2010 // UK - USA // Joe Johnston // June 14, 2010 // DVD - Universal (2010) (Unrated Director's Cut)
[Note: This post contains spoilers.]
C- - I have to give screenwriters Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self a point for hewing to the essential elements for an old-fashioned werewolf feature, particularly the now-slightly-subversive notion that the luckless protagonist must perish by the time the credits roll. Unfortunately, the film tips its hand entirely too early with respect to the progenitor lycanthrope, and as a result the whole enterprise runs out of steam long before the clunky, climactic werewolf-on-werewolf brawl. The Victorian-gothic production design is admittedly luscious, even downright bewitching at times, but this only contributes to The Wolfman's disjointed tone. When the titular monster is nowhere to be seen, it's an atmospheric B-movie, stuffed with faux-gravitas and lent a dollop of menace by Anthony Hopkins' glowering, lip-licking presence. When the werewolf attacks, meanwhile, the film veers off into slasher-flick camp, clashing dreadfully with the chilly tone that dominates elsewhere. The film's R rating is utterly unnecessary, other than to provide the beast with license to rend limbs, slash bowels, and devour a victim's liver. The crowning disappointment is that while the film-makers capitalize on the evocative power of the classic Universal feature, they disregard the screamingly obvious role of the werewolf myth as a metaphor for the unrestrained id.