makeover. (Although as I pointed out the other day, he hardly needs one).

The script by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self waddles around in an easy-to-predict mold of disorderly family mystery and perceived vengeance amidst tragedy, but the latter attempts are miserably mismanaged.

Benicio Del Toro is a fine actor in the right setting (Che, 21 Grams), and even with a comical physical resemblance to a real-life wolfman, the 42 year-old Puerto Rican actor is either miscast, under-written, or disinterested. There’s no internal struggle in the character of Lawrence Talbot, no definable catharsis, and absolutely zero believability or credence to his relationship with the widowed Emily Blunt.

On the whole, it's too serious and too monotonous to work as pure genre entertainment, and yet in this attempt at self-seriousness, the film wilts under its own ineptitude. Perhaps by giving Talbot (Del Toro) a background in Shakespearean theater, the filmmakers were attempting to highlight the tragedy of Lawrence Talbot, but the real tragedy here is in the telling – in that regard, The Wolfman is a downright catastrophe.

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