CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Lon Chaney Jr. is STLL "the Wolf Man"

One must give Walt Disney Studios their due, they have protected Mickey Mouse and his colleagues for many years, the same can not be said of the way Universal Studios has treated their Classic Monsters.

**The Wolf Man** is the latest remake from the Universal factory of souless productions. This **Wolfman** is a disappointment. Had Universal executives spent more time on story development than special effects, this "Wolfman" could have been a great Valentine's Day hit. Earning over 30 million dollars, **The Wolf Man** will likely have a significant drop in the box office this weekend.

If one reviews the original **Wolf Man** starring Lon Chaney Jr., we are introduced to an avuncular figure who returns home to reconcile with his greiving father, Claude Rains. Chaney's Lawrence Stewart Talbot is a likeable figure and when he is bitten by a werewolf in the form of Bela Lugosi, one feels sympathy for the Wolf Man's plight.

In the new **Wolf Man,** Lawrence (Benecio Del Toro) is a Shakespearian actor who returns to Talbot Manor to see his cranky father, Sir John (Sir Anthony Hopkins). Lawrence is trying to solve the mystery of who mauled his brother in Talbot Moor and why his late bother's fiance Gwen (Emily Blunt) is still hanging around Talbot Castle. These mysteries cause Lawrence to recall the nightmare of his mother's murder in the Talbot Backyard.

While the mysteries are solved, the multiple resolutions get lost in the blurr of flashcut edits and the slow camera pans of flesh wounds created by Rick Baker. The new **Wolf Man** is full of spectacle, but with no pure heart. Benecio Del Toro starts and ends his performance on a brooding note. Anthony Hopkins creates the most two dimensional role in the movie. Hopkins' Sir John Talbot has enough charm to be a distant ancestor of Hannibal Lechter.As the wise gypsy woman Maleva, one wishes Geraldine Chaplin had more screen time to develop her character.

While people may debate who the best James Bond is, there is no debate for **The Wolf Man** ~ Lon Chaney Jr. is still the best. From 1941 until 1945, Chaney portrayed Larry Talbot in four movies during the War World II years. Written by German Jew Curt Siomak, the **Wolf Man** became a symbol of a hero who had to confront their own violent behavior. Given the stories of Hitler's Holocaust factories, it is no coincidence that a five pointed star marked the fate of people destined for doom.
**Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man** is subtle propaganda. The American Talbot fights a monster who was created man with an Aryan bloodline, Frankenstein. Chaney's last serious **Wolf Man** movie, **House of Dracula** was released after the two atomic bombs were dropped in Japan. Science is used to cure Larry's malady and **The Wolf Man** achieved a happy ending.

There is no cure for the modern **Wolf Man.** When Universal Pictures decides to respect their Classic Monster history, their box office gross will be sustained more than opening weekend.
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