On 29th May, it was announced that Ryan Gosling is due to star in a new version of The Wolfman, after the recent success of The Invisible Man.
Back in 2008, Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer/Jumanji) was brought in three weeks before photography to direct his take on The Wolfman after Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) bailed over creative differences with Universal.
Given the weakness of some of the script elements and Johnston’s late entry into the process, I reckon that he did a pretty decent job. Why?
Well the picture certainly looks good, with some great locations and atmosphere – although the budget/schedule-driven reliance on CGI and a Danny Elfman score that echoes too closely that of Wojciech Kilar’s music for Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) are stumbling blocks.
The casting is sound, with Benicio del Toro as Lawrence Talbot/The Wolfman, Anthony Hopkins as his disturbed (and disturbing) father Sir John and Hugo Weaving as Inspector Francis Aberline (based on the real life Victorian copper), who’s hot on the trail of the blood-thirsty lycanthrope. Hugo Weaving would go on to work with Johnston again in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, playing nasty Hydra boss The Red Skull
I exempt Emily Blunt from this praise, as she has a pretty thankless role as de Toro’s murdered brother’s weepy fiancee. Of del Toro, legendary effects and make-up man Rick Baker said regarding his planned transformation scene:
“Here we have Benicio del Toro, who’s practically the Wolf Man already, to Benicio del Toro with more hair and bigger teeth.”
My favourite scene? – where Talbot is ‘examined’ by greasy shrink Dr. Hoenneger (Antony Sher) and gets a lot more than he bargained for:
Noteworthy: The extended DVD Unrated Director’s Cut contains an uncredited part played by the late Max von Sydow, the original owner of Sir John’s silver cane, which he claims to have obtained in the area of the south of France where villagers were attacked by the so-called ‘Beast of Gévaudan’ in the previous century.