(Editor's note: If you have any remote idea of going to see this movie, then you may want to skip this 'review' since Mr. Scott has painstakingly revealed almost every little detail about this movie. We call those SPOILERS where we come from.)
My boss will fire me if I don’t finish this review which is only a mere two weeks past my dead line… He’s a totally unreasonable boss! Anyway here is my submittal, you’ll notice it is a bit long, Mr. Armstead usually publishes 700-800 word reviews, mine are about double that, because I care about you and I want to save you the grief of having to watch movies like this, so I got a little detailed, plus to be frank, I get paid by the word.
While this review is two weeks past due I’m saddened to report, my viewing was not. There I was opening night with my stepson (15), who is anatomically attached to his texting machine that the rest of us call a cell phone. Twenty minutes into the movie I looked over at him to see if he was still conscious. I was concerned he might have slipped into a coma or something which would have been somewhat exciting as opposed to what was taking place before my drooping eyelids. There he was, texting one of his ho’s, what can I say the boy’s a stud.
Under normal circumstances I would have admonished him to forgo the rude behavior in a theater, albeit a mostly empty theater, and watch the "DAMM" movie but was unable to do so because I actually do love the kid, and don’t like to see him suffer. Plus no one was beside or behind us and his screen was set very dark, so back off!
The first "scare" or "shock" of the movie is at the beginning. The film starts off with the original rhyme as told by Maleva (Geraldine Chaplin, yes she is the daughter of the late Charlie Chaplin). It then cuts to Ben Talbot, hastening thru the woods obviously frightened holding a fairly useless lantern. He is initially scared shitless by what turns out to be nothing, but then and EXTREMELY PREDICTABLY, he is confronted by a werewolf who... does what werewolf’s do… Cool.
Next, the title of the move appears on the screen in the form of a bleeding tomb stone, I thought "can this get any cheesier"? Well no it really couldn’t and did not attempt to, but it got baaaad, reeaal bad.
Everyone knows the basic story line, and this piece of fecal matter did kinda follow the original. Set in the late 1880s, a haunted / tortured nobleman and Shakespearian actor, Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro); whom I’ll call Larry, returns to his family estate in the Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor. His return was requested from his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe (Hot- Emily Blunt -Hot), to help investigate his brothers recent disappearance. Now exactly what an actor was going to do to assist in a disappearance investigation, I’m not exactly sure but the show must go on, and it must’ve been in the script, so I continue:
Upon reuniting with his estranged, dark and extremely detached father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), he discovers a dark secret… Oh wait I’ll get to back to that in a minute; he finds something has been preying on the villagers… Yes imagine that, in a werewolf movie no less.
(The movie jumps around a bit so I thought I would too.)
Sir John greets him and allows him to see Ben's newly discovered body, which is badly mangled and severely decomposed. There he finds a mysterious medallion with his brother's belongings, and is told it came from the nearby Gypsy camp, to which Ben acted as the town's liaison. So, much to his father's annoyance and of course during a full moon... and what seems like three or four hours into the movie he arrives at the camp and is told that the item is from Maleva.
At this point a bunch of stuff happened, flying body parts, a missing kid, and when all is finished, Larry is bitten by the mysterious monster that's been lurking about, and whom supposedly killed his brother. Now as for action, this segment wasn’t too bad. The creature was so fast you couldn’t really see it, and it was all dark and scary with a lot of growling, snarling and screaming so; "OK here we go"! Um, "OK here we go"! But alas, the fun has to end somewhere, so the movie reverts back to utter boredom.
As we would expect he heals extremely and unnaturally quick, left with only a scar. Later on, as he is exploring the house at night, he flashes back to walking outside during the night, finding his father cradling his dead mother, (she had supposedly slit her own throat with a straight razor). Next we watch as "present" day, Inspector Francis Aberline (Hugo Weaving) of Scotland Yard comes round to question Larry about deaths etc., and after a tense moment or so, Aberline departs. Soon after, priests and superstitious locals arrive to take my boy Larry away to dispatch him, but his father rescues him from their grasp with an intimidating shotgun.
