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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Wolfman

Submitted by on February 7, 2011 – 10:12 AM19 Comments

Death Race 33, Sarah 23; 2 of 24 categories completed

I wish I'd seen it in the theater; The Wolfman isn't quite campy enough to work, but in a few scenes, it's close, and a Friday-night Brooklyn crowd would have gone a long way towards getting an overly self-serious gorefest out of its own way. And it is gore-ree: heads torn off, claws going through soft palates, the disarticulated arm of a posse member hurled out of a trap and firing the handgun its hand is still clinging to. The CGI isn't terribly good — the wolf creature appears weightless in most of its long shots, like a Colorform — but the makeup, for which the movie's nominated, is effective, and whoever had charge of all the bloody stumps really did a great job, because: gross.

But, while the not-goodness took a slightly different form from that I'd expected, it's still not good. Why did we need two Oscar-winners for what's essentially a creature feature? The one whose character is written with any surprises (Anthony Hopkins) is phoning it in; the other (Benicio Del Toro) appears to think he's in a different movie, and the resulting effect is that of Keanu in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Hugo Weaving and Emily Blunt bring nuance to the proceedings (and there's a little Easter egg for true-crime nuts in Weaving's character), but again, you have to wonder why they bothered in a film whose climactic brawl is reminiscent of the Veruca era of Buffy. And not, needless to say, in a good way.

With just under three weeks to go, I've seen 23 of the 56 nominated films and completed just two categories: Adapted Screenplay, and Sound Editing. (…?) Elsewhere in Far Thill, Gen is at 17 (but, with a week off between jobs, looking to put on a burst of productivity) and Mr. Stupidhead is at 16. The Let's Get This Over With Family Movie Revue will probably run a split squad tonight with Stupidhaus watching The Town and Sarah watching Iron Man 2.

How you doin'?

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  • Meredith says:

    Mr. Meredith and I saw this in the theater, and it did go a far piece toward making things more fun. Still, I wonder why so many British actors like to equate "acting" with "yelling" in their lazier moments. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Hopkins…) Also, I feel like they didn't trust the original Wolfman material enough not to shove lots of gore in. The movie would have felt less uneven without it. It wouldn't have received the Oscar nod, though, so there you go.

  • Caitlin says:

    I watched "Salt" last night (pretty fun!) which brings me to 25/56 and 9/24 categories. Interesting that I've only seen two more movies than you, but they must be the ones with multiple noms, since I've knocked off more categories.

    The ones playing in theatres here that I need to see are: Country Strong, Incendies, The Illusionist, and The Way Back (and I think Biutiful opens next week…)

    The ones on DVD now or soon that I should try and knock off: The Town, Unstoppable, Animal Kingdom, Dogtooth.

    Other than that, I've got to hope for a screening of the shorts, I guess.

    I think if I get to 40, I'll consider that pretty darned close!

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I really hope the makeup/FX guy puts this on his resume just as "In Charge Of All The Bloody Stumps."

    The Town's really pretty good, so try to be on whichever team gets that. IM2 is okay, but I'd rather rewatch Ben Affleck somehow robbing eleven million banks in a ten mile square radius.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I already saw The Town, so, no such luck.

  • Monty says:

    I've seen 25 movies and 12 whole categories. Like Caitlin, I've been starting with the multiple-nomination movies, so I have a really good movie-to-category ratio.

    My secret weapon is my girlfriend, who works at Scarecrow Video (enormous video store here in Seattle, with more titles than Netflix) and consequently gets in free at the local art-house chain. It's a lot easier to motivate yourself for three in-theater movies in a weekend when it doesn't cost so much.

  • Allison says:

    I've never seen Anthony Hopkins so clearly not give a damn about his performance. This was pretty bad.

    In my own ODR, I'me 24/56 and 11/24. I've got GasLand from Netflix and then that's probably it. I don't imagine I'll get a chance to see the shorts unless iTunes releases them like they did a couple years ago. I really wish they'd have kept that up.

  • Todd K says:

    Re: The Town. I only saw the extended cut, which is nearly half an hour longer. This is a unique experience for me. Usually if I see an extended cut, it's because I liked something enough to give it a second look later. In this case, both versions were available On Demand, and I just chose the long one.

    After I watched it, I tried to guess what would have been sacrificed, because a half hour is more than just fractional tightening. Oddly, even though it was long and I would not describe it as "taut," nothing stood out for me as obvious fat.

