The new “Wolfman” nibbles at the classic

Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, "The Wolfman" brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins.


In 1941, Lon Chaney Jr. starred in a classic horror movie for Universal Studios – the studio that was famous for its monster movies. “The Wolf Man” was an instant classic about a man named Larry Talbot who came home to his father’s castle in Wales upon hearing his brother has died. While there, he is attacked by a werewolf, but lives and so becomes one himself. Grappling with the new beast within and his guilty conscience over killing innocent people, he spends several nights debating his actions until he is caught by his father and killed by a blow from his own silver cane, silver being a werewolf’s only weakness.
The new version starring Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot and Anthony Hopkins as his father is a pretty close adaptation. There are some differences to be sure, but it is a good film nonetheless. This time around, the Wolfman terrorizes London in addition to the rural countryside townsfolk and wandering gypsies.
It seemed like the film fell prey to the “television gone movie” curse. When a TV show is made into a film, the history of the characters has been well established. Many times the emphasis is on the new effects when moving from the small screen to big. Even though “The Wolf Man” was never a TV show it still fell into that trap. In the 1941 film, the guilt of dealing with what he had become was evident in Chaney’s portrayal. That inner struggle between the two sides of the tortured man was not felt through Del Toro’s characterization. The audience must enter the theatre with the knowledge of who Talbot is; there’s no time for character development because the plot moves so fast and there is so much action that takes place from rural Wales to London. It’s not a bad movie, it just felt rushed and if you didn’t come in knowing the characters you got very little from the story and even less by the actors.
I am a huge fan of the original – it’s my favorite monster movie and monster movies are my favorite kind of movie so maybe that taints my view of this film.  But even though it was different, it was still a fun ride. Rated R for intense gore. Like really gory. No, really really gory. Some of the scenes are rather scary as well, even the ones without gore. Directed by Joe Johnston. I give this movie a 4 out of 5. It really is worth a try.