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The Wolfman

Digital Three Stars
There’s a lot of history with The Wolfman, and I don’t just mean that it was a remake from the much older film, I mean the history of production of the film, or should I say the post-production. For the stories were rife of the re-shoots and the problems with the film once it had been made However one of the big surprises for me was actually how good the film worked and that you wouldn’t have realised the hassled production that it seemed to go through.

In fact if you never knew of it you wouldn’t even have spotted there was anything amiss, even knowing I didn’t spot where the re-shoots would have been, or where the alleged problems would have been resolved.

So I think it's only fair to put all that talk to the side for the review of the film. If it were obvious then it would be fair to discuss, but it's not. So let me look at the film put in front of me.

Plot.pngThe story sees Lawrence Talbot return from his time touring with theatre companies to his childhood home and the brother and father that he left a long time ago. Ban Talbot has gone missing and his fiancée asks his brother to return and help in the search. They soon discover that Ben has been murdered in the woods around the home by what local folklore would have us believe is a beast.

The beast has been terrorising the locals come every full moon for some time now, reminding them of a time in the past when the same thing happened and then mysteriously just stopped.

A close encounter with the beast leaves Lawrence bitten but alive, an act that turns him into a beast who changes each full moon and turns on the hunt. However there's a more terrifying secret in the family that he has yet to discover.

TheFilm.pngTheWolfman.jpgFirst thing that's more than noticeable is the excellent look to the film, there are some fantastic shots, filled with dark and moody lighting and stylish cinematography. The outdoor shots especially look great, the dark moonlit forest very atmospheric and moody with similarly haunting indoor shots which carry a great dark and gothic feel.

Yes, The Wolfman does look really good, and a lot of the atmosphere comes from the locations of the forest.

The actors look good too. Benecio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt all look their respective parts and their portrayals benefit from that strong lighting and cinematography. Hopkins looks particularly menacing and brooding, whereas Del Toro manages to appear much more open and less villainous than he often does.

Performance wise Del Toro does require a mention, and not just for the fact that he manages to maintain an understandable and strong English accent throughout. Seriously, and I don't mean this offensively, but it's really hard to understand his characters sometimes, and while that's often down to the way they are written, it does make you wonder what his range is. In Wolfman he proves he has a huge range, for when he first spoke and his English accent came out, I was pretty astounded, for it's really convincing.

Talking of winning English accents though, I'd deliver mine to Hugo Weaving. All too often I hear his voice in all manner of films and think of nothing else but his Agent Smith voice, and an impersonation pops straight into mind. However in The Wolfman one thing is clear, his accent is almost spot on, and a few slips here and there are hard to pick up on and he delivers a strong performance as the policeman investigating the case.

Hopkins delivers the worse performance for me though, something I've picked up on in films before is that he just seems to deliver his lines as though he was hurriedly reading them straight from the script line after line. Although I enjoyed the look of his character on screen and the fact that later in the film the evil and malice of his character begins to come to the fore more and more, his delivery of the lines just seemed to be done without any real emotional conviction.

Del Toro and Blunt both give strong performances, Del Toro especially, and during those transformation scenes you can almost feel his pain.

Talking of which, and that brings us back again to the effects, of the film, the transformations are superb. I have to say that I was somewhat sceptical. I knew that technology advances from An American Werewolf in London would mean that they could technically produce something that showed more of the transformation, but could they make it look and feel as real and as painful?

The answer is simply yes. The transformation does take many clues from An American Werewolf in London, and I think that's the best thing they could have done. They've taken it and built on it and made the transformation sequences even better but retaining the unique way it connects with the audience and makes them feel the pain rather than marvel at the effects.

I also enjoyed the big transformation scene, even if it is part of the plot that I felt mirrored the King Kong storyline a little too much – capture the monster, take him somewhere on public(ish) show and treat him like a sideshow. He gets angry, breaks free and kills his captors before rampaging through the city and climbing atop a large iconic building to scream high above the city.

Thankfully that's where the references ends, and although I felt it stood out like a sore thumb, it wasn't that annoying to watch, and while the reference stood it didn't annoy.

Perhaps effects wise the biggest challenge was the ultimate Wolfman battle scene. It certainly was tough to pull off, but I think they did well and the creature effects hold up through the demanding sequences. However saying that the filming style didn't work so well for following the action and I did feel myself a little lost at who was doing what and where, but then that's a far too typical trait of Hollywood films.

Story wise, The Wolfman does well, I actually enjoyed how it all played out, the explanation of the origin of the creature, and the nice touches such as the story with Art Malik's character Singh.

It does race through the early sections of the story though, trying to quickly set the stage for the rest of the film and the characters. Also the thread where we see Gwen Conliffe falling for Lawrence Talbot so quickly after her fiancée, Lawrence's brother, has been killed seems a little rushed, although it's well handled once the emotional connections are there.

Picture.pngiTouch Widescreen
The picture is surprisingly good considering the film is so dark for most of its running time. There seems to have been work done to ensure that the digital copy is viewable in decent light conditions. My real problem with the picture was the fact that with the picture so dark the iTouch's highly reflective screen meant I was almost always looking at yself and had to sit in a darker room to ensure that I wasn't.

Audio.pngiTouch Stereo
The sound is surprisingly good for being straight stereo and there is a feeling of movement with the sound as well as a decent depth and bass to it, and again you get the feeling that the track has been mastered for the stereo device.

Overall.pngPut aside the concerns about a film going through a troubled production, so often that can be over-hyped media desperately looking for a story, especially when so many films have re-shoots factored in as part of their scheduled shoots from the beginning. I don't believe that's what happened here though, and if you look back through the stories you'll see that there's much more to it.

However what you do notice is that the film does really regardless. It's not superb, but it is an entertaining gothic thriller that looks really good and carries a strong cast. It's well worth a viewing.

Buy from The Wolfman on iTunesiTunes
UK IMDB Film Details



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