The Wolfman Unrated DVD Review: The Manimal Who Came To Dinner
Updating the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr. split personality shape shifter spree The Wolf Man on which it is based, Benicio Del Toro's confused canine in Joe Johnston's The Wolfman exhibits similarly alarming anti-social tendencies when in mixed company, but with somewhat less to chew on. And while German émigré screenwriter Curt Siodmak's classic original bore the imprint of someone who had fled the similarly lethal anti-semitic scourge of Hitler, with Bela Lugosi providing the narrative bite, the new and not improved Wolf Man veers more towards dysfunctional family conflict and outsider phobia species profiling.
Del Toro is Lawrence Talbot, at least for now, a brooding late 19th century rural British loner who was sent by his callous dad (Anthony Hopkins) to a London insane asylum and then to live with an aunt in the US, after witnessing as a young boy the violent death of his mother, an alleged suicide. But Talbot, long estranged from his father, has been summoned back to the remote family estate by his brother's distraught fiancé Gwen Conliffe (Emily Blunt), after he's found brutally murdered, possibly by the local ostracized gypsies or perhaps a wolf. Even a circus bear owned by the gypsies falls under suspicion, though his only claim to fame is dancing.
And while the frantic villagers hunt for the four legged culprit, Lawrence is bitten by the apparently bulletproof beast but survives. Which according to the gypsies is an irreversible fate worse than death, because only his annihilation will put all the humans in the vicinity out of harm's way. At the same time, Lawrence is stunned by his sudden physical prowess without benefit of steroids, and a potentially uncontrollable basic instinct to involuntarily mate with the beyond clueless Victorian male magnet Gwen.
Soon a sly snoop from Scotland Yard is on the case, while the hamlet's minister deduces the havoc as God's vengeance for man's bad behavior in general, and the inhabitants accuse the gypsies of perpetrating a curse. And when Lawrence is finally cornered as the homicidal hybrid culprit, he's sent back to the insane asylum, where he soon takes it over, after objecting to what seems like an application of primitive waterboarding as a cure for what the pompous practitioners there misdiagnose as mental illness. Meanwhile, possible allusions to current fears of foreign orchestrated terrorism, as well as the appearance of Darwin's Origin Of Species shocker linking man to beast several decades prior to the timeline of this yarn, loom a bit in the background.
And without giving too much away, all does not particularly end well for the bite much worse than his bark creature. And the same can unfortunately be said for this movie, which features a like father like son climactic showdown staged more as a World Wrestling Federation bout with fur.
DVD Standard Def Features: Deleted and Extended Scenes.
BLU-ray Hi-Def Extras: Two Alternate Endings; Featurettes: Return of the Wolfman; The Beast Maker; Transformation Secrets; The Wolfman Unleashed: Digital Copy of the film for a limited time only (expires 6/30/11); U-Control: Access bonus materials without leaving the movie; Take Control: Special Makeup Artist Rick Baker, Visual Effects Producer Karen Murphy-Mundel and Director of Photography Shelly Johnson ASC take control of the viewing experience by stepping inside the film to reveal details of the filmmaking process; Werewolf Legacy, Legend and Lore: Virtual tour through over seventy years of Universal's Wolf Man films and a thousand years of Werewolf mythology; BD Live™: Access bonus content, trailers and more through an internet-connected player; The Wolf Man (1941): Watch the first ever online streaming of the original 1941 The Wolf Man for a limited time only My Scenes Sharing: Share your favorite scenes; My Chat: Chat with friends while you watch The Wolfman and participate in live events; My Movie Commentary: Create your own text and video commentaries; Pocket BLU™: App for smartphones; Virtual Remote and Keyboard: Control and communicate Blu-ray™ features; Mobile-To-Go: Add exclusive bonus features to your device; Social BLU™: Connect with friends on social networks to talk about The Wolfman.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Prairie Miller is a multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio. Contact her through NewsBlaze.
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