The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated/R
Feature running time: 119/112 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving, Art Malik
Directed by: Joe Johnston
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker & David Self
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 1, 2010
"When the moon is full the legend comes to life"
The werewolf legend returns in a blood curdling, high-energy thriller inspired by the Universal classic that launched a legacy of horror. Oscar® winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, an aristocratic Englishman who returns to his family estate after the mysterious death of his brother. Under the light of the full moon, Talbot is attacked by a terrifying beast and discovers his horrifying destiny. Oscar® winner Anthony Hopkins plays Talbot's estranged father and Golden Globe® winner Emily Blunt is his late brother's distraught fiancée in a lush nightmare that will terrify a new generation.
My early childhood nightmares revolved around the oft reran horror classics from Universal Pictures. Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman were principal among them and were the figures that I most associated with horror. I saw the Wolfman as more of a sympathetic character as his uncontrollable transformation was more an affliction. When he wasn't the monster he was a decent guy struggling to find a way out. Today's films that deal with lycanthropy are much different both thematically and visually. That isn't a bad thing as the essence of the legend on film has evolved. I have always had a place in my heart for the original and I appreciate the homage paid to it in this retelling.
The storyline and effects have been tweaked and updated and the result blends action and horror as it attempts to expand the mythos of the originals legacy. The script devotes lots of time to Lawrence (Del Toro) in the now but unsuccessfully connects the audience with his past which includes the estranged relationship with his father Sir John (Hopkins). At its heart the dramatic elements in the story hinge upon Lawrence's reasons for being away since childhood. He returns after being contacted by his brother's finance Gwen when his brother Ben goes missing. There are only glimpses of flashbacks and innuendo regarding Lawrence and Ben's childhood which includes the untimely death of their mother. Obviously based upon the story's outcome some of this is intentional however I would have preferred a deeper understanding of the familial dynamic which would probably have made the outcome a bit more rewarding. Sir John is an ambiguously drawn character played to dark perfection by Anthony Hopkins. The estrangement between Sir John and Lawrence is presented in fragments that come together later (sort of) but can be frustrating over the course of the film.
Jump scares are few however this plays more in line with the story's B movie level of suspense. The action based sequences are in line with today's films and feature good special effects (ala Rick Baker) and reasonable levels of gore. I had a hard time accepting Benicio Del Toro in the role of Lawrence. His uncharismatic personality and brooding demeanor didn't seem like a good fit. I appreciated Emily Blunt's portrayal of Gwen and Hugo Weaving had no trouble handling Scotland Yard's Detective Abberline. I watched the unrated director's cut which adds 7 minutes to the theatrical version's runtime. As mentioned earlier I would have preferred a better developed story and smoother pacing but otherwise I think that The Wolfman achieves a fair level of success in its attempt to remake the 1941 classic.
This films contains graphic horror violence, disturbing images and thematic material that is unsuitable for young viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Wolfman comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 Mbps.
This high definition video presentation offers quality that is consistent with other newer release films that have been released on Blu-ray Disc. Blacks are strong, with deep gradations and dynamic highlights that look great when onscreen with mixed content. This is a dark film both thematically and aesthetically that contains a variety of sequences shot in low lit environs and uneven light. Shadow detail is excellent. Contrast and brightness aren't overdriven which provides punch while preserving detail in dark and light elements onscreen. The color palette is limited and primarily makes use of reserved earth tones and varying shades of gray and blue that is rarely eye catching. When applied, primary colors such as the ice blue of Emily Blunt's eyes are noticeably enticing and stand out nicely. Flesh tones have appreciable complexional variety and appear lifelike. Images are delineated and revealing of good textural nuance that enhances close ups. Long range shots aren't resolved quite as well but appear dimensional. Resolution is excellent however the video isn't always definitively resolved. Softer definition that appears innate to the photography is obvious but I wouldn't define it as deleterious. A light veil of grain imparts a film like texture that is never intrusive. This is a solid high definition offering that mates well with the source material.
The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio delivered an enriching surround sound experience. This is a dynamically charged mix that features clear dialogue and lucid high level detail that elevate the perception of lower level sounds within the recording. The exemplary sound design carefully blends subtle ambience, discrete near field pans, and off camera spatial cues to create a stable, immersive and articulated listening environment within my room. This results in superb imaging and seamless soundstage integration that make the experience quite involving. Bass response is excellent. The action based sequences have hard hitting authority with palpable extension, and room filling dynamics that help heighten suspense. This is a well rounded and invigorating surround mix that enhance the film's thematic elements and makes for an engaging home theater exhibition.
- Unrated and Theatrical versions of The Wolfman
- Legacy, legend and lore - PiP Bonus view feature - comparisons, trivia, mythology and more!
- Take control - Featuring make-up guru Rick Baker, Visual FX producer Karen Muprhy-Mundell and director of photography Shelly Johnson as they dissect/discuss select scenes from the film
- (HD) 2 Alternate endings
- (HD) 5 deleted/alternate scenes
- (HD) Return of The Wolfman - 12 minute featurette
- (HD) The Beast Maker - 12 minute feature on make-up master Rick Baker
- (HD) Transformation secrets - 15 minute special effects featuette
- (HD) The Wolfman unleashed - 8 minute stunt featurette
- Social BLU - Connect with friends on your favorite social networks to share information about your favorite movies, enjoy Blu-ray community features and more
- Pocket BLU - app uses iPhone, iPod® touch, Blackberry®, Android, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray player
- BD-Live - Whats New: (HD) Includes streaming of the entire 1941 classic film The Wolfman.
- D-Box motion code enabled
- Digital Copy of The Wolfman
The Wolfman is a remake of the classic 1941 horror film which starred the great Lon Chaney in the title role. This retelling pays homage to the original and had good potential but ultimately falls short with a muddled script and uneven pacing. That isn't to suggest that it is without merit. Fans of the original will probably appreciate its ode to bygone era horror classics and there is enough action and special effects to appeal to today's genre lovers. Universal sweetens the deal with a strong audio/video presentation and a Blu-ray friendly bonus feature package that covers the production and pays worthy tribute to lycanthropy in general. Give it a rent of fright night.
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