Movies: The Wolfman * *
(16, General Release)
Apparently, Benicio del Toro, who was the driving force behind this modern remake, is a huge fan of the Lon Chaney Jr werewolf films of the 1940s.
As well as starring, he co-produced, and was insistent that the look and feel of the film reflected the style of the 1941 original, Wolf Man, even down to the distinctive monster make-up. And perhaps it's this slavish devotion to detail that renders The Wolfman curiously stiff and lifeless, though one suspects a change of directors and a drastic post-production short-back-and-sides may not have helped much either.
Del Toro, in any case, is Lawrence Talbot, who returns to the grand English country pile where he was born to investigate the disappearance of his brother. It's the 1880s and this is Hollywood England, with tumbledown mansions, perma-fog and superstitious villagers who form a lynch mob at the drop of a hat.
Lawrence has lived away for many years following a childhood trauma involving his late mother, and when he begins inquiring after his brother's whereabouts he hears dark mutterings of monsters who walk by at night.
His eccentric father (an impeccably unkempt Anthony Hopkins) is less than helpful, but Lawrence forms a strong bond with his brother's grieving fiancée, Gwen. Just as they're getting cosy, however, a full moon rises, and Lawrence discovers all manner of unpleasant things about himself and his family.
All of this is entertaining enough in a hokey sort of a way. But it's also pretty joyless and -- fatally -- way too short on jokes for this type of caper. Also, Benicio del Toro looks half-wolf to begin with: sticking the paws and hair on him seems a tad redundant.