Film: The Wolfman (dir. Joe Johnston)
Plot: Upon his return to his ancestral homeland, an American man (Del Toro) is bitten, and subsequently cursed by, a werewolf. (remake of the 1941 classic of the same title)
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving
I've had mixed feelings on 'The Wolfman' production from the start. On one hand there's the stellar cast, Del Toro, Hopkins, Weaving, and Blunt are actors which one should have no concern over. Then there's Rick Baker, one of the few make-up/special effects artists in the business who needs no introduction. Baker is responsible for outstanding visuals in films such as 'The Howling', 'Videodrome', 'American Werewolf in London', and 'King Kong' (1976). He is renowned for his realistic creature effects and his past work speaks for itself.
On the other hand 'The Wolfman' has had a difficult path to the big screen, after last minute director changes (Joe Johnston stepped in weeks into shooting) and a six week re-shoot not to mention constant reports on cast and crew being extremely unhappy, it seemed that the film itself was as cursed as its protagonist.
I have two main problems with the film, the first being the script. The film is so full of cliches that you know exactly where the narrative is going at any time, it is rushed, overly simple, and lacks any kind of depth into the myth of the beast itself. The cast is as impressive as ever, especially Del Toro and Hopkins but they can only make a bad script bearable.
My second problem is my most personal, and here it is. Where is Rick Baker in this film? The film is so full of CGI it is hard to notice any of Baker's work until the last 15minutes. The rumours that the re-shoot was to do with making the werewolf a quadraped instead of a biped seem like facts now that I've seen the film.
The thing is, the film could have gotten away with being an interesting visual film, what we are left with is a giant CGI dog running around in the mist trying to please the 'Transformers 2' audience.
Considering 'The Wolfman' is a film about animal instinct and primal rage there are two separate scenes that involve a Bear in one and a Goat in the other. The two animals are computer animated into the film which of course means they look fake and of course helps the film to look even more glossy as apposed to gritty and realistic.
This is obviously where the film's downfall has come from, the studios were scared that they weren't pandering to the mainstream audiences who lap up all the CGI they can get, they panicked and called for a re-shoot where they desecrated any work that the great Rick Baker had done.
Judging by the troubled history of the film it seems clear now that the creative forces behind 'The Wolfman' didn't have a focussed goal in mind from the start, and so what we are left with is a dithering mess of mainstream tosh.
It pains me to say it but 'The Wolfman' just doesn't have what it needs to be considered a good film. It has its moments but only ends up being mediocre at best...'American Werewolf in London' this is not.