Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Wolfman - *

Haha. Academy Award winner Benicio Del-Toro stars in the absurdly awful new update of the classic monster movie, The Wolfman. And wow is it bad. Rarely can you tell how awful a film is going to be from the first frame, but The Wolfman achieves it, and it's perhaps the highest achievement of the film. What is the first frame? It's the prologue, etched on a headstone with awfully fake-looking blood pouring over the words, "Even the purest of hearts can be changed by the bite of I'm bored already" to the tune of a soulless, already defeated Danny Elfman score (what the hell happened to that guy?).

The story is absolute nonsense, despite being written by Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, but I'm going to describe it anyway, because it's hilarious. Del-Toro comes to town as an investigator trying to find out what happened to his brother, who was mysteriously and brutally murdered. A wolf man did it, and on the next full moon he gets the bite himself, and even his pure heart is changed by it. The townsfolk start to suspect he is the wolf man, and next full moon he starts noticing some changes and consults dad about it, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who at this point is just shitting all over his name by choosing movies like this. Dad locks him up and tells him that they are both wolfmen, and he leaves to go terrorize the town, so that he can frame Del-Toro, quit the biz and live it up undetected. The next morning Del Toro is found outside in tattered clothes, and is sent to a hospital. The rest is just build-up to the final showdown between the two of them.

It is possible that this screenplay could have been made into a fun midnight movie, if it had been told with a wink to the audience. But instead it is handled with the utmost gravity, as though it is possible to take something like this seriously. There is also a subplot involving the dead brother's fiance that never registers as even mildly interesting.

If you are unfortunate enough to see this film, your viewing experience will invariably devolve into counting how many times the camera pans up to reveal a full moon, or how many close-ups of someone's eye there are when a man is changing into a wolf man, or how many CGI animals there are and why there are so many in a film which legendary effects designer Rick Baker worked on (if you haven't seen Videodrome you should find a dunce cap that fits you). Or you might just wonder how many people are there in this small town in the 19th century that has been ravaged by a wolf man for so many years, killing a dozen people every full moon. As for me, I found myself wondering whether or not a better film could be made about a wolf who is bitten by a man, and how that would affect his status in the wolf community. Would the Manwolf grow opposable thumbs on full moons and try to domesticate them? There's a great film in there somewhere.

Luckily I had a private screening of this film with my brother and a friend and a large pizza, otherwise it would have been a miserable two hours (yes, this drivel is two hours long). We went in thinking it might be any good, but by minute number two we gave each other permission to shout out derisory remarks. Honestly, there is nothing good about this film. Except for the pizza.

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