A reasonably engaging take on the classic tale from director Joe Johnston ("Jurassic Park III") and writers David Self ("Thirteen Days") and Andrew Kevin Walker ("Sleepy Hollow"), "The Wolfman" stars Benicio Del Toro ("The Usual Suspects") as Lawrence Talbot, a man who returns home after word of his brother's mysterious disappearance.
While performing Shakespeare on the stage in London, Lawrence is contacted by his father, the rather mysterious Sir John (Anthony Hopkins). While on the hunt for the cause of his brother's disappearance, he gets fiercely attacked by a werewolf and bitten.
While Lawrence searches for a solution with the assistance of his brother's former fiancee (Emily Blunt, of "The Devil Wears Prada"), Gwen. Meanwhile, an inspector from Scotland Yard (Hugo Weaving, "The Matrix") descends upon the area searching for the culprit. The locals are also none too pleased with recent events, as well.
The picture certainly has all the bases (well, nearly all the bases) covered when it comes to visuals. The picture's period feel is superbly constructed and technical credits - cinematography, production design, costume work, make-up (Rick Baker, no less) and more are all first-rate. Legendary editor Walter Murch also is credited as editor, along with Dennis Virkler.
The only element that falls a little short are some of the visual effects. While most of the visual effects are just fine, a few are iffy enough to be a tad distracting. The screenplay is also a little bumpy, as while some of the dialogue feels a little clunky or old-fashioned campy, the movie goes for a darker, more serious tone. The wobbly tone may be an issue that comes from some of the film's reported production issues, which included a change in directors. The subplot regarding the romance between the Del Toro and Blunt characters is also somewhat subpar, as the romance is never developed much.
The performances are fine, with Del Toro delivering an effort that isn't the actor's best performance but works for the role. Blunt's character isn't terribly developed, but the actress is enjoyable in the role. Hopkins has been better elsewhere, but has fun tearing into the role. Weaving is solid in a supporting role, as well.
Overall, "The Wolfman" is certainly not going to compare to the classic, but on its own terms, the picture is a modestly entertaining horror flick for a Summer afternoon.
The unrated version included here adds about 16 minutes.
VIDEO: "The Wolfman" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 (1080p) and the transfer is a consistent delight, with sharpness and detail that held up nicely during much of the film. While some of the movie's dimly-lit scenes lose a bit of detail, but this may be intentional. Many of the film's dimly-lit scenes (and, given the material, there's understandably quite a few) are handled well and come across crisply and clearly.
The print used appeared pristine, with no specks, marks or other details. A few minor instances of edge enhancement were spotted, but the picture otherwise looked clean and rock-solid. Colors (again, understandably, as it's not "Shiny Happy Wolfman") look low-key, but appeared accurately presented.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 presentation is marvelously moody and dynamic, with effective use of the surround speakers for effects and ambience. The sound mix is superbly done, enveloping the viewer in all manner of creepy details, which often smoothly move from speaker-to-speaker. Audio quality is impressive, with clear, well-recorded dialogue and moments of thrilling deep bass.
EXTRAS: The biggest extra included here is the original "Wolf Man" film starring Lon Chaney, but it's only offered for those who have BD-Live capability. Deleted and extended scenes, alternate endings, "The Return of the Wolfman" (which runs a little over 10 minutes and provides an overview of the new film's approach to the tale, as well as story and character issues. "The Beast Maker" takes a look at the work of legendary make-up artist Rick Baker. "Transformation Secrets" is an in-depth look into the visual effects work, while "Wolfman Unleashed" provides an overview of the stunt work. Finally, we also get two "U-Control" features: "Legacy, Legend and Lore" and "Take Control" - the latter, a picture-in-picture feature with comments from crew members - is particularly interesting. A digital copy is included and the title is D-Box enabled.
I'm surprised they didn't do a "Wolfman" Gilette ad.
Final Thoughts: This "Wolfman" is certainly not going to compare to the classic, but on its own terms, the picture is a modestly entertaining horror flick for a Summer afternoon. The Blu-Ray offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a decent selection of supplements.
The Film B-