After years of delays (for various reasons), we finally got a modern update with 2010’s The Wolfman. I understand that this review is a few years late, but since there wasn’t a review of it I figured what the heck? Usually when you read so much about a film getting delayed and having various other issues you might assume that the final product will be nothing more than mediocre. Quitethe contrary as The Wolfman offers a fun, well paced and fairly creepy remake of an old classic. Benicio Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot. He returns to his homeland after his brother (Ben) has been killed by a strange creature. Emily Blunt plays Ben’s finance, Gwen. Obviously she is shaken up over his death and Lawrence vows to find out what happened to his brother. One night when Lawrence along with several of the townsfolk are hunting the beast, Lawrence is bitten and is now cursed by a werewolf. Anthony Hopkins plays Lawrence’s father, John Talbot who may or may not have a few secrets of his own. Hugo Weaving also shows up as Inspector Aberline. He hopes to find answers as to whats been going on and is more than a little skeptical. Director Joe Johnston does a great job of recreating the the late 1800’s while also blending modern effects to the film. The R rating (unrated in the longer director’s cut, but it still would’ve likely secured an R rating) is well earned and the film gives the audience exactly what it wants. There are decapitations, blood splattering and more than enough share of gore. I just appreciate the overall look to thefilm as well. Visually speaking, it’s quite striking. There’s a particularly creepy sequence in an asylum that ends in bloodshed. The effects are also convincing. The makeup effects mixed with theCGI never rang false to me. This is one of those rare exceptions where all the elements simply add up. It’s scary in the right places, paced perfectly and plenty of action. As strange as this comparison might seem, the wolfman (as least the character himself) is not unlike the incredible hulk. Obviously, this isn’t a superhero film, but both Bruce Banner and Lawrence Talbot don’t wish to become their alter ego. Clearly, we want to see the hulk and the wolfman appear, but this can be damaging to the main character as well as others. I just found that element fascinating. It’s literally a beast within. I hate that this film didn’t do better at the Box Office, but I can only hope that its garnered a bigger fans base in the years since its release. It’s one of the rare remakes that improves on the original.
This Blu-ray disc not only includes the theatrical cut, but also a longer director’s cut that adds some 15 minutes or so of footage to the film. I strongly advise watching both cuts, but I do still preferthe theatrical cut. I Simply think it’s paced better. The unrated cut adds an early scene of Lawrence performing on stage. This makes up a large chunk of the new cut and there’s a scene of Lawrence as he’s on a train to home after his brother’s death. There are several other minor additions throughout the longer cut, but the amount of gore is relatively the same. In the extended cut it also takes much longer before we get the first appearance of Lawrence as the wolfman. Also worth noting is that when this film first arrived on disc it offered the chance to stream the original The Wolfman via BD-Live or other methods, but this option is no longer available. I think that was a nice touch, but I still would’ve preferred an actual bonus disc. Still, it’s hard to complain about something that didn’t have to be given to begin with. This hardly matters now since the option is no longer available, but I wanted to mention it nonetheless.
Video: How’s it look?
Universal has done a first rate job with this transfer. The disc is jam packed with not only two cuts of the film, but also a ton of features and fortunately the transfer isn’t compromised because of this. The image is AVC encoded with a 1.85:1 ratio. The print is pristine and there’s hardly a flaw in sight (no pun intended). There’s only the most minor instance of grain, but this is never a huge problem. The various gore and bloodshed are well presented here and flesh tones are nice and smooth. There are plenty of darker scenes in this film, but they’re recreated here nicely. Thevarious hairs on the wolfman are given exceptional details.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Also strong is the DTS HD track. From the howling of the wolfman across the channels to the various killings and chases throughout the city, this track satisfies. Vocals were always clear and concise and the score came through strong on more than a few occasions. This is a fine track that remained active throughout and served the film well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Universal has given this disc the deluxe treatment. There are two cuts of the film as well as a digital copy disc. Studios have mostly (if not all) veered away from physical discs when transferring digital copies so this might be expired by now. I no longer have the disc or code to see. This disc also takes advantage of Universal’s U-Control feature which can be accessed during the film.
Unrated Director’s Cut – This is a longer version of the film that can be accessed from the disc’s main menu.
Alternate Endings – We get two of them here. I prefer the theatrical cut ending just fine, but these are nice to see. These alter the fate of a major character.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – None of these are great, but there is one nifty sequence where the wolfman is scouring the streets and stumbles into a costume party. There’s a bit more gore in this sequence.
Return of The Wolfman – This gives a look at what they wanted to achieve by updating the story.
The Wolfman Unleashed – This takes a look at some of the action sequences in the film
The Beast Maker – Rick Baker sits down and talks about some of the film’s effects.
Transformation Secrets – This is a discussion on how they approached the visual effects. We learn how they went for a more subtle approach than one might expect.
U-Control (Theatrical cut only) – If turned on, these are various behind the scenes vignettes that can be accessed at random times during the film.