THE WOLFMAN (Blu-ray; 2010) - 2-DISC UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT (Universal) - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 1 Old 06-21-10, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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THE WOLFMAN (Blu-ray; 2010) - 2-DISC UNRATED DIRECTOR'S CUT (Universal)

Studio Name: Universal (Relativity Media)
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated (Unrated version reviewed)
Disc/Transfer Information: 1080p High Definition Widescreen 1.85:1; Region 1 (U.S.) Release
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Joe Johnston
Starring Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt


I always thought it was a smart – and creative – move for Universal Studios when they decided to commission some new visions of the old, classic monster films that defined the filmmaking giant during a certain era. These, of course, came in the form of Stephen Sommers’ re-imagining of The Mummy and Van Helsing; in the case of the latter, Sommers took a slew of the popular “monster” figures from old Universal films – such as Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man – and injected them with a modern, CGI-driven edge to introduce the monsters to a new generation. Incorporating most of these – including the re-invented “Van Helsing” Dracula chaser character – into one major motion picture with an average run time length was a gamble, but in my opinion, Sommers and crew pulled it off. In Van Helsing we have these legendary Universal monster leads and an updated Dracula all coming together for screen time – and it was effective. When Joe Johnston decided to listen to the writers he worked with and planned a specific re-imagining of the classic Wolf Man, fans of these kinds of pictures clamored in anticipation – but what Johnston did, in a wise decision, was to not rely heavily or excessively on CGI or over-the-top modeling and computer work for the wolf attack sequences and such. The result is a much more realistic-looking main monster character and more fluid kill and set sequences (as seen in classics like An American Werewolf in London) as opposed to the super-animated, almost cartoonish approach Sommers and crew took with Van Helsing in terms of how the creatures ended up looking and moving during their screen time.

You would think, with Anthony Hopkins on board for this horror extravaganza, that he would steal the screen and chew up the scenery with each appearance. Actually, who steals the show in this “remake” of The Wolf Man is Benicio Del Toro. Playing Hopkins’ character’s son in The Wolfman, Toro portrays the cursed, troubled character actor who is bitten by the legendary werewolf creature with a conviction not seen since perhaps Javier Bordem’s performance in No Country For Old Men, in my opinion. His acting is kept restrained, and he portrays the struggles of his tormented character utilizing effective facial gestures and eye movements. In this updated version of the Universal Pictures classic – which actually opens with the throwback Universal spinning globe logo which used to adorn all their early films from that era – Del Toro portrays Lawrence Talbot, an actor by profession who returns to his family’s estate in England when he learns of his brother’s grisly murder. The opening sequence of the Unrated Cut – which is the version I viewed and which is being reviewed here – depicts Lawrence’s brother being torn to pieces by the frenzied attack of the wolf creature. Emily Blunt (of The Devil Wears Prada) stars as the brother’s rather sexy (for that era) wife who now remains a widow at the Talbot Estate. Del Toro returns to the home and catches up with his father (Hopkins) while making some flirtatious conversation with his brother’s wife. It’s clear Blunt has a thing for him. Del Toro’s investigation takes him to a local pub, where the town drunks speak of legends regarding a fanged, clawed creature which makes mincemeat out of men in the area. At this point, the wolfman idea is merely a story; a tale to tell around a campfire or over a few mugs of English ale.

That all changes when Lawrence is attacked one evening while he and some Scotland Yard-sent authorities close in on the creature during the full moon of that month. Lawrence is savagely bitten, and his fate has been decided. As the days pass, the classic symptoms of his inevitable transformation become apparent…the hyper-engineered hearing abilities, the nearly instantaneous healing properties of the wounds he suffered during the wolf’s attack…the overall change in appearance and personality. At one point, a slew of townspeople surround and confront Lawrence on his father’s estate’s driveway, ready to shoot him as they know the secret boiling within him. Hopkins shows up, brandishing his gun in the air and taking shots at the men threatening his son – but his protection will only go so far. Once Lawrence changes into the creature for the first time and goes on his nightly rampage, he is subsequently admitted to a mental asylum for observation. There, he is subjected to torturous methods of attempting to remove this “delusion” from his head that he is a werewolf. During one observation session, in which the head doctor in charge of Lawrence’s case gathers other doctors in a room to observe a tied-down Lawrence and to attempt to prove that this is all in his head, the full moon arrives outside and Del Toro transforms before their eyes into the creature. Proving this isn’t just “in his head,” Lawrence, as the wolfman, goes on a frenzied murder spree targeting the medical staff attempting desperately to escape from the building they’re trapped in.

The real kicker and surprise in The Wolfman involves Hopkins’ character and a secret he’s been hiding from his son Lawrence – you’ll have to watch the film for that one to come to fruition. It also involves his mother’s death (you know how these stories go, don’t you, when a father was somehow involved and claimed a death was an “accident” or “mystery?”).

