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DVD Review: The Wolfman

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The Wolfman tells the story of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro), a man who returns to his European homeland from America after hearing of his brother's disappearance. After returning, Lawrence finds that his brother is dead and tales of a strange animal haunt the town. Lawrence, estranged from his eccentric father and filled with horrible memories of his childhood, sets out to discover what happened to his brother, but instead is bitten by the strange creatures and becomes a wolfman himself. Lawrence is then shipped off to an insane asylum, spouting off tales of werewolves and murder, as the strange circumstances surrounding his family begin to be revealed.

When I saw that this movie included Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, I didn't know how you could go wrong. Not only are these gentlemen fabulous actors, but having them together on screen should create some of the most compelling scenes in modern cinema. Well, I quickly found that this assumption was far, far off the mark.

Del Toro seems oddly miscast in his role as Lawrence/The Wolfman, almost as if he doesn't want to be there. Hopkins, on the other hand, seems like he is bored with both his character and the absolutely horrid dialog, so he comes off as sleepwalking through his scenes in the hope that it passes for acting. Emily Blunt also comes across as boring, most likely due to her stoic, one-dimensional character that seems to only exist so she could be "the girl." The only actor who seems to put forth any real effort is Hugo Weaving, who forces life into rather dull, lifeless dialog. I just wish he had more screen time.

Not only is the acting sub-par and the dialog horrid, but the plot is highly predictable, the Wolfman makeup is laughable (rather than scary), and much of the movie is so serious that it's hilarious. Rather than getting jumpy or squeamish at the absurd amount of blood and gore in the film (especially in the unrated version), I found myself laughing at some of the bloodiest and most dramatic moments because they were hard to take seriously.

Aside from the laughs, one of the few redeeming aspects of the movie is the art direction. The movie really does look beautiful and possesses the genuine overtone of eerie horror that would have done most horror movies proud. Other technical aspects were very well done, though they are hard to fully appreciate due to the film's other pitfalls.

The Wolfman DVD includes both the theatrical and unrated versions of the movie and extended scenes and deleted scenes as bonus features, which are always fun little extras. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any cast and/or crew interviews or "making of" features, which tend to be DVD extra staples, but it's not a deal breaker. The Wolfman includes audio in English, French, and Spanish and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

A sadly disappointing film, there was so much potential with The Wolfman, but it suffers from bad screenwriting and poor acting (likely influenced by the screenwriting). It's good for a few laughs in an it's-so-bad-it's-good kind of way, but not much else.

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