Synopsis:[spoiler]Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman, is lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father, Talbot sets out to find his brother... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. Talbot's childhood ended the night his mother died. After he left the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor, he spent decades recovering and trying to forget. But when his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe, tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns home to join the search. He learns that something with brute strength and insatiable bloodlust has been killing the villagers, and that a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector named Aberline has come to investigate.[/spoiler]
SPOILER ALERT - the final score is 7/10 but the last part of the review contains a (slight) spoiler!!
To be honest I wasn't expecting much until I heard that Rick Baker was involved. Being familiar with Rick Baker's passion for Horror classics (the original 1941 Wolfman was one of his influences) I was expecting a horror classic from this special effects master - especially considering the cast involved.
We join the story near the hamlet of Blackmoor in the mid 1800's. Blackmoor is a very dark black and gloomy Victorian-Gothic style place where the roads are black, the horses are black and everyone wears black - from the villagers to the gypsies. The usual events take place - a man dies, his death is investigated and another man is bitten by a werewolf and the villagers bemoan the death and tell tales of a beast in the full moon etc etc... nothing given away there.
Really there's not many surprises and twists in terms of story from there on. An alternative structure, yes, but the sucker punch this film delivers is actually in content and style rather than story. Some scenes float by almost like Victorian poetry while others explode from the screen like a well crafted horror trailer. Not sure what Art Malik was aiming for with his 'Kensington Singh' but apart from that that minor accent hiccup the performances all round were to die for. A Directors dream. Intense and pure but not hammy or overacted in the slightest (the non-werewolf scenes). Weaving owns his screen time as only he can. Hopkins is satisfyingly dark and mysterious. Del Toro balances the confused hero with the victim well enough and Blunt's portrayal is a classic tough-damsel, despite the weak writing for her character.
Overall this film mild for horror fans, ideal for Rick Baker fans, a little OTT for regular fantasy fans (it's Rick Baker gore, no holds barred) - a reasonable mix, blended together with cool, dark cinematography and just the right amount of CG.
I reckon this would have been a satisfying 8/10 but I'm taking off another mark for one big reason (Spoiler time): [spoiler]Yes there is a werewolf death match near the end and you can feel it brewing throughout the last half of the film. Unfortunately, I found myself chuckling rather than being thrilled when this fight started because.. well.. rather than the expected brutal, beastly werewolves á la Dog Soldiers and the like, this was more like Angry Rolf Harris Vs Teen Wolf's Dad.[/spoiler]
Besides that (hopefully) unintentional comedy, Wolfman is great popcorn munching stuff.