After being cursed by delays The Wolfman Hollywood’s latest spin on the popular werewolf myth finally bares its ugly fangs in theaters this week. Predictably the film is a train wreck of a debacle -- one would expect nothing less from a notoriously troubled production that saw its original director Mark Romanek abandon ship just two weeks before the start of shooting -- but The Wolfman’s problems stem less from the late-game addition of helmer Joe Johnston who at the very least delivered a terrific looking film (its gorgeously eerie Victorian aesthetic evoking a palpable exquisite sense of dread is by far its best feature) than from the misguided efforts of its producer and star Benicio Del Toro.
The Wolfman is the brainchild of Del Toro an ardent horror fan who conceived the film as an homage of sorts to the low-budget “monster movies” from the ‘30s and ‘40s that he loved dearly as a child. It’s fashioned as a loose remake of 1941’s The Wolf Man a film that both established Lon Chaney Jr.’s performance as the definitive take on the character and introduced aspects of the werewolf legend now considered sacrosanct. The notion that a werewolf can be felled by an item made from silver for example owes its origin to The Wolf Man.
But Del Toro feels all wrong in the role of Lawrence Talbot the prodigal son of a 19th-century English aristocrat whose fateful encounter with a bloodthirsty lycan the same creature that brutally murdered his brother just days prior triggers his unwitting initiation into the accursed tribe of feral man-beasts. Del Toro's resume of low-key understated performances marked by a muttering often imperceptible delivery in films like Traffic and The Usual Suspects suggests a skill set better suited to playing another famous movie monster one significantly less loquacious than his character in this movie. Seriously -- the guy should have remade Frankenstein instead.
Playing an American-bred (but English-born we’re told) character in an 1890 setting looking uncomfortable in period attire surrounded by such “proper” British actors as Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt and fully annunciating all of his line readings for the first time that I can recall Del Toro appears hopelessly out of place in The Wolfman.
Things only get worse unfortunately when Del Toro’s character transforms into the dreaded werewolf. Each time the moon is full the film transitions with increasing ridiculousness from a somber Victorian drama into a hard-core horror flick replete with grisly shots of torn flesh exposed spines and severed limbs. The first overly gruesome attack triggers a kind of nervous laugh more from the shock than anything else. The second invites an amused uneasy chuckle which soon snowballs into an outright belly laugh. And the effect soon spreads to the dialogue the outrageous gore rendering the film's mannered melodrama strangely hysterical.
Of all the Wolfman players only Hopkins seems to get the joke reveling in his manipulative mischief as Talbot's inappropriately glib stoutly aloof father. If only he'd let his castmates in on it.
Top Story: Security Guards Arrested on Set of Troy
Authorities arrested six security guards on the set of Brad Pitt's new film Troy, The Associated Press reports, and charged them with stealing an all-terrain motorcycle and tools belonging to the production. The men, who were part of a security team to protect the film being shot in Baja California, Mexico, near the resort city of Cabo San Lucas, apparently were complaining they hadn't been paid since Hurricane Marty blew through the area last week, AP reports. On Friday, police told AP they stole a 2003 Honda four-wheel motorcycle designed for use on sand dunes, a chain saw and an air compressor from the set. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starting Pitt, Peter O'Toole and Orlando Bloom, Troy retells the tale of Paris, a prince of Troy, who steals Helen, queen of Sparta, from her husband, prompting an army of Greeks to lay siege to Troy. It is scheduled to hit theaters next year.
50 Cent Moves On Up
Rapper 50 Cent has bought a mansion that once belonged to heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, AP reports. The rapper, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, reportedly paid $4.1 million for the 48,000-square-foot mansion in Farmington, Conn., which includes 52 rooms, servants' quarters and a boathouse.
Grammer Revives His Show's Last Season
Kelsey Grammer wants to go out with a bang, not a whimper. According to AP, the Frasier star has brought back some of the show's former writers, including Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan, who left the show three years ago, to infuse some of the old magic in the NBC series' final season. "We spun our wheels a bit too long last year, that's all, and now we're back on the right footing," Grammer told AP, indicating last year's lackluster ratings. "There's just a lightness again. There's a frivolousness about the tone of the show that I think was always there that was kind of muted last year."
Leave It To Beaver Co-Star Dies
Former child actor Stanley Fafara, best known as the Beaver's pal Whitey on the TV hit Leave It To Beaver, died Sept. 20 in Portland, Ore. of complications from surgery he underwent last month to repair a constricted intestine caused by a hernia, Reuters reports. He was 53.
Role Call, Part I: Minnelli Gets Arrested, Cleese Graces Will & Grace
Liza Minnelli will tackle her first acting gig in eight years when she does a guest stint on Fox's new comedy sitcom Arrested Development. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series revolves around the eccentric Bluth clan, who band together when patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) is arrested for fraud and their assets are frozen. Minnelli will play a rich widowed socialite and nemesis of Mrs. Bluth (Jessica Walter)…In other television news, John Cleese will make a guest appearance on NBC's Will & Grace, playing Lestor Finster, the father of Karen Walker's (Megan Mullally) late husband's mistress Lorraine Finster (Minnie Driver). According to The Reporter, a romance will blossom between Karen and Lestor. "The budding and perverse romance between (Lestor and Karen) is going to span the whole season," Will & Grace executive producer Jeff Greenstein told The Reporter.
Role Call, Part II: Wonder Woman Lives!, Macy Moves to Indiana
Warner Bros. Pictures, along with producers Joel Silver and Leonard Goldberg, is in development to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. Variety reports the film will go back to the roots of the famed comic books but would be set in the present day. No talent is attached as yet…William H. Macy and director Steven Schachter, who recently won six Emmys for TNT's Door to Door, are teaming up on the psychological thriller Belle of Indiana. According to The Reporter, the indie feature, set in rural Indiana during the early 1900s, centers on Belle, who is deserted by her husband, and Jennie, Belle's ward who is prone to wild behavior. After trying to run the farm on their own, the duo advertises for a male employee only to have an endless supply of handsome farmhands show up. However, the men soon end up mysteriously disappearing one by one.