25 February 2010
At the movies: The Wolf Man.
Visually stunning and completely overwrought, Joe Johnston's take on the classic tale of lycanthropy and the animal nature of man gets slightly more right than it does wrong, and that makes for a mildly entertaining film. Watching it, though, you can't help but think how much better it could have been.
Benicio del Toro, as the troubled Larry Talbot, keeps things internal and close to his chest, which is an odd choice for a movie where swarthy guys turn into wolves. More successful is Anthony Hopkins, who positively cackles his way through the proceedings with an appropriately jaded and bloodthirsty brio. But I must confess my annoyance with a film that would cast Geraldine Chaplin as a Gypsy fortuneteller and then give her two minutes of screentime.
The effects are exceptional for the most part, though the computer generated imagery works much better in crafting foggy atmosphere and murky Britishry than it does for the big transformation scenes. A little humor and some more for the delightfully moody Hugo Weaving to do would have improved things exponentially, but as it is, The Wolf Man is a bloody buffet for those who enjoy their bloodlettings in as classy a fashion as possible.
It's an ephemeral experience, and what endures is a testament to exceptional production design and mood.