Sunday, February 14, 2010

Emily Blunt Loves The Wolf

The Wolfman

What makes "The Wolfman" work at the level it does is the romance between Lawrence (Benicio Del Toro) and Gwen (Emily Blunt), and the most thanks to this satisfactory romance can be given to Emily Blunt. Here's an actress I never really appreciated before, but now I can say I fully do. No, it isn't necessarily her performance in this movie that makes me admire her, but rather, the aptitude of her performance within even stuff like this. She gives the movie the heart and life it needs and makes you believe that a woman can fall in love with a man-turned-wolf.

Director Joe Johnston does not update the original story to a contemporary setting, but instead embraces the 1891 gloomy, dark, Gothic horror Victorian setting with the decaying mansion, the flickering candles casting ominous shadows, the rainy streets, the overcast skies, and, of course, the shine from the full moon. And amidst all of this eeriness is a murder, and not just an ordinary murder. It has the savagery of a beast or the makings of a mad lunatic, but we all know the culprit. The man's name was Ben, and his fiancée, Gwen, writes a letter to Ben's brother, Lawrence, an American stage actor who is temporarily performing in London. She wishes for him to follow up on Ben's murder. Their father is a strange, graying man living in solitude inside the aforementioned decaying mansion, and his name is Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins). As the previously estranged Lawrence makes his first appearance, Talbot emerges from the shadows much like everything else in the movie.

And from here, especially when Lawrence himself falls to the sad fate of becoming a werewolf, the movie takes an abrupt turn from subtlety to near madness. There's running through the woods, the streets of London and into the halls of an insane asylum, and they're all very nice to look at in their own ways. The movie is well-shot with rather noteworthy art direction capturing the feel of the period eloquently. The movie works best as a period piece, actually, which could be one of its drawbacks. When the action picks up and things start getting violent, it almost becomes unintentionally campy, especially when the tone set before was so serious and embedded in realism. The gore is a bit gratuitous as I could've done without the multiple decapitations and slew of bloody intestines. Things get a little carried away, to say the least.

Anthony Hopkins is effective in his morally ambiguous role; that is until an overwrought werewolf showdown that comes off like an orgy of fur, blood, flames, growling, snarling and gnashing teeth. The werewolves themselves are actually quite laughably rendered, which really takes away the scare factor throughout the movie. They just look too fake-looking at some points, especially when Lawrence in his werewolf form runs across the rooftops. When in human form, however, Del Toro does a fine job of giving us a man tormented by his horrifying condition.

Hokey though "The Wolfman" may be, with a heart in the right place at its center, and with the lovely Emily Blunt looking into the eyes of Lawrence, even in his werewolf state, like she does, you may just find yourself feeling something there. That's when I knew the movie's small success had crept up on me.

1 comment:

  1. i was curious about this movie. thinki may check it out.