DVD Review: The Wolfman

Being a body-shredding beast is such a drag, especially when it’s all your dad’s fault. In The Wolfman, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his hometown in 19th century England to find out how his brother was killed, but learns way more than he bargained for. As he digs deeper into local lore, the clues (and a nasty animal bite) lead him ever-closer to the scary truth and soon he’s in a fight for his life as the local body count jumps, one punctured artery at a time.

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Despite his apparent good-guy gesture, the brooding Lawrence isn’t much fun. With an unfortunate haircut and major grudge against his dad (Anthony Hopkins) he’s also totally boring, preferring solo boozing over witty banter. You’ve got to feel for a guy who tries to forgive his father for a horrific childhood and just move on, only to learn that pops actually did ruin his life. But a wooden performance and bland story make it so tough to care that even a full moon-fueled marathon of death isn’t exciting. The furry creature tearing into Londoners looks fake, while the film’s heavy dose of gore and guts is just unnecessary (skip the popcorn).

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Between the sulking son and his evil dad, at least there’s Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt) to remind us that making out gives both beasts and boys alike something to live for. The widowed sister-in-law is the conscience in a movie about the fine line between men and monsters, tempering nerves at casa Talbot and caring for Lawrence in his time of need. More importantly, she’s also pretty! Set against The Wolfman’s nightmarish setting, her big eyes and cool costumes are a welcome break from fight scenes and mangled corpses.

It’s too bad, then, that one of the nicest scenes between Gwen and Lawrence is among those that were deleted. Their moment of domestic bliss — Lawrence is splayed out on a shag rug, Gwen’s the brave widow with a book — would have been nice. In a similar omission, the butler’s tale about why he hangs with the brutish papa would have connected a few dots, too. Instead, The Wolfman reserves these for the DVD extras, leaving us with little more than a trail of decomposing bodies, empty gypsy legends and dripping, bloody regret.

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