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Saturday, February 13, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: "THE WOLFMAN"

    Of all the re-makes of classic horror and sci-fi movies in recent years, there are very few who truly capture the essence and impact that those classic movies possessed. Since I was young, I have been a huge fan of the classic Universal Monster movies of the 1930's and 40's, particularly the original "Dracula" (1931), "Frankenstein" (1931), "The Mummy" (1932) and of course "The Wolf-Man" (1941). For anyone who denies these movies impact on popular culture and film do not realize  where our fascination for monster movies came from. Very rarely has studios sought to remake these classic films and in-turn become successes, such as "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) directed by Francis Ford Coppola and "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994) directed by Kenneth Branagh are among those triumphs. However, the recent "Mummy" franchise from director Stephen Sommers left much to be desired. Now, Universal has resurrected another of their greatest monsters in the tradition of the original films with the release of "The Wolf-Man (2010) directed by Joe Johnston.
    I went to this with high hopes that Universal would renew my faith in my old favorites thus dispelling their failures with "The Mummy" and others. This new incarnation the Wolf-Man delightfully draws directly from their sources in presenting a new adaptation of the Wolf-Man story which references both the original 1941 classic as well as the 1961 British Hammer film "Curse of the Werewolf". Set in 1891 England, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), an American raised Shakespearian actor, returns home at the bequest of his brother Ben's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) who explains Ben's mysterious disappearance and when Lawrence arrives, of Ben's gruesome death at the hands of an unknown creature. Upon returning to his ancestral home he is reunited with his estranged father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins) once an adventurous world-traveling hunter, now a disheveled aging man who appears to be falling apart along with their now crumbling and cob-webbed mansion. As Lawrence tries to discover the truth behind his brother's fate he must face terrible childhood memories long repressed concerning the death of his mother. Soon he himself is attacked and bitten by the creature and is now cursed to roam on a full-moon night searching for victims as a werewolf! When prominent police inspector Abberline (Hugo Weaving) arrives to solve the murders he suspects Talbot to be involved and seeks to capture him and if necessary, destroy him.
    "The Wolf-Man" marks a long-time coming return to the gothic style of the classic era of Universal Monster movies complete with its turn of the century European setting, foggy forests and graveyards, to dark, foreboding mansions and lets not forget one the most terrifying monsters to come out of the Universal pantheon, The Wolf-Man himself, reborn with amazing special make-up effects from the master himself, Rick Baker! For anyone who loved the classic monster movies as I did or wants a truly horrifying experience in true horror, "The Wolf-Man" is an impressive movie, with an amazing cast! This is the best horror film I've seen in a long time and the best remake since the 1990 versions of Universal's Monsters! I'd say it's about time, now if you'll excuse me I have to go bark at the moon...