Starring Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins
I'm not sure what Universal was going for with The Wolfman, but my intuition tells me this isn't it. The film should be a ready-made hit: The studio that made movie monsters household names is opening the crypt again after 70 years, but The Wolfman is a depressingly bad movie. Is it worth wondering how it went so wrong? Maybe it isn't worth your time or mine, but it should be worth someone's, because a project like this shouldn't resemble a project like this. The history of The Wolfman has been written about over and over again: It changed directors, release dates (twice), visual effects, editors, and musical scores, which it later changed back to the original work by Danny Elfman. But everything you need to make a modern Wolfman already exists. It comes from good stock, the story is known to millions, and it had support in all the right places. How on Earth did it wind up as, well, a wounded animal? Without going into the plot - which needs no introduction - it should be pointed out that very little beyond the printed page seems to work. Benicio Del Toro is almost shockingly miscast, Emily Blunt seems far too informal for the Victorian Era (strange given how well she portrayed the queen for which that half-century is named), and Anthony Hopkins is barely attentive past the point of seeing if his name is spelled correctly on the check. There are two positives for the ensemble, however. The first is the all-too-brief presence of Hugo Weaving, playing a Scotland Yard detective pursuing leads in the case of mysterious countryside maulings that he believes have a less-than-supernatural explanation. He's quite good, but by comparison, so is silence and inaction. The second plus is that you might not notice how bad the principal performers are if you pay attention to anything else. Director Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park 3) does as little as possible to create a visual world we can believe. This film is set at roughly the same time as Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, and even though there are very contemporary flourishes in that film, it is far more believable in terms of production design, costuming, and cinematography. This film looks like a parade of soundstages, indiscriminantly lit, purposelessly dressed, and unimaginatively photographed. It has all the authenticity of an Olan Mills photo backdrop.