Posted on 8/26/10 01:18 AM
The Wolfman was at the best visually striking, however due to poor writing by two fairly good writers, David Self(Road to Perdition) and Andrew Kevin Walker(Se7en), it falls flat. This is due in large part to me not caring about anyone in the movie or what happens to them.
Joe Johnston is a notable contributor to my childhood movie experiences, and consequently, is a major part of my current pursuit into the world of filmmaking. He has consistently permeated my childhood with films that I grew up loving such as:
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
He also, before those films, worked on some of my STILL favorite films, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the original Star Wars Trilogy as a Visual Effects/Art Direction guy.
So I like Joe.
BUT... this film wasn't a great step for him. All of his films are larger than life adventure films. This one was better suited for a different helmsman. While it is visually striking, the writing was sub-par, the acting just decent (no excuse, look at the cast!!), and the directing just....well....good.
Where this film falters most is not in its actors or in its directing, but the story.
All the elements are there, but they don't matter, I simply can't feel or love any of the characters. I hated one(you'll see him and understand) but other than that, they were very shallow. I have one element of storytelling I understand to be consistently true with movies that deal with fantastic or supernatural elements, namely sci-fi or fantasy. That is the fact that no matter how rich your world is in these movies that are, for lack of a better word, impossible, you have to have characters that people care about in order for them to accept the world that the character is in. In this instance "impossible" means a world where people turn in to werewolves, fight with lightsabers, or fight a war against ugly things called orcs. I did not love these characters and this is the type of film that, without that element to the story, it serves itself as what it is, a visually exciting, cheap thrill horror film directed by someone better suited to directing a PG-13 action adventure film.
The gore hurt the film. I usually will never say that, but I wanted to see a creeping and hunting Wolfman, I wanted to feel the tension build and anticipate the violence, and then be struck by horrific images of the beast tearing apart someone (even including some of the gore). Resulting in the allusion to the fact that, no matter what, the beast will take over. Instead, I was shown all of the violence. It left nothing to imagine, which in this case, the "what COULD have been" that I would have imagined would have been much scarier.
It has a delightful feel of camp throughout, almost like a dusting, and it is fairly tastefully applied. However, that feeling, along with the brilliant art direction, and the good ol' Universal feeling of a Blockbuster, only serve as a wonderful white icing on top of a secretly burnt cake.
I want to also make a quick comment or two about specific things:
The editing, at least in the beginning, and definitely during the conversations felt choppy and uninspired.
The asylum sequence is the best part of the entire film, and saved me from completely not caring about Lawrence.
I appreciate the fact that Lawrence's non english accent was explained.
Hugo Weaving is in total Agent Smith mode for at least two scenes.
I wanted to really, really, like this movie. However, it fell flat on some fronts. It's not terrible by any means, so it deserves a positive review, even though I wanted it to be more than it was.