Much like a good set of fangs, The Wolfman is all about peaks and valleys. Its peaks are the gory and exciting action scenes. Its valleys are just about everything else. The Blu-ray, which features an unrated directors cut running an extra 16 minutes, does improve the film slightly but not enough to meet the public’s high expectations based on the legacy of the character. On the other hand, the extras are pretty entertaining including some awesome deleted scenes, in depth featurettes and two radically different alternate endings. Read more after the jump.
When I saw The Wolfman in theaters (midnight, opening day) I walked out loving the action scenes and that was about it. Each was quickly paced, tense and very violent. Those scenes alone seemed to show the film had a lot of skilled craftsman behind it. Unfortunately, the story surrounding them lacked any emotion, motivation, or real drama. The unrated director’s cut adds in some extra mutilation as well as a few scenes early in the film that lend a wee bit more emotion and motivation to the relationships. We now have a little bit more chemistry between Gwen (Emily Blunt) and Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) and even some more tension between Laurence and his father John (Anthony Hopkins). These early scenes attempt to flesh out motivations that remain virtually non-existent in the theatrical cut. However, the disservice the new scenes do is that now Del Toro’s character doesn’t actually transform into The Wolfman until almost exactly an hour into the movie. And by that time, it almost feels like the climax of the film. Of course, you then have a whole other hour to go – a pretty cool hour, filled with gruesome violence, impressive visual effects and long drawn out scenes of walking (peaks and valleys, remember?)
Pop in the Blu-ray and the first option the view gets is “Unrated” or “Theatrical.” There’s absolutely no reason to ever click the latter, even if the word “unrated” scares off parents. Both versions feature hard R rated violence.
As I said at the top, the extras on the disc are worth watching. It starts off with two alternate endings, running about four minutes each. They’re essentially just different edits of the final moments of the film, except that in each one a main character has a different fate. (They definitely chose the right ending for the movie, though.) Then there’s a set of five deleted/extended scenes. And, unlike most DVDs, these are pretty significant. The first two are sort of blah but the last three each extend one of the big effects scenes. In particular, the fourth scene is just awesome. Doesn’t fit in the movie, but it’s a great extra. Four words: Costume party, puppet show.
Next up are four behind the scenes featurettes running between nine and 15 minutes each. “Return of the Wolfman” is essentially a look at the legacy of the character and is pretty basic. “The Beastmaker” focuses on Rick Baker, his makeup effects and is totally bad ass, as is “Transformation Secrets” which focuses on the CG effects. Then “Wolfman Unleashed” is an okay look at the stunts in the film.
I’d say that The Wolfman is a below average film but the Blu-ray is above average. So if you liked The Wolfman any more than I did, you are going to love this disc. It looks great, sounds great and provides great insight into the filmmaking process while actually improving the movie. If you like the film less than I did, this isn’t going to change your mind. But you won’t be upset you got it.