Universal Classic Monsters: 10 Ways Benicio Del Toro’s The Wolfman Is Underrated
The Wolfman is a great Universal Monster, but Joe Johnston’s 2010 remake was more of an underrated film. Here are best aspects of the film.
The Universal monsters have been icons of cinema leading to different remakes and reboots. The most famous of the reboots being Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy trilogy. Well, after those movies proved to be box-office hits, Universal attempted to bring back another classic monster.
With director Joe Johnston, The Wolfman returned to the big screen in 2010. Retitled to The Wolfman, the reboot was received poorly and did not perform well at the box office. However, over the years, The Wolfman has garnered a cult status from Universal fans. What is it about the updated werewolf movie that earned a following?
10 It Tried Something Different
When it comes to reboots, filmmakers can make the mistake of playing things too close to the original. This results in a movie feeling like a rehash but then there’s the opposite extreme of going so different that it feels like a betrayal. The Wolfman is somewhere in the middle.
The first half of the movie acts more or less like a remake of the original film. A well-done remake but the last half takes things in a different but fitting direction for the tale.
9 Anthony Hopkins Is GOAT
No shocker here, Anthony Hopkins is a masterclass actor so he steals the show. Hopkins is not a stranger to Universal remakes as he was in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In The Wolfman, Hopkins plays the father of Lawrence Talbot and he provides quite a different character from the original.
The character goes from a stoic father to a rather villainous role throughout the movie. There is a twist with the character and a climax that tends to have divided opinions. Either way, Hopkins leaves a memorable impact on the movie.
8 Stellar Supporting Cast
Emily Blunt as Gwen provided a much stronger character than the original: she’s more than a love interest and a damsel. Of course, the standout performance would be Hugo Weaving as Inspector Aberline.
At first glance, one would expect Weaving to be playing a villain or an antagonistic Inspector obsessed with killing Talbot. Instead, Weaving plays it more realistically: he’s logical and cares about justice. Also, it’s because of The Wolfman, Hugo Weaving reunited with the director in Captain America: The First Avenger as Red Skull.
7 Straight Out Of The Golden Age
One thing that carries over from The Mummy movies is the look and feel. Every set, every location, costume, and character fits the Victorian setting. Joe Johnston’s attention to detail in bringing the 19th century to life is just stunning, especially in the London scenes.
It also nails that gothic atmosphere that the Universal monsters are famous for. The foggy nights and the colors lead to a dark yet beautiful looking movie.
6 Music Of The Night
A big part of what made the Golden Age of Universal monsters so famous was the music. When there is no dialogue, music drove the scenes in the old movies. Who better than the man who revolutionized Batman music to compose music for a Universal monster?
Danny Elfman’s score in The Wolfman is like a mix of his Batman with the music heard in the Hammer horror films. This is far from a bad thing as it gives a soundtrack that is just as good on its own without even seeing the movie. In the movie itself, the music fits every scene perfectly: especially the main suite.
5 The Werewolf Effects Are Top-Notch
When a werewolf movie is made, there is one requirement: at least one great transformation scene. The original Wolf Man used a very impressive effect and Lon Chaney Jr. wore the makeup like a boss. In the reboot, The Wolfman leans more toward a painful American Werewolf In London-esque transformation since the effects artist for that movie did this one.
The transformations are done through genuinely impressive CGI but the actual monster himself is a practical man in a suit. The werewolf looks stunning: it keeps the more human-like design of the original but updating it enough to be more intimidating.
4 A Bloody Good Time
Modern-day remakes and reboots tend to nerf the violence to get more demographics. Joe Johnston and crew did not succumb to this: The Wolfman earns an R rating through its graphic gore and lots of blood.
In a way, it’s actually a step up from the original where the kills were pretty tame. In this movie, the Wolfman racks up more kills than Jason Voorhees would in a Friday The 13th movie.
3 Universal Horror At Its Finest
The Wolfman also avoids a mistake that 2017’s The Mummy made. While it does update the effects and characters for modern storytelling, it doesn’t add silly jokes or adds contemporary elements just to seem hip. At the end of the day, The Wolfman is a horror monster movie.
It never strays away from that and keeps a dark and eerie tone throughout. From beginning to end, The Wolfman feels like it belongs in the realm of Dracula and The Mummy.
2 A Tragic Monster Tale
One key element that makes Universal monsters work is that in some way, their story is a tragedy. With Dracula, eternal life comes at a price, and loving someone is impossible. With Frankenstein, the Doctor wanted to do good while the Monster was only a monster because of his creator.
The reboot of The Wolfman really amplifies the tragedy of Lawrence Talbot. Without spoiling, there is a mystery to his past and the loss of the members of his family that make him sympathetic. Add in the fact that he’s a good man cursed to murder innocents on a full-moon is enough to make him the saddest Universal monster.
1 Benicio Del Toro’s Performance
It is no easy task following up Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot. However, Benicio Del Toro continued to prove he is a stellar actor by nailing the tragedy and likability of Talbot. It also helps that Del Toro looks uncannily similar to Lon Chaney Jr. to the point of questioning if they’re related.
Of course, playing the cursed human side is important but believe or not, it is actually Benicio Del Toro behind the makeup of the werewolf. That’s the same kind of dedication that Chaney had all those decades ago. If there is anything to watch The Wolfman for, it is Del Toro as Lawrence: he carries the entire movie.