Mid October seems like the perfect time for a werewolf film. The Wolfman is a recent big budget remake of a classic that is long overdue for a festival showing. This version stays relatively faithful to the original until it doesn’t. That said, it’s a nice attempt to retell the story of Lawrence Talbot in a manner that audiences under 60 might appreciate. Don’t worry, this version of The Wolfman is not in black and white. It’s in a muted color format that works really well at recreating the look of the Universal version but still providing full color. Although the Hammer films look great, I always had to wonder where the local tailors found such a wide variety of patterns and colors of fabric.
The Wolfman actually credits Curt Siomak, the screen writer of the original version as the source for the film. They even start the movie with Curt’s classic “Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright”. Like the original, Lawrence Talbot returns home, meets a girl, encounters gypsies, gets bitten by a “wolf” and becomes a werewolf. That part is quite well done. The action and transformation scenes far surpass the original.
After that the role of Lord Talbot becomes more significant in this version. Claude Reins played the original wolf dad and he played it like a concerned aristocratic father. Anthony Hopkins gets the role here and he plays the role like Anthony Hopkins. He acts like a nut job for most of the story. The Lord Talbot role is bigger this time around and provides a lead in to a really good werewolf vs. werewolf throw down. After that the villagers show up in time for a quick finish in typical Universal style.
The Wolfman is a very good attempt to rework a great film. The film makers get straight A’s on all of the technical aspects and the action sequences are top notch. The werewolves look great. Talbot manor is impressively old and spooky looking. I’ll admit I wasn’t crazy about the changes to Lord Talbot but that’s minor. My big complaint with The Wolfman is lead actor Benicio Del Toro. Unbelievably, he has far less charisma than Lon Chaney Jr., an actor famous for being uncharismatic. Del Toro has the same blank expression from start to finish. At least Jr. knew how to smile.