You can tell a film is utter garbage when you spend the majority of it thinking of awful puns to use after. Wolfman is such a film. From about ten minutes in, the movie drags so painfully that I became obsessed with substituting any relate-able word, coupling it with a swear or two and hoping nobody would catch on that this is how I spend the majority of my life.
‘Wolfman is a howler’, ‘Luna-ticks all the wrong boxes’, ‘Wolfman is a steaming pile of dogshit’ and many other terrible, terrible combinations of moon, wolf- and dog-related punnery that would make my High School English teacher shit himself with embarrassment.
But what makes Wolfman even worse is that it’s such a waste of the talent on display.
You know this one – Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns from America to help look for his brother that disappeared. He turns up dead, eaten by ‘something’. The village folk reckon it’s a monster. Nobody believes them. Monster appears. Turns out it’s one of the main cast members. Stuff happens. Resolution.
It’s not just the by-the-numbers nature of Wolfman that makes it so gash. After all Avatar is pretty by-the-numbers and not many people are putting the boot into that. But Wolfman has so little going for it, it’s an early contender for worst blockbuster of the year. Fairly unsurprising, considering it’s turbulent production with original director Mark Romanek being replaced by Joe Johnston mere days before the camera rolls.
What is surprising is the lack of effort by everyone else involved. For Benicio it was supposed to be a labour of love having grown up revering the beast, instead his performance is so unimpressive you might wonder if he fell asleep in the make-up chair. Emily Blunt’s potential far outways her role. Only Sir Tony seems to be having a bit of fun with the material but he’s never let loose enough to really try and shake things up. Apparently playing a harmonica is a quirky enough character trait for him to appear ‘kooky’.
The film has that Van Helsing gloss to it preventing it ever feeling like a grown-up movie, despite it’s 15 certificate. Lashings of blood and guts are strewn about in an attempt at old-school gore but ends up new-school bore. Why they didn’t try for a 12A and market it for kids seems strange considering the lack of respect for the audiences intelligence. At one point Detective Aberline (Hugo Weaving) actually delivers the one-liner, “You don’t have any silver bullets by any chance?”, with the not so much tongue-in-cheek as tongue surgically inserted into his arse.
That the script was ‘written’ by Andrew Kevin Walker, of Se7en fame, and David Self, who wrote the deeply impressive Cold War movie Thirteen Days, is almost incomprehensible. Even the effects are ropey. The transformations themselves may be as impressive as An American Werewolf in London (it’s predecessor be almost 30 years) but once fully feral the end result is closer to Teen Wolf.
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When Owen Nicholls is not hacking to death the English language with the ferocity of a mongoose he edits www.thisfilmison.com