It’s Pronounced “Wolf-Min”

note: Last week was a classic case of a critic disagreeing with the masses.  I panned From Travolta With Lust, but the four people who read this blog have spoken.  Charlie Wax is officially part of our cultural lexicon.

We’ve got our first Subway Movies “good movie” review.  The Wolfman was solid.  It wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was pretty darn watchable.  I never found myself frustrated or confused, so that was a definite step up from the other movies I’ve reviewed.  And the acting.  Oh, the acting!  Del Toro, Hopkins, and ….wait for it…..Hugo Weaving!  Mama mia, thats a spicy meat-a-ball!

Del Toro actually looked pretty out of place for the first 30 minutes or so.  He plays a Shakespearean actor summoned home to his family’s rural estate to investigate his brother’s murder by a mysterious beast.  Del Toro as a subdued, dignified gentlemen just didn’t seem right.  He struggled with it.  But then he’s bitten by a werewolf and starts to lose his mind.  Tragic and tortured?  That he can most definitely do.  His performance picks up markedly as soon as disaster strikes.

Hopkins plays Del Toro’s father, the patriarch of the family estate.  He gives you exactly what he always gives you: superb acting with a dash of ridiculous.  One minute he’s delivering one of the finest soliloquoys you’ve ever heard, the next he’s in a field whispering his son’s name with a perverted smile on his face.  With Hopkins, anything goes.  He can get away with stuff that would get a lesser actor laughed out of the business. 

I expected good performances from Hopkins and Del Toro, but it was the pleasant surprises that really made this movie for me.  When a horse-drawn coach pulled into the town square and Weaving’s characteristic smug visage emerged, I was officially on board.  I’ve never seen a Weaving performance I didn’t like, and this was no exception.  He was perfectly suited to his role as the Scotland Yard investigator sent to look into the strange doings out in the country.  There’s a scene in the local tavern where he really gets to put his skills on display.  His banter with the waitress was music to mine ears, and there’s a classic line in there ta-boot.  Muchos respectos to whoever can call out what it is (is anyone going to see this movie?).

The other pleasant surprise was Emily Blunt, who plays Del Toro’s sister-in-law (dead brother’s widow).  I loved her look, and she actually made me care about her character.  It was well done.  Cut of jib? Liked.  I’ll be keeping an eye on Blunt’s future roles for sure.  I’m already a fan of James Blunt, so this will be easy to remember. 

The story was nothing special, but it basically made sense.  Given what I’ve seen recently, I’ll take that.  I’m perfectly willing to accept an average story if its packaged properly, and the packaging here is top-notch.  Is there a more consistently cool aesthetic than victorian England?  The Wolfman features great sets of both the urban and rural variety.  The largely deserted candle-lit mansion is perfect, as is pretty much everything about the attached gloomy hamlet, Blackmoor.  Great name, right?  The London insane asylum where Del Toro is briefly imprisoned is another home run.

I’m starting to sound a bit fanboyish here, but I really liked The Wolfman.  I thought it would top out at slightly above average, and it went a little beyond that, despite a few hiccups near the end*.  I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, to tell you the truth.  Like, if I could sneak in or movies were half as expensive or something.

*SPOILER ALERT!!!! here are the hiccups in question:

  • Hiccup 1: Several scenes are devoted to Blunt’s widow character trying to figure out how to cure this werewolf disease, known as “Lycanthropy”.  She consults a gypsy, reads books, prays, the whole nine yards.  It’s practically a montage.  Then at the end she gets her chance and…..she hasn’t figured anything out.  Really anticlimactic.  I loved her character, and I suppose the ending was appropriately tragic, but those few scenes felt like a waste.  This is nitpicking.
  • Hiccup 2: Hopkins’ werewolf version looked stupid and cartoony.

next week: Shutter Island.  Legitimately excited about this one.  Dennis Lahane book made into a movie?  Yes please.  With Gone Baby Gone and Mystic river, good precedents have been set.

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2 Comments

Filed under Decent Movies

2 responses to “It’s Pronounced “Wolf-Min”

  1. Beans

    I was pretty excited to hear your thoughts on “The Wolfman”, because I had heard some conflicting reports. The naysayers I had discussed this with said they had trouble with “believability” of the movie. I was going to ask what they expected when they bought a ticket to a movie entitled “The Wolfman”, but that was a losing battle I didn’t want to fight.

    “Shutter Island” coming up this week? Looking forward to it. I got my Scorsese nerd on and caught this one on opening night. I was very impressed, but I’ll be interested in seeing what the Stonay Film Critic thinks.

  2. i remember when i went to see Wolf, lo those many years ago.

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