As engaging as this film was, there was something about it that wasn’t quite worthy of recommending a purchase for ownership – the special effects, as I said, were surprisingly not reliant on modern CGI work or usage, and thus the sequences involving Del Toro’s wolfman attacks looked realistic and utterly believable. To compare, in Van Helsing the wolf creature appeared completely cartoonish and utterly wolf-like – but here, Johnston was going for a recreation of the original film’s shock value and so the creature retained nearly human-like facial characteristics and the transformation sequences were not nearly as animated or faux-looking as other films have suggested. When Del Toro leaps from rooftop to rooftop as the creature, or crouches down to run through a forest to chase his next victim, the effect was refreshingly realistic – almost too much so. The facial makeup work was impressive as well when Del Toro was onscreen as the creature, with the massive beard-like hair growth all over the face and the realistic eyes and fangs. This just didn’t look like a CGI-created wolfman.

Hopkins was effective in this, as he usually is, but still there was something just “missing” from the remake of The Wolf Man that stopped it from being a real memorable effort; there were times when I felt I was watching a reenactment of the Jack Nicholson thriller Wolf. Further, Emily Blunt doesn’t do much here except for flirt with Del Toro’s character after her husband is mauled by a werewolf and attempt to snap Lawrence out of his murderous daze when he’s the creature by bellowing at him ”Lawrence, it’s me! I know you can hear me! It’s me!”

She did look kind of yummy in those period-era dresses through…

Okay. Never mind.


Much like Van Helsing, Joe Johnston’s reimagining of The Wolfman was filed in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and appears on this 1080p Blu-ray Disc transfer with this visual information pretty much intact. This is a bit of a departure for Universal’s home video division and their Blu-ray releases in that the film has a purposeful bleak, stark, cold look to it, appropriate for the material and era it’s supposed to portray – most modern Universal releases have been chock full of bright, colorful, image-popping elements for the most part, so this was a tough one to review and comment on. However, given the perspective of what was being sought after here, the transfer is very effective – facial detail was excellent, exhibiting a solid high definition appearance, while shadow detail in this menacingly dark film was actually excellent without signs of any black crush. The overall look of the transfer, as I said, is bleak with cold, stark overtones to depict a cold England countryside of the time, but this showed up nicely on Blu-ray. Many scenes appeared “flat” but again this was due to the photography and creative filming decisions. One sequence in particular blew me away, in which a dark scene faded out into a bright, daytime sequence in the English hillside…the detail in this sequence was strikingly clear, with the trees and grass appearing flawless in appearance and effect. You really felt as though you could step into the scene and become part of the storyline. And this was coming from an outdated-technology-embellished rear projection display.

The shots of Del Toro as the creature looked disturbingly real during close up cuts, and the final fight sequence between father and son was rendered cleanly despite the bleak, dark environment of the Talbot Estate main salon with fireplace.


Universal’s Blu-ray standard in terms of audio tracks supplied with their releases has become DTS-HD Master Audio. Here, in 5.1 configuration, the soundstage is deep, wide and aggressive when called upon, but dialogue was a bit low and soft in terms of delivery in the mix. The wolf creature attacks rampaged through all the channels, startlingly so sometimes, and there was a great sense of transparency in the audio as if the environment had been placed in your living room. Gunshots hit and echoed through the surrounds, horse hoofs and carriages crashed from back to front in conjunction with the onscreen action and voices cried out from every angle in the room – this was an involving Master Audio mix.

Still, it wasn’t perfect – as I stated, I was disappointed with dialogue delivery and there was an overwhelming lack of deep LFE on the track. Some hoofbeats of horses and pounds of claws on the wolf creature itself were accompanied by a bit of thudding and thumping, but there wasn’t anything here that is going to rattle your teeth out, or your plates off the wall. This was disappointing.


As I stated in the beginning, I sampled the Unrated Cut of the disc, so the beginning and ending may very well be different from the Theatrical Cut – however, I did watch an interesting special feature about the remaking of this classic Universal picture, and it was somewhat intriguing to learn what went into this.

There’s a plethora of interactive Blu-ray content on The Wolfman if this is your thing, including U-Control parameters and “Pocket BLU.” I still don’t see the point of these elements, as I always argue it’s about the film you’re watching but…


I wanted to see this theatrically, but missed it. I was excited to see it at home, but was a little disappointed and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly. It’s definitely worth a rental, and the image and audio qualities will make for a good night in your home theater, and if you’re a fan of these re-engineered classic Universal monster films, it will probably entertain.

Last edited by Osage_Winter; 06-22-10 at 12:01 AM.
Osage_Winter is offline  


(2009) , (universal) , director's , of...the , review , unrated , wolfman

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