I watched the 2010 remake of “The Wolfman” the other night (we own it on DVD). I saw the original 1941 film on TV several months ago—it was terrible and cheesy, and generally awful. The remake of the movie, however, is much better. I’m glad they threw out the original story-line and wrote a whole new one (I like it when remakes do that—I don’t see much point in watching the same movie with different actors).
The movie is set in Blackmoor England in 1891. It tells the story of Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del Toro), an up and coming actor, who returns home to his estranged father’s (Anthony Hopkins) estate on the moor when his brother is mauled and killed by a mysterious beast. At the request of his brother’s fiancée (Emily blunt), Lawrence Talbot begins investigating the death. But at the next full moon, the werewolf strikes again, killing several people and biting Lawrence. Now, the nature of the murders has caught the attention of Scotland Yard and a suspicious investigator (Hugo Weaving) is sent in.
Anyway, they got quite a bit of this movie spot on. The lighting was perfect; it was creepy and gloomy and just suggestive of the surreal darkness of Blackmoor, England. The settings, too, were exceptional. The old mansion; the simple village; the barbaric and primitive sanitarium. Even the special effects were superb. Of course, with computers nowadays they can do just about anything. The test, I think, is, whether or not they overdo it. Although there was a bit too much gore, perhaps, I thought the special effects were well done and quite fitting. The transformation of the werewolf was entertaining and realistic (as realistic as a transformation can be) to watch.
I was disappointed, however, with the battle between the two werewolves at the end. With all the care that they obviously put into this movie—the gloom, the setting, the special effects—I was annoyed with the cheesiness of the final showdown. It was too Hollywood and could have been done much better.
Still, overall, I thought it was an exceptional movie. At least, it was good enough to buy. I’ll give it four out of five stars.
I watched Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (again) a couple of nights ago. And keeping with my Thursday vampire theme, I decided to review it for my blog. I know it’s an older movie (1992), but I think it marks an important milestone in vampire cinema. The film had a formidable cast: Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing, Wynona Ryder as Mina Harker, Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker, and a few other talented names or almost-names. It was an early movie for Keanu Reeves, so his acting skills were somewhat unpolished, yet his performance fit the role well. He comes across as naïve, in a stiff sort of way. And that, surprisingly, worked. The other actors did fine as well. The weakness of the film was not in the actors who worked in it, but in some of the liberties the makers took with it.
Of all the Dracula movies I’ve seen—and I’ve seen a number of them over the years—this one, I think, followed Bram Stoker’s original book the best, keeping true to much of the storyline. It begins with Jonathan Harker going to Count Dracula’s castle to help the count purchase various properties in the London area. The Count goes to London, kills a couple people, and is forced to flee back to his castle in Transylvania. A desperate chase ensues. Etc… All that being said, Francis Ford Coppola did take a number of creative liberties with the script. Some of them good, some not so good.
It’s been a while since I read the book, but I don’t think Mina had actual romantic feelings for the Count in the book. She was bitten, of course, and began to succumb to his powers, but the background romance wasn’t there. I like how she was introduced to the Count in the movie, but the whole reincarnation bit, and the amplification of Mina’s role in Dracula’s demise, I have mixed feelings about.
The next topic of concern is the sexuality of the movie. It far exceeds the level of sexuality found in the novel. That’s not really a big surprise considering when Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. As vampires are supposed to be seductive forces of darkness, the sexuality portrayed by the vampires in the movie might have been a bit too brutally bestial at points, but I think it was acceptable. What I didn’t like, however, was the portrayal of the sexuality of the human characters, particularly Mina and Lucy. The whole bit with the pornographic Arabian Nights book and the two young women kissing in the rain was totally unnecessary. And, more importantly, it did not fit at all with the sexual mores of Victorian England which was when the book took place. I think it ruined a potentially very good movie.
Then there was an odd scene with blood flying everywhere (when Lucy was killed). That was just too random and should have been edited out.
Overall, I thought Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula had a lot of potential, but failed to realize much of it. It got distracted by its own efforts to sexualize the vampire to the nth degree. I’ll give it three out of five stars. It’s worth watching, but it could have been a much better movie than it was.