THE WOLFMAN:

A common thread shared by the “monsters” from Universal’s horror classics of the ‘30s and ‘40s (DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE INVISIBLE MAN, et. al.) is that they were cursed and misunderstood or the result of man’s foolish attempt to play God. Since the gypsy admonition from the original 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. (OF MICE AND MEN) film opens this remake, one gets the idea that the screenplay by David Self and Andrew Kevin Walker is going to stay true to the spirit of the very underrated original work. But soon enough, the narrative mistakes graphic carnage in the form of beheadings, disembowelings and mutilations for genuine scares producing what looks like a “copycat” version of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981). This isn’t much of a stretch since the transformation sequences, crucial to any werewolf flick, are done by Rick Baker, who seems to be “ripping off” his own efforts from that John Landis movie. The “creature” itself just looks like a guy in a gorilla suit that’s seen much better days. As the title character, Benicio Del Toro (TRAFFIC) is woefully miscast as a British actor so morose that he appears almost deserving of his lycanthropic fate. Not so for Anthony Hopkins (See sidebar below.) who seems not to be taking any of his family’s tragedies all that seriously. Technically, the movie is well-shot by cinematographer Shelly Johnson, and Rick Hendrichs’s production design combined with Danny Elfman’s music gives it the sort of creepy, atmospheric feel that made the first version so good. Aside from that, there’s nothing new from a creative or plot standpoint that justifies remaking this film. I know it’s unfair to compare works from different eras with each other so I’ll go further and say that on its own merits alone, this WOLFMAN is a real dog. CRITIC’S GRADE: C

EXCELLENT MOVIES STARRING ANTHONY HOPKINS: THE LION IN WINTER (1968), YOUNG WINSTON (1972), MAGIC (1978), THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)*, HOWARDS END (1992), SHADOWLANDS (1992), THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (1993), NIXON (1995), AMISTAD (1997), THE WORLD’S FASTEST INDIAN (2005) *Won Academy Award for Best Actor