Eventually, when found covered in blood after another decent scene or scenes, that ended with a bunch of men missing heads, arms, legs, intestines… you get the idea. He ends up back (wait for it) in the asylum to be cured of believing he is an actual "monster" and not just an insane killer, where he was sent as a child after daddy, after all apparently killed Larry’s mom (ixnay on the uicidesay). Well as it turns out our boy Larry saw what actually happened and was sent to a nut farm in London for his trouble.
I have to say here; the Doctor who was supposed to be curing Larry, then as a child, and again now as an adult was obviously trained at Guantanamo Bay Cuba while interrogating the Taliban captives; he is one sick, twisted, and sadistic son of a bitch. My favorite character of course.
After being relentlessly tortured (again) Larry awakens in his cell, his father now with him. The explanation that the institution gave Larry had convinced him that his mother killed herself, but what he really saw was his father, as a werewolf, who acually killed his mother didn’t really surprise any of us still awake in the audience. Sir Daddy then explains how he was bitten by a wolf boy in a cave when he was hunting. And now for the past 25 years, his man servant has locked him in a crypt each full moon. But one night while in a jealous drunken rage (Sir John confessed that he's attracted to and obsessed with Hot-Gwen. Who isn’t?) He forgot to lock himself in, resulting in Ben's death.
Larry then vows to kill his father and later is taken into a court of scholars to prove to him (Lawrence) as the full moon comes out that he will not transform. He does try to warn them, but they being men of science, scoff. Well we have another decent sequence here as he kills a few dozen or so. And then he rampages across London until dawn. Later at Gwen's place, they admit their feelings to each other. Aberline orders his men to capture Lawrence, who is traveling back to Blackmoor to kill Sir Daddy. Meanwhile, Gwen meets with Maleva where she tries to find a way to lift the curse yada, yada, yada.
I gotta shut this down, so Larry and daddy end up meeting in what turns out to be the last decent sequence of the flick, and of course Larry gets the girl in the end; kind of, well not really; she kills him actually but not before Mr. Scotland Yard gets an owie on his shoulder from you guessed it the werewolf…
Ok, as for the acting; not bad just bored. All of them seemed they’d rather be anywhere other than filming this crap. Sorry, but it’s just what it looked like to me.
Now as to the wolves, being a childhood fan of the werewolf and Lon Cheney Jr., I was expecting great things with current technology in the transformation from man to wolf and back. But sadly that was not the case. It wasn’t bad, or cheesy, I just expected a lot more. Incredibly the new version wasn’t much different that Lon Cheney’s version, just a bit broader and meaner looking. I am not the only one to believe this. "Too old school" was the term frequently used at the urinals after the movie, and then on the way out of the building.
This will sound weird but at an hour and forty two minutes long it was about forty two minutes too long. There was way too much boredom between action scenes. And believe it or not, I’d actually like to see this one more time if it were shorter, in black and white though. The subject matter, and context in which it was shot, would work better I think if this were the case… Just my opinion.
The sad truth is, this could have been a good, if not a great movie, and to be fair I’ve heard there was a lot of back room squabbling, re writes, re edits, arguing and the like which is too bad. Actors of this caliber should be represented in a far better light, even Mr. Del Toro, whose dark personality and demeanor seems to be tailor made for this type of movie and not to sound too corny but I’d like to see him in a "New" Dracula movie. As for the director Joe Johnston, well if it’s his ship, and it sinks, I guess he goes down with it. He had the talent, the scenery, a good "base" story to work with… But just did not deliver.
In closing I wrote a scathing review of "New Moon" when it hit the screen, but my daughter threatened "great Bodily Harm" if I published it, and since she has her own .357 Magnum, I heeded her warning. But keep watch; when the DVD comes out, I just may publish it under another name, Mr. Armstead, for example. Take that, Mr. Zac Efron hater.