Movie News & Reviews

It looks good, but 'The Wolfman' lacks bite

Sorry this one's coming at you a day late, dear audience.

I spent thewhole weekend geeking it up at RadCon, and even for a scintillatinglocal superstar such as myself, it can take a while to find someone topaint your '91 Tempo up like the Batmobile.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Because if my ride looked good, then the eyes of those girls in the corsetswould pop. And not just because their chests were being squeezed sohard their brains had to make room for their incoming lungs. They'd beso busy swooning over the jet black paper towel roll-rocket tubes tonotice the locks don't work, or that my trunk is crusted over with apetrified milkshake splashed there by a helpful dickface, or that thereason I'm doing a rolling leap from the driver's seat is that my onlybrakes are the nearest tree trunk.

But there's more to life than looking good blah blah blah. You know, Iwon't totally rag on making something beautiful. That takes skill andeffort. I'll give The Wolfman credit for looking prettyspecial. It's the rest of it I'm less than impressed by.

Following the brutal death of his brother — the wounds suggest a savagebeast or a madman — Benicio Del Toro returns home to England and thedusty manor of patriarch Anthony Hopkins.

There, Emily Blunt, his brother's fiancee, asks Del Toro to find outwhat happened. While investigating suspicious gypsies, the camp isravaged by a terrible wolf monster. Del Toro is bitten. Soon, he toowill become a werewolf, driven mad each time the full moon shows itsface.

In this time of paranormal mania for sexy vampires, sexierhalf-vampires with werewolf boyfriends, and vampire-hunting Keeblerelves and the rainbow-barfing unicorn-centaurs who love them, athrowback about a simple case of lycanthropy feels downrightrefreshing. Well-framed and lighted by director Joe Johnston, TheWolfman harkens back to a simpler time of misty fens, cobwebbedestates and easily-riled mobs waving torches and pitchforks.

Mostly because it has all these things. And stubbornly refusesto do anything with them.

Whatever I might think about the paranormal explosion, hey, at leastthey're out there trying new things. Even if all they're doing iscrushing an old thing over the hoary head of a second old thing sothat second-old-thing gets mad about having first-old-thing gunking upits hair, at least both those old things are showing us a new face.Think about it.

The Wolfman doesn't. It is content to pretend no one's everfilmed a superstitious preacher before. After a while, you start towonder why they wanted to remake this in the first place.

The main reason probably rhymes with "millions of mollars." And itdoes have a few things going for it. Hopkins' performance as agrief-deadened father is pretty snazzy. As are the visceraltransformations and spattery dismemberment. The drama's appropriatelygothic, too.

But boring cliches are boring. And instead of building tension throughdread, The Wolfman relies on the "SUDDEN LOUD NOISES!!" schoolof lazy scares. When you're not terrified of being devoured rightthere in the theater, it gives you a lot of time to chew over anynonsense a movie has tossed your way, such as why Del Toro can onlybe saved by someone who loves him when the plot clearly suggests hecould have been saved even harder by someone who hates hisbloodthirsty guts.

That — and some babble about defining the linebetween man and beast — is as deep as The Wolfman ever gets.

Grade: C