Friday, 12 February 2010

The Wolfman

I saw The Wolfman. Its nothing like those terrible trailers that have been on tv. The studio look ashamed of the film they made in those trailers.

Its loads of fun. really, made for people who watch hammer and old universal movies. Anyone who doesn't like these will not like this. The film is moody and odd like those films, loves its eccentric accents, stupid villagers and people not saying anything while walking through villages/forests/old houses. Basically its shot like a black and white movie with a few colours shown ( red blood and yellow lights. The rest are shadows). Its also a werewolf movie and only that. It doesn't try and be post-modern, witty in a smug way. We're in the old world and they stick to old rules, which may annoy some but is great if you're a little sick of those "clever" modern films. Its guy gets bitten by wolf, guy turns into wolf, wolf kills lots of people, manwolf is killed by his love. That basic romantic gothic story is all it is. a terrific peice of horror hokum. That's not an insult. Its great for that reason.

All the cast are in on the fun. They know what movie they're in. Anthony Hopkins is a riot. Its the most fun he's been in years, being basically an awful man the entire film, who kills his wife, sends a young Del Toro into the looney bin, lusts after the fiancee of, then kills his other son brutally, then he turns into a wolf. (The entire film is all his fault basically. He even looks wolf-like and quotes hamlet in an astonishly OTT bit, Hamlet in a werewolf film. and it works in that b-movie cheeky way). You're kind of amazed he was never in a late era Hammer film. Emily Blunt is basically a lust object whose men keep getting killed, so she looks haunted a lot, which she does well. Its one of those tricky have to be interesting without the back-up of much writing and dialogue. But she does it very well, gets into the older style of acting.

For their wolfman, they know that casting Benecio Del Toro is enough (not since Oliver Reed in Curse Of The Werewolf has a man been so aptly found to be a man who should turn into a wolf). You don't need much dialogue. Give him a candle, let him be tortured, let the cameraman go wild for ten minutes at a time, let him sniff Emily Blunt once in a while. That's enough. Then he turns into a wolf and kills everyone. Basically what I'm saying is roll on Frankenstein Versus The Wolfman remake, which won't happen. This film will not make enough money. Its too old fashioned. Del Toro should be doing these movies mixed with films like Che.

The wolf attacks are great. A wolf attack is very fast and kills most people before they know they are being attacked. Its very brutal. People are slshed, burned, slashed again. Policemen are decapitated, killed and further mocked for being useless. The wolfman attacks a london tram and no-one gets out alive. Everything you could want from a wolfman attack. The CGI is not too obtrustive, has some great sound effects.

The film came out astonishingly well, which is surprising as it lost its director not long before it began shooting. Joe Johnstone (who directed two early gems Honey I Shrunk The Kids and The Rocketeer before falling away) took over and did a great job of it. The film is very confident and focused, knows what its about. Its paced a little too fast in early stages but these are minor defects. It still very much works.