[Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving]
"Valentine Day" took the top spot this weekend. The mood in the air and the star power on the screen seemed to be a good combination. I went to a movie with bleeding hearts, but this one actually showed them.
SYNOPSIS: After the savage attack on his brother, Lawrence Talbot returns to his family estate to hunt down the lunatic or wild animal responsible.
Joe Johnston, director of "Jurassic Park III" and "Hildalgo", brings a classic Universal monster back to the big screen. The Wolfman, made famous by Lon Chaney Jr. in 1941, is reinvented for a modern audience. With experience with 20th century period pieces, Johnston shoots 1890s Blackmoor England with just the right fog and shades of gray. The moon is used both as ominous set dressing and as the mechanism for the passage of time. The scant use of flickering candle light offered just a hint of warmth, but not enough to keep the chill from the bones.
The story itself is adequate, made better by the snarling of Hugo Weaving's Scotland Yard inspector, not Benicio Del Toro's performance. Although Benicio's look and physique lends itself to the Wolfman character as both man and beast, Weaving's role as Del Toro's foil is the full moon of this film. Anthony Hopkins takes a turn as the Talbot patriarch, his role both dreary and sinister. The target of all of the Talbot men's affections, Emily Blunt feels at home in period England garb and demeanor.
There are some good parts in the film, from the leaf littered halls of the Talbot estate to the medical theatre at the London asylum, from the local Blackmoor pub to the depth of its neighboring forests. The movie is both monster movie and suspense thriller. But does it live up to the legacy of one of the Universal's famous monsters? Its hard to say. Even with all the CGI magic Hollywood has to offer, Del Toro's werewolf transformation does not hold up to "An American Werewolf in London" or "The Howling" or even Lon Chaney Jr. in the original "The Wolfman". Johnston tries to be true to the original, and succeeds on many levels, but sometimes a copy is simply that - a copy.
Worth: Matinee or Netflix