Sunday, February 21, 2010

Not-A-Sci-Fi Sunday: The Wolfman

'Kay, so... The Wolfman is not a sci-fi movie but for once I actually saw a film within a short time of it coming out and I feel the need to share. Also my DVD player is possessed, but more on that at a later date.

The movie begins with a man walking through a dark fog-laden forest, freaking out at every noise, gun in hand. Something is after him and DUN DUN DUN he gets ripped apart by a big bad monster. It's probably the most tension you'll feel throughout the movie, with some nice pacing and good music cues. Expectations are raised. You think, hey, maybe this'll be pretty good after all. Depending on how high your expectations are, you might be right. But probably not.

We discover that the walking in the fog man was Ben Talbot, and his widow Gwen (Emily Blunt) writes a letter to his estranged brother/Shakespearean actor Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro) beginning him to come back and help them find him, because at this stage he's merely missing to the good people of Small English Town. 

When Lawrence arrives, he's greeted by the corpse of his dead brother, as well as some small-town politics ("It's the gypsies!"). Lawrence decides to go investigate and visits the gypsy camp just as the angry townspeople arrive to chase the gypsies out of town, bringing with them a nice big full moon. Cue wolfie.
Big beasty circles the camp, taking out villagers one by one before just going nuts, and ripping everything/everyone to shreds. The best moment occurs when after hearing noises coming from a gypsy van, one of the men goes over, all casual-like, to have two wolf claws shoved into the underside of his jaw, with the fingers/claws coming out through his mouth, before he's pulled into the van and cut into tiny pieces. It ellicted an 'ooh' response just for the imaginative use of claws alone.
Lawrence gets chased by wolfie who then bites him but is scared off by Men With Guns. He's taken to the gypsy healer who sews him back up (in real nice detail), while the gypsies argue that she should just let him die. She doesn't, obviously.

This is around about the point where my attention started to wander. The slaughtering scenes are quite entertaining to watch but all the storyline in between is just a bit hollow. There's some great villiany from Talbot Snr (Hannibal Lector Anthony Hopkins), and the awesome Inspector Aberline (Agent Smith Hugo Weaving), who was the highlight, for me, although my mind kept making Matrix references where del Toro was Neo and that was quite distracting. You never really care about the characters' plights though, because well, you just don't. You've got some excellent actors and great scenery, sets and costumes but there's no real emersion in the movie at all. And so when the big dramatic climax arrives, you find yourself wishing they create as much carnage as possible so you can see some more disembowlings.

I saw The Wolfman with two friends - all of us female, between the ages of 17 and 23 - and I'm not sure what it is other than the possibility that we're a bit sick, but... we didn't find it scary, just kinda funny.
And we might have just maybe laughed through a lot of the not-at-all funny moments, such as the attack on the gypsy camp, the human to wolf transformations, the Wolfman vs Wolfman end battle which looks a bit more like wookie vs wookie and that weird wolfboy who looked a hell of a lot like Gollum.
There are a few jump scares that caught out a couple of audience members, but a lot of them are so predictable you can spot them from a mile away. And when the evil doctor-man says that Lawrence turning into a werewolf is as likely as him sprouting wings and flying out the window, you better believe he gets thrown out the window once Lawrence turns.
And then impaled on a fence!

All that said and done, I really enjoyed The Wolfman - just for all the wrong reasons. It was entertaining and funny and the music was pretty good, but the best part about it had to be the sets, scenery and costumes. There's so many great foggy woodland areas and the dilapidated mansion and mausoleum are so well done, that's it's almost worth watching the movie to see those things alone.
A classic, this movie is not, but it's worth renting the DVD or going to the movies if you've got some time to kill to see it, and confirm if my friends and I should go see a therapist or something.

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