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Originally published Thursday, February 11, 2010 at 12:05 AM

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Movie review

'The Wolfman' can't escape being frightfully dull

"The Wolfman" — starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving — is a somber yet ultimately silly take on the 1941 classic "The Wolf Man."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Movie review 1.5 stars

'The Wolfman,' with Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving. Directed by Joe Johnston, from a screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self, based on a 1941 screenplay by Curt Siodmak. 103 minutes. Rated R for bloody horror violence and gore. Several theaters; see Page XX.

If werewolves are going take their place at the front of the contemporary pop-culture pack with vampires and zombies, they're going to need a better vehicle than "The Wolfman," a somber yet ultimately silly take on the 1941 classic "The Wolf Man."

Considering how trouble-plagued the making of this reportedly was — original director Mark Romanek ("One Hour Photo") replaced by Joe Johnston ("Jumanji"), numerous delays, reshoots and rescheduled release dates — "The Wolfman" isn't the disaster it might have been. But it's not particularly compelling either.

Set in the late 1800s, the story focuses on Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro), a man who left his childhood home in rural England and never looked back. However, the strange death of his brother Ben (Simon Merrells), who was found in the woods attacked in the most savage way, prompts him to return and face his father (Anthony Hopkins) and try to solve the murder.

In one of "The Wolfman's" best scenes, Lawrence is set upon by the beast while at a Gypsy camp outside town. He survives but, of course, carries the curse that makes him dread the full moon. Similarly, a scene where Lawrence shape-shifts in a room full of doctors who believe his problems are all in his head manages to be suspenseful. And Hugo Weaving (the bad guy in "The Matrix" movies) acquits himself well as a Scotland Yard detective.

Mostly, though, "The Wolfman" is more frightfully dull than frightening. Whether Lawrence is going all "Beauty and the Beast" with his brother's fiancée (Emily Blunt) or engaging in some laughable wolf-on-wolf violence that is supposed to be the big climax (though the special effects aren't particularly special), none of it adds up to much.

But werewolf fans, don't despair. There's always the third season of HBO's "True Blood" (new and improved with werewolves!) and the second season of BBC America's "Being Human" to look forward to.

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