    I was going to ask the TN readership, but I found an exhaustive breakdown. It looks as though Rebecca Hall and Jon Hamm suffered the most, and Victor Garber's role got even smaller.

  • DuchessKitty says:

    Wow, you are a stronger person than I could ever be because I don't think there's any way that I'll be able to sit through The Wolfman.
    As far as my Death Race goes, I'm at 29 out of 56 movies, and 12/24 categories completed.

    This past weekend I watched Hereafter and I was surprised how much I liked it. But that could just be my Matt Damon love clouding my judgement.
    I'm hoping to see Another Year and Biutiful this week which would close out 2 more categories for me. So I'm feeling pretty good about my progress even though I know that I'm not going to completely finish, as the first sentence of the post attests.

  • avis says:

    Sars-would it be possible to have a note for each of these movies where it mentions if any animals are harmed? I know it's odd but I am really trying to avoid movies where that happens and it would help me decide whether to bother if I knew someone's pet was going to be eaten/sacrified/strung up. Something about Animal Kingdom and Dog Tooth make me worry that pets may be harmed.

    Sorry if this is too pathetic a request.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I'm not going to be able to do that every time. I just won't remember. I hear you, but…you know.

    On the narrow point, Animal Kingdom no, Dogtooth yes but it's incredibly fake.

  • Erin W says:

    avis, you should look online for movie reviews that will call out those specific elements. I know I saw a site once which listed movies which featured onscreen vomiting, and "movie mom"-type reviewers are always on the lookout for underage smoking or whatever. Probably PETA or the ASPCA or somebody has got your back keeping tabs on fictional animal cruelty.

    Also, don't see Winter's Bone. Or True Grit.

    I finished my first Oscar category last night–Best Supporting Actor. When I watch The Social Network tonight it'll finish me on three others. It's all moot though, because I am never finishing Documentary or Foreign; few of these movies are coming to my town.

  • avis says:

    Erin W and Sars – thanks for the heads up. At least I know I won't be winning the Oscars Death Race. I even had my own little spread sheet to keep tabs!

    Erin – people have suggested that but I haven't found anything that specific so far.

    Maybe it's because my animals are getting older and I'm more nervous about them or maybe it's statistically accurate but for some reason it seems like more and more movies are using cruelty to animals as plot devices. I dread seeing animals in any movie these days because you never know what's going to happen. I loved Gran Torino but I spent most of that movie waiting for something to happen to that poor dog.

    Thanks again!

  • Haras says:

    @avis – Winter's Bone involves some squirrel hunting and cleaning (oh, and also a deer from a distance). Not a pet of course, but still unpleasant to watch if you are bothered by that sort of thing.

  • Todd K says:

    The Social Network has an animal-cruelty subplot too, but it's handled with taste and discretion, and the character's culpability is left ambiguous. You can discuss it with friends afterward, and no one is right or wrong.

    OK. Poker face down. More seriously: One older movie I hope you never saw is the 1996 thriller Fear, with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg. Don't even read a plot synopsis, avis; there's an image you want no part of. I certainly wish I had never seen it. Actually, that whole movie was a miserable experience, and I'm not usually sensitive in that way. It's part of the Fatal Attraction/Hand That Rocks The Cradle subgenre (crazy boyfriend, this time), so you go in with all the expectations that entails, but I remember finding this so hatefully OTT in its escalations of cruelty and mayhem that I couldn't imagine anyone having any kind of good time, and I wondered how such a good cast was induced to appear in it. It was way too trashy/empty to *earn* what it puts the characters and audience (and animal) through, if that makes sense.

  • Profreader says:

    Avis — the American Humane Association posts reviews which not only detail the kind of oversight they gave, but also mention if there are (simulated) scenes of animal cruelty. You can check out the "Winter's Bone" review as an example — it's pretty basic. The "True Grit" review gets very detailed as the way the animals were protected.

    It's a pretty extensive list — see if this is helpful.

  • Bria says:

    Totally off-topic: the fact that this post's headline is at the top of my TN gadget on my iGoogle page is causing me serious trauma today, as every time I see it my brain starts replaying the chorus from Wolfman's Brother. This after maintaining a Phish-free brain for, like, 15 years. Oy.

  • Michael says:

    @ Allison: I believe the Oscar nominated shorts are coming to iTunes Feb. 22

  • Allison says:

    Thanks, Michael. I'll look for them.

  • avis says:

    @Proffreader-thanks for the link!

    @ToddK-unfortunately I did see that. And can't unsee it. If there's any bright side it's that I DVRed it and fast forwarded through most of it. Ugh.

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