46) The Wolfman (2010) Dir: Joe Johnston Date Released: February 2010 Date Seen: February 8, 2010 Rating: 3/5
At the end of the second act of Joe Johnston's The Wolfman, Anthony Hopkins's crusty Byronic father figure teaches his son how to cope with being a shape-shifting man-eater, specifically that life is worth living that much more now that he's more than a little bit, er, abby-something. "Life is too glorious, especially for the cursed and the damned." Those choice flamboyant words could easily sum up why it's not such a bad thing that Johnston (Jurassic Park III, The Rocketeer) pinch-hit for music video and One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek, who famously stepped-down from helming The Wolfman due to creative differences. Considering the modest but sufficient momentum Johnston brings to what is otherwise a straight-jacketed and ultimately pointless reboot, the film nicely clears the low bar the film's troubled production history set for its director, one of the more consistent and thankfully unpretentious of Hollywood's B-movie-maker.
The bulk of The Wolfman's troubles plague its tepid first act. Johnston makes far too many conservative creative decisions for his own good, which makes the relatively unfettered second act such a gratifying change of pace. The film's stacked cast, which includes Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving, are clearly giving it their all in spite of the simultaneously skimpy and broad dialogue they're given, especially Benicio Del Toro, who initially seems like he's phoning it in but in fact has gone farther into his morose character than one might expect him to. Then again, the reason why Hopkins comes out on top in the film is because he not only gets a fun, scenery-chewing role to play around with but he clearly is having a blast with it. Much of The Wolfman feels like a dour and aesthetically unmemorable set-up to chase scenes full of leaping werewolves and dismembered limbs. But when Johnston settles his characters into place and manages to finally cut loose, the film works.