Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Review: 69 Year's Old = You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks (But You Can Epically Fail Trying)

Five times out of ten, I'll start a post by listing off the names of a new or current film project. Usually meaning that just by the names and director/writer(s) alone, they can't miss (much). Which is why I'm about to do it again. But honestly, that only get's you so far. In almost more than half the cases, an All-star cast and crew doesn't always mean you're getting something as good one would first surmise.

Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from The Matrix series) Emily Blunt (Red Head Brit from Devil Wears Prada) Benicio del Toro and the great and powerful Anthony Hopkins. All lead by Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III). With a cast like that how can you loose?! Certainly 3/4's of them thought the new take on timeless character was extremely awesome?! And that the script was worth it? And even that Johnston would pull it together? Well, that was the intentions of the film in the beginning @ least...

Please note: 
I think it is terrific that Joe and Benico got this off the ground. I applaud all the cast and crew for working so hard through all the re-shoots and hold ups just get it greenlight. And especially Rick Baker's make-up, 4 hours in the chair will show anyone why he is the best in the business. The cinematography was invigorating and a nice touch with the fog and shadows, and moonlight, always cast and breaking through windows, trees and buildings. The fact that they re-visioned a film my aunt showed me when I way too young (4-5) to watch, was awesome. I held it dear to me as a child and now they have updated it. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the theater last night. And had a lot of fun watching this movie. I truly was excited to see this, and very satisfied with my adventure last night. Joe Johnston, Bencio (who is a longtime true fan and collector of the memorabilia even), Hopkins, Blunt, and Weaving made it really thrilling to watch this.

Now, that being said...
Before I contradict myself here from the above paragraph. 
Let me lay out that there are only two true ways this film can be seen:
  1. Embraced for everything it tries and sets out to be. So sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
  2. Torn to shreds and guts worse than one of the Wolfman's victims. As it fails miserably as a true horror and a chance to recapture the terror that swept the nation as the original did.
From the opener (opening scene), I'm serious, I knew, we weren't getting something truly worthy to be called horror. The key word being horror here. What Universal's franchise from the 30's-40's was all about was really scaring people. To the point where they had to insert public announcements in the beginning of the films to warn people about what they were about to see. Compare it to, The Blair Witch, or The Ring (eh), or Paranormal Activity. Any truly creepy and horrifying film you've seen in later years. 

Regarding my feelings on the film in general: they sacrificed drawn out suspense and true horror for cheap thrills and an overbearing and immature score. 

Dave Attell said something once:

It's like a prison rodeo. No winners.

It should have been an atmospheric minimalistic, not some gaudy slice-'em-up summer blockbuster. I swear on my life, and every bit of film analyst in me, I second guessed if they were actually mocking the wolf man, and making fun of him through this movie. Before I saw this movie, I was thinking No Country For Old Men, or The Departed. As far as how riveted with sweat and suspense and fear I was going to be. After I walked out of the theater, it was more akin to Pineapple Express.

Joe Johnston, did not disappoint one bit. In the sense that once I heard his name attached to this, I was already pissed he was gonna rip all the truth and reality out of it. He's like a bad Michael bay clone, bad in the sense he can't do action like Michael does, but kills the sense that things are important for a reason beyond making tons of money from the box office. There was probably twenty of those, "out-of-nowhere-a-flash-of-something-scary" type fillers, too. It was getting ridiculous fo sho son. And the fact that a wolf hunts (as all predators do) for food and to provide and teach for the off-spring. He was turned into a real maniac who just merks people's guts out of them and literally slaps the heads off of people's necks. Slaps. Like a mother to her potty-mouthed child. The violence was obviously bad writing/near-sighted directing or both. And more to the point, it was completely without sense.

The more you see this thing running around, the more it chips away at the only redeeming quality it has: the fear chasing you, that you can't see. 

And maybe there's a reason that we're not supposed to see a 6 foot wolf that more closely resembles a completely hair fuckin' man. Maybe there's a reason that something like that, shouldn't really be shown close up running on all fours, or better yet trotting around on it's tip toes. I understand the reason to keep a few shots of the thing, in it;s full form, there completely necessary. Hell, maybe one or two more than just a few. Let's get crazy! But it behooves us to remember the ways of Jaws and Alien. The first two times you see this thing's face, it's awesome and fuckin' scary. When it's drooling and growling and SUPER PISSED at you for no reason other then the warm blood coursing through your veins. But after a while, you wonder, "Why this?"And, "Oh woopy! Another close-up..." Or why they didn't give him a snout like real wolf and every other cool werewolf? I was sure they would, until they leaked it and I read that Baker and del Toro wanted to keep the Jack Pierce designs.

The original film was about the terror this man felt about the beast he was, and the tragedy that befell him and his father. He was in love, but could not obtain it, his father in morning over the dead son, and now reconnecting with his (now) only son. Larry Talbot was a tragic figure, something out of Shakespeare. With all the love Benico had for this project, the script was close to nonsensical in the ways of the true character development from the original in my opinion. 

There was a few notable parts to the film, and Emily Blunt does a good job. There's a lot of actresses who coulda easily over-acted and fucked up that role, making their scenes painful to watch. And of course, of course, Hopkins was in terrific form and truly well suited for the distant and eccentric role of Sir John Talbot, del Toror's father. Dripping every line from off his teeth and creating the mystery and maybe proving the only real sense of terror in his harsh facials and ominous smiling.

One wonder's what Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) would have done differently with this film.

At the end of the day, I'm glad I got to see this film. And I'm glad it was made. People like the ones responsible for this are the one's you really have appreciate, for what it is they hold in their hearts, and try to do with film. And in that respect, no matter how much they may or may not have missed, they scored big.
Munki Out